One of the hardest (but most important) parts of planning your wedding is creating the guest list. It’s a little more complicated though, than simply making a list of everyone you’d like to celebrate with. There are people you’ll have to invite, others you really want to skip, and those who may or may not make the cut, depending on your venue’s capacity. So how do you decide who does—and doesn’t—get an invite to your wedding? Here are some guidelines to help you figure it out.
Before you involve your families, sit down with your partner to start the guest list. Begin with your immediate families, then add those close family members you really want to have there. Next, move on to your closest friends—the ones you simply can’t imagine getting married without. This probably won’t be your entire guest list, but it’s a good place to start, and should cover those must-haves you and your partner will be looking for. Don’t involve your families just yet—you’ll want to get this starting point ironed out first so you can make sure everyone is equally represented down the line.
Extended family invitations are tricky. Who really knows the difference between second cousins and first cousins, once removed anyway? The general rule of thumb is, if one uncle gets an invitation, all of your aunts and uncles need to get an invitation.The same goes for cousins or second cousins too. This isn’t much of an issue for small families, but with a large extended family, it can take up the bulk of your guest list. If you haven’t spoken to some of your relatives in years, don’t feel obligated to invite them to your wedding.
Remember, your wedding is a celebration for you and the person you’re marrying and your immediate family; it’s not a family reunion. You don’t have to extend an invite to everyone in your family tree. Start with your closest relatives first, then work your way out until you reach a number you’re comfortable with, one that leaves room for your friends too!
After your families have been invited, determine how many extra spots you have left and divide it evenly between both of your families. Let your parents use these seats however they’d like—and make it clear that there are no more seats available. This way your mom can invite her best friend, while your father-in-law can include his business partner (you know, the same one who invited him to their son’s wedding last year).
This one’s tricky. If a friend invited you to her wedding five years ago, but you’re not close and don’t have much contact anymore, you don’t have to invite her to yours (even if you were a bridesmaid). In saying that, if you attended a wedding in the past 18 months (and especially if you or your partner were in the wedding party), that couple should be on your guest list as well.
You don’t have to give any of your guests who aren’t in a relationship a plus-one. If they are and you’ve never met the person —you are not obligated. However it is polite to discuss this with your guest before-hand, even more so if it’s a longstanding or serious relationship. It’s no fun to dance alone. A good example would be if it’s your BFF’s boyfriend or favorite cousin’s partner who lives across the country, and logistics are the only reason for the lack of meeting them.
Just because you share an office with someone at work or have lunch with them on occasion, doesn’t mean they have to make your guest list.Nevertheless some colleagues do feel like family after a while and you might want to include them.If that’s the case, and you have space on your guest list, invite them! If you don’t and you want to keep your wedding small, plan a work happy hour or outing to celebrate with them instead.
Inviting children to a wedding can be wonderful. For some couples, they add something indescribably sweet to the proceedings, as well as priceless moments that rehearsed entertainment can’t offer. For others, children equal crying, tantrums and screaming – and can completely cramp your day’s style.
If you are including children:
If you are not including children:
This little flow chart might help you think through that decision:
Have a look at our Wedding Planning Checklist and download your own planning checklist free.