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How to Create a Jewish Event Guest List

how to create a Jewish event guest list

How to Create a Jewish Event

Guest List

I hate to start off writing on a negative note but here’s the honest truth.  Creating a guest list for any Jewish Event won’t be an enjoyable task.  It makes no difference if your planning a Jewish Wedding or your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  This is the most stressful job for any party planner but it needs to be done. You must know how to create a Jewish event guest list.

We make it a little easier.

Let’s dive in, starting with some basics.

Guests List Facts

Every guest will cost you money.  You have food, alcohol, rentals, centerpieces based on the number of guests who attend.

Now take into account the venue you booked (or thinking about).   Every venue only holds a certain number of people. They will let you know their room capacity but always ask if that number is calculated for standing guests or sit down dinner around tables.  The numbers change dramatically.

Now add family/friends into the equation.  Who is more important, your mom’s mahjong friends or some coworkers you enjoy going to coffee once a month.  This is where creating a Jewish event guest list is a little trickier.

These decisions may turn into a family disagreement faster than you have time to pour a glass of wine. Its a must. You have to know how to create a jewish event guest list. Read how an event planner helps you through this 4 step process to writing a successful guest list.

  1. Guest Count Forecast Formula


Do this first.  Figure out how many guests you can afford to feed before you write your first guest list draft.  That is where you have to start, especially if you are on a budget.

I’m giving you the formula I used for years to make me look so smart as an event planner.  Honestly, it’s super easy to calculate how many guests you can afford to feed? Promise!  It can be in your inbox in 5 minutes. Don’t make the mistake of not knowing how many guests you can afford to attend unless you have a money tree in the backyard.  Every smart planner should know this number.

Grab your Free Guest Count Forecast Formula so you can move on.



  1. Writing Guest List


Now we have established that its important to know how to create a jewish event guest list. So, let's say you know the magic number of people you can afford to feed; now comes the fun part.  Writing the guest list.  Your guest list will be larger than who actually will show up but we will address invite vs attend in #3 so don’t panic.

Here is the method I have used with clients for years. It typically takes family fighting and arguments down to a minimum and gives you a clear picture of who you are inviting (and if they will come).

  • Establish your baseline for possible total guest count. (That’s your Guest List Forecast Formula number). This information should be communicated to each family/friend member who is financially contributing or immediate family. What’s a family/friend member?

**Definition of family/friend member: mom, dad, mitzvah honoree, bride, groom, groom’s family, grandparents (if they are contributing financially) or anyone who is contributing.

Homework in knowing how to create a jewish event guest list- Figure out how many guests can each family/friend invite?  Give each family member an attendance guest number (not invitation number).

Typical Breakdown Percentages

 For weddings:  We typically recommend the following guest breakdown percentage: couple 40%, brides family 32%, grooms family 28%.  Depending on who is paying, percentages may vary.  More: Refer to last bullet

For mitzvahs:  Since it is typically the family giving the event, there is no need to create a percentage.  Grandparents and kids guest count vary with families but easier to manage.

More decisions to make now......

  • Decide now if you want to include children among guests. If they breathe and have a toushie, they have to be counted. (infants don’t count)
  • Decide now if you wish to have single guests bring a guest. Again, if they breathe, you have to count them.
  • Addresses are not needed at this point. Only the names are needed.   (Addresses come later)
  • Last word for Weddings: Traditionally, the bride's parents pay for the wedding, giving them the upper hand in extending invitations. Today, though some couples may pay for their own weddings or grooms side splits the cost. No matter who pays; keep in mind parents get input on who gets invited. Be respectful of your parents and future in-laws and realize they're as excited about the wedding as you are and want their friends to be witness to their joy and family milestone.  In other words….it’s just not about you. They want to share their happiness with good friends, so try and honor their wishes—or at least some of their wishes.

It's Time for Writing Guest List

How to create a Jewish event guest list


Writing your Guest List:  Each person should make their own separate lists.  At this point, it’s okay to have duplicates.  What’s important is everyone makes their own decision who they think is important and wish to invite.

Now put it to paper creating 3 separate lists defined as:  Guest List Categories A-B-C

A LIST) Those who must be invited  

What this means: If they don’t come, either am I.  These are the most important people in my life.  No one should be able to dictate any people on this list. (unless they didn’t listen to your percentage amounts)

B LIST) Those who should be invited

What this means: These people have meant a great deal to me and would really like him/her/them to be there.

C LIST) Those that would be nice to invite

What this means in knowing how to create a jewish event guest list: If we can swing these people being there, it would be nice but I can accept if they aren’t invited.


  1. How to create a Jewish Event Guest ListInvite vs Will they Come?


You already know that just because you invite them or have to because (you fill in the blank), they most likely will not come.   But how do you really know? This is the tricky part in knowing how to create a jewish event guest list.

This is not an exact science but doing this for many years…..I call these educated guestimates..and typically~ I’m usually right.


guests count forecast formula

This chart is pretty accurate.  If you don’t want to go through each guest, here is an average breakdown: 85 percent of local guests, 55 percent of out-of-town guests, and 25 percent of destination guests will show up.

But here is when it gets muddled.  Intimate (smaller) weddings get near-perfect attendance but bigger ones get less.  That is why I always recommend going by this chart and sending save-the-dates for parties of guest estimations of 150+ guests.  You will always get a more accurate guest attendance number.  Just note, if they get a save-the date, they get a formal invitation.

If you don’t send save-the dates, I suggest using a higher guest count of 75% for budgeting.  If more resvp "yes", enjoy the fact people want to honor you with their time and presence.

Final Guest Count Homework

  • Each family member goes back and identifies by guest who they think will actually attend. Each family member should be within 25% of the typical breakdown percentage number you assigned in the beginning.


  1. Making the Cut


Combining names from category A; removing duplicates.  If their name appears on one or more family lists, note this.  That is why I love to have each member write their own.  You would be surprised what people write when they have a voice.

If you haven’t hit your guest count, continue adding names from Category “B”.  If you are lucky, continue on adding names from Category “C”.

Congratulations!  You have a draft guest list. You've known how to create a jewish event guest list

But wait……you've followed my instructions—and you still have 200 names for Category “A” and your location holds 175. While you might feel bad about taking names off the list, you will have to make some diplomatic decisions.  This is where it gets mucky.   Each family member will need to reflect on who is important.  If you invite 1 cousin, do you have to invite every cousin?  What about co-workers? Honestly, the odds you will be friends with a co-worker five years from now are slim.  Just be careful to avoid constantly talking about plans if you are very selective.

Focus on people who are relevant to your life now, and who'll be relevant five years from now.

See how easy this is.  Now go get a glass of wine.


If you  have a sticky situation, send me an email [email protected] and I will help you

I have a passion for helping BarBat Mitzvah Parents or Wedding Couples plan their simcha (celebration).  I enjoy sharing my 20+ years of planning Jewish event.

I teach actionable, simple steps that helps anyone create a fun, meaningful, unique simcha instead of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Planning the perfect celebration takes Passion, Patience, and a few skills  We give you the skills.

Looking for more party planning guidance?  Head to and check out Simcha University or see what course we’re offering to DIY Party Planners.

It may be exactly what you need to easily plan the perfect simcha like a pro.

Happy Planning,

Cyndi Silver

How to Plan a Jewish event