Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rite Resources: Guest RSVP, Contact, and Reception Info Trackers

Picking out my wedding shoes took up a good few hours of my life.  Deciding, with my family and Andrew's, who was invited to come see them (assuming my shoes even peeked out from under my dress) took longer.  Guest-related matters make up a significant amount of wedding planning--and for good reason; in my opinion, celebrating the sacrament is an invitation to communion, in every sense of the word, for everyone present--so I want to offer you today a way to keep track of all those matters.

If 1 meant showing up on my wedding day and hoping for the best, and 10 meant apps and checklists and timelines planned down to the second, I'd rank my organization as a bride at…six.  Plus maybe a half.  I  don't consider myself too hopelessly disorganized, but complicated or overly involved systems stress me out and I like to have as few separate planning tools as possible.  I find I think more clearly when related information is mostly in one spot, rather than spread out across several.

So, when the time came for Andrew and I to get things rolling with the guest list we'd spent all that time on, I craved order and peace.  I wanted to consolidate all the addresses and phone numbers we'd written  and scattered on Post-Its from our moms' address books and, to keep track of who'd received all our wedding correspondence, and later on, to keep all of the info relevant to the reception, like who was eating what.

I'm sharing the spreadsheet I made in the hope that it'll give you some guidance as you get started communicating with your guests.  Like I said, too many planning documents tend to make me feel less organized, so I wanted to have just one sheet that could take us from the initial gathering of contacts all the way to sending out Thank You Notes.  Feel free, obviously, to take my categories and split them up across different sheets in a way that works for you.  Here's what you'll find:

Name: Obvious.  I counted families as one name, like "Calis Family," for any family members living at the same address.

Address and Phone: Also obvious?  Clearly I'm showing my expertise…

Save the Date: Along with the next column, Invitation, I just put in a check mark to indicate that these correspondences had been sent out to each guest, marking after addressing and before mailing each batch.

RSVP: I filled in Yes or No, and as the response dates crept up, my system was to highlight the rows for guests I needed to follow up with.  If a guest replies with a No, I'd recommend keeping them on your chart until after the wedding, since some guests still like to send gifts or attend showers even if they can't make it on the actual day, and that way you'll still have their info.

Numbers: How many peeps would be attending from each invitee group or row on the spreadsheet; i.e. a single friend would read as 1, while a family might read 4 or 5, depending on who planned on coming.  I broke it down into Adults and Kids.  Sounds laughably simple, yet being able to easily add up this column saved us a lot of effort when giving head counts to our priest for communion and to our reception site coordinator for seating and meals.

Reception Meals: If you're serving a buffet, ignore this (head counts alone should be sufficient), but if you're serving a choice between several plated meals, there are three columns here for you--two for the choices of adult meals and one for kids' meals; you can change the labels from "Meal 1" and "Meal 2" to chicken or pasta or whatever you're serving.  I just filled in the number of guests per party eating each one, which, again, simplified a lot of communication with the reception staff.

Notes: Anything related to gluten and high chairs.  I kid.  But really, any special needs or requests your guests might have.

Gifts and Thank You: When we got home from our honeymoon, adding a list of our wedding presents and checking off whom we'd written thank you notes to seemed like a natural extension of our pre-wedding planning.

You can download the spreadsheet here.  And please do share your feedback and tell me what organizing methods have worked best for you and for other brides you know!  I get that everyone has different tendencies and planning personalities and would love to hear your best advice for keeping your guest info clear and at your fingertips!  Thoughts?


  1. My fiancé and I have been using Evernote to get organized, and so far it's been really helpful! I love that I can share our wedding planning "notebook" with him so that we're both able to access it and edit it from our own phones/laptops. We aren't at the guest list part of our planning yet so I'm not 100% sure how it'll work out for that but I've found it to be a pretty great tool so far, so I'm hoping it'll be the only thing we need to take us through the whole planning process.

    1. I keep hearing awesome things about Evernote and have yet to try it…the shared document aspect sounds super helpful. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. This is a really great checklist! I kept a spreadsheet for addresses and RSVPs but I didn't include the gifts or TY notes there. Those were written on paper and it did become a little bit of guesswork to figure out what was done and what wasn't. This is pretty thorough, and definitely easy to manage.



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