For the bride who doesn’t already know how to create a spreadsheet, it is worth an afternoon lesson with a friend to learn how data can be organized and sorted on this handy document. A spreadsheet allows the user to fill columns with facts from personal contact information, bride or groom affiliation, gifts received, to response card replies. Columns can be added as the bride reaches new phases in her wedding planning. Hand this list to the calligrapher who’ll be writing out the addresses of guests.
Create a Basic Spreadsheet
When the bride and groom first start considering who will attend their wedding, start popping the information into a spreadsheet. Add personal contact information on guests. Start the spreadsheet with the following information
- Titles (Dr./Mr./Ms/Mr. and Mrs., etc.)
- Names, first and last – triple check spelling. Unless the wedding is ultra casual, skip the nicknames. With so many family members sharing last names, have one column for last names and a second column for first names.
- Addresses – this is the time to start doing zip code look-ups
- Phone numbers – handy to have compiled in one place, particularly when someone doesn’t send back their reply card
- Email addresses – useful for ‘e-vites’ to bridal showers or other parties held the week of the wedding
Create a column next to the name columns as a ‘and guest/partner’ column to track which friend and family members are invited to bring a guest. When a couple is living together, both names can appear on the invitation; otherwise, write ‘Ms Jane Smith and Guest.’
Add a column after the addresses to record the names of spouses. This is useful for the bridesmaids who’ll be throwing the bridal shower. This can also help both the bride and groom keep track of who’s who (particularly when looking at the formality of a list with ‘Mr. and Mrs. William Smith’ it’s helpful to see a column listing ‘Liz’ to jog the memory).
If there will be numerous parties or get-togethers that some people will be invited to, track this information in separate columns, one for the rehearsal dinner, one for the next day’s brunch, etc.
Tracking Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts
Yes, someone will take notes at the shower, but the bride, or a friend, can then enter information onto the spreadsheet in a bridal shower column. This allows the couple to track gifts received. Highlight this column in a bright color and then eliminate the highlighting block-by-block when thank you cards are mailed.
Keeping all guest-related information in one place can help make life easier for the bride. She can sort the spreadsheet to see how many gift cards she received so she doesn’t lose track of them in the shuffle of wedding-related paperwork and objects. (The bride could even track what she buys with gift cards so when she bumps into the gift giver she has a point of conversation.)
Creating Wedding Reception Seating Plans
Add a column at the beginning of the document. In this column, add a note, such as, ‘groom’s friend’ or ‘bride’s work mate’ to track how different people are connected to the bride and groom. Keep the wording similar (so don’t be too specific – ‘groom’s friend’ versus ‘groom’s college friend,’ unless these are distinctive, don’t-mix-them groups).
When creating seating plans, sort the spreadsheet by this column for a quick overview of potential table arrangements. When it comes to family members, this could require a little more work – cousins here, aunts and uncles over there – but this can technique can summarize who’s who.
Create yet another column after this descriptive column to note how many guests have replied that they will attend – bringing 1 or two. This will help with the seating arrangements as well as giving the couple a count to turn over to the caterer.
As with all important documents on the computer, be certain to back up this one on a portable drive or an online file storage site. When significant changes are made, print out a copy for easy reference. The spreadsheet can become large, so have some legal size paper on hand for printing. Stay organized all the way from save-the-date notifications to thank you cards with a handy spreadsheet.
Photo by Susan Caplan McCarthy