There are a lot of hard things about wedding planning: the budget, finding the dress, choosing the venue, etc. One of the hardest parts for me was choosing who to invite to the wedding. I alternated between wanting to keep it small + wanting to invite everyone I knew. Wedding guest list etiquette is hard, especially with a lot of competing opinions. Now that my invites are out, I’ve got some tips to help you decide who to invite to your wedding!
As you begin to make your list, there are several factors you are going to want to take into consideration. Sit down with your fiancé + answer these simple questions.
- What is your budget?
- How many people do you want there?
- How many people can your venue hold?
- How large are your families?
Budget is the most important factor when wedding planning. Each additional person adds cost to your wedding + that is something you want to consider. The next thing to discuss is how you envision your wedding. Have you dreamed of a lavish affair or are you both more comfortable in an intimate setting? If you have a venue in mind, how many people it can hold is going to play a part in this decision. Lastly, if one or both of you have a large family, that is something that will affect your guest count.
Determine Who to Invite to Your Wedding
Once you’ve answered the questions above, you + your fiancé need to sit down + make your list. These are the steps I used to help us make our guest list.
- Write down everyone who is a must-have at your wedding. This includes immediate family, bridal party, close friends, and any other important people in your life.
- Create a dream list. Separately, write down every person you would enjoy having at your wedding. There are no wrong answers.
- Combine your list + group people together in ways that feel appropriate. This will help in the “we can’t invite X and not Y phase.”
- Ask both sets of parents for a list of who they want to attend in order of preference. Also, ask them if there are any who must be invited as a group.
- Assemble your list. Sort it in order of importance of attendance + if you want to be fancy, color code from whom side the person resides. I found this easiest to do in excel or Zola as it let me choose the relationship.
- Once you have your total list, start cutting until you reach your dream number. Roughly 15% decline, so you want to factor that it. BUT do not invite more than you can reasonably accommodate just to be on the safe side.
- Create a backup list. From your cut list, create a B-list of guests in the event you have more cancelations than anticipated. That is likely to happen right now with the pandemic. You are much more likely to get “no’s” from out-of-town guests.
- Run the final list by all relevant parties to make sure no one was missed!
When it comes to making your guest list, there are some ground rules you need to set + stick to the fairest + equitable list possible. There is not magic wedding guest list etiquette, but the tips below can help.
- Make a firm family line cut off.
- Determine if you want an equal number of guests per side or to keep it at an equal level of importance.
- Decide whether to include children.
- Create a plus-one protocol (i.e., must be married or in a serious relationship/the more the merrier).
- Did you attend this person’s wedding smaller or same size wedding/would you like to? If yes, they’re in.
- Determine a specific length of time to have seen or spoken to an invitee.
- Don’t invite people who make you feel bad or uncomfortable.
Choosing who to invite to your wedding is hard + often no fun. No one wants to hurt someone’s feelings, but at the end of the day, hard choices can be made. Hopefully, these wedding guest list etiquette tips + infographic can help you make this process easier!