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So you’ve probably heard us blather on about the most-important first steps of wedding planning: creating a budget, setting a date, and so on. But there’s one wedding-planning step we don’t usually talk about—and it’s actually a pretty important one, especially during COVID times: Figuring out how to collect addresses for your wedding guests. Tracking down your guests’ addresses may seem like a minor step in the grand scheme of things, but it actually can be time consuming and frustrating, particularly if you wait until the last minute.

Unless you’re super on top of things and keep all of your loved ones’ contact info in an address book or neatly organized on your phone, you probably have everyone’s addresses in several different places—on your phone, in emails and texts, on a random Google doc from six years ago, etc. Now’s the time to reach out to your crew and get their most up-to-date mailing addresses—which may be a bit more complicated as many people have left their pre-COVID locations to move back in with family or made the switch from city to suburbs. So even if you think you know everyone’s addresses, you’ll probably want to reach back out to double check.

While it may be a bit of a painstaking process, collecting your loved ones’ addresses is important not only for wedding planning, but in the long run. Once you have an organized system to store your family members’ and friends’ mailing addresses, you’ll be able to easily and efficiently send out holiday cards, birthday gifts, and more—plus you won’t have to ask for their address every time you pay a visit! Here’s how to collect those addresses for your wedding—and beyond.

Start early.

Once your guest list is finalized, it’s time to start collecting those addresses. Yes, it can be so tempting to wait until the week before your save the dates go out to start scrambling for addresses (greetings, fellow procrastinators!), but we’re here to tell you it’s not a good idea. You’ll want to give yourself as much time as possible to reach out to your guests—and for your guests to get back to you. We recommend starting the process at least a month before your save the dates go out, if not more.

Etiquette note: Be sure to wait until after your guest list is 100% finalized before requesting addressing. If you ask a friend or family member for their address, they’re going to expect a wedding save the date and invitation.

Let an online guest book tool do the heavy lifting.

Fortunately, there’s a really easy way to collect addresses for your wedding—an online guest list tool! Yes, we’re partial to WeddingWire’s Guest List Tool, particularly because it does most of the hard work for you. You’ll receive a link that you can email or text to your loved ones, and they’ll be able to input their most up-to-date contact information directly to your online guest list. WeddingWire’s online Guest List Tool not only helps with the address collection process, but also organizes RSVPs, table assignments, and meal selections, allows you to message guests directly, and more.

Don’t be afraid to delegate.

If your parents and in-laws are involved in creating the guest list, they should also take responsibility for gathering addresses for their invitees. You can even include them as collaborators on your WeddingWire Guest List Tool so they can add everyone’s contact information to your list directly.

Personalize the outreach.

Yes, it’s pretty easy to send a mass email asking dozens or hundreds of your loved ones for their addresses—and if you’re in a rush, you can totally go that route. But from an etiquette perspective, it’s best to send personalized emails to your loved ones to request their current address. It’s a nice way to catch up with friends and family members (especially those you may not have talked to in a while), and they’ll certainly appreciate the gesture. Also, by asking each guest directly, you’re much more likely to get a quick response than by sending a mass email. You can also add a note on your wedding website to remind guests to update their address, but this shouldn't be your only form of outreach. 

Etiquette note: A social media post asking everyone you’ve ever met to send your their address is not a good idea—unless you’re inviting all of your followers to your wedding.

Check in again before invitations go out.

Collecting guest addresses is a two-round process. First, you’ll want to gather your guests’ addresses for your save-the-dates, and then, you may want to follow up before your invitations go out in case anyone’s moved. If it’s been a relatively short time between the mailings of your save-the-dates and invitations you can skip this step, but if it’s been more than six months, you’ll probably want to check in for updated contact info.

Save your addresses in multiple locations.

Now that you’re about to be married, it’s time to take the very adult step of organizing you friends’ and family members’ contact information. The WeddingWire Guest List Tool allows you to download all of your collected addresses as a spreadsheet, which you can then convert into a Google Spreadsheet. If you have a Gmail account, you can add loved ones’ info to your Google address book, as well. And for the old-school among us, you can certainly keep a written address book, if you prefer. While creating a system to organize your addresses can be time-consuming, you’ll be so glad you did it—no more bugging Mom for Cousin Suzanne’s address so you can send a baby gift.