Deciding who to invite to your wedding can be a tricky (and, sometimes, political) task. Remember: it is your special day. Sharing it with those closest to you makes the experience all the more unforgettable.
Before you put together your guest list, the first step is to figure out how many guests you can invite. The main factors to consider here are your budget and your venue size. It’s no good having a list of 300 potential guests if your venue can only fit 30! Once you have an estimate of how many guests you can invite, it’s time to sit down with your fiancé and put together a list of names. Start with everyone you might want to invite, including family, friends and optional guests (which might include distant relatives, work colleagues, old friends, children or plus ones).
Here are our top tips for deciding who to invite to your wedding.
An easy starting point is your immediate family, including your parents, grandparents, siblings, their partners and their children. Next list your aunts, uncles and cousins that you see regularly. Relatives that you rarely see, or who live abroad and don’t keep in touch, or whom you simply don’t get along with, can be cut from the list guilt-free (whilst also taking into consideration the wishes of your close family members, as mentioned below).
Next, list your friends. Start with your closest friends, your joint friends, their partners and so on. You might want to invite friends who you were once very close to or grew up with but haven’t spoken to in a while. On the other hand, the friends who you had a great time with at university but haven’t spoken to in a couple of years can be cut from your list if you are no longer close.
Your parents’ friends
Your parents may want a say in your guest list, especially if they are contributing to the cost of your big day. They could want you to invite their friends and possibly distant family members or people you’ve not previously met. It can be a delicate balancing act, particularly if you’re restricted in terms of the number of people you can invite overall, and you’ll want to try to avoid causing any offence. It might be a good idea to set boundaries by allocating a set number of guests for each of your parents. You may also want to divide the guest list count equally into thirds between your parents, your fiancé’s parents and you/your fiancé. Every family is different, of course, with cultural and generational sensitivities to consider. The most important thing to revert back to is it’s your day and you should be comfortable with the decisions reached about which guests are attending.
One way to keep your numbers down is to only invite adults to your wedding. Alternatively, you might wish to restrict the number of children at your wedding by drawing the line at your immediate family only. If you’re not inviting children to your wedding, make sure you include some wording around this on your wedding invitation and, of course, only address the invitation to the adults. Click here to read our invitation wording suggestions.
If you aren’t particularly close to them, it’s acceptable not to invite your work colleagues or boss to your wedding. But many of us are friends with some of our work colleagues and we may want to invite them to our wedding. If you choose to invite some of your colleagues, don’t feel obliged to invite your whole team for fear of being selective and offending those not invited. Most people understand the budget constraints of a wedding and won’t expect to be invited unless you are genuinely friends with them. If you do invite some of your colleagues, you might also want to consider inviting your boss and assistant/secretary as a courtesy.
Of course, friends who are married or engaged should receive invitations with their partners, even if you don’t know their partners well (or at all). Friends who have long-term boyfriends or girlfriends should also receive a plus-one invitation for their partner. For friends with relatively new partners, there is no obligation to invite their partners (although it is nice to do so if you can). It is perfectly fine to apologise to those friends if you can’t accommodate their partners.
Keep in mind that not all of your invited guests will be able to attend your wedding. This allows for a second round of invitations to be sent when you start receiving RSVPs of regret. Plan ahead by creating a list of second-round guests who you would like to invite if others can’t make it. Be sure not to send out second round invitations too close to your wedding date, as this will make it blatant to those guests that they were on your B-List. Also ensure that your second round RSVP cards has an updated reply date.