Who To Invite To Your Wedding

Who To Invite To Your Wedding

Who To Invite To Your Wedding

Wedding guests watch as the bride and groom stand at the alter during the ceremony.

Navigating the world of modern wedding etiquette can be challenging—especially when deciding who to invite for your big day. Whether you’re planning an intimate ceremony with a select few or a swanky bash with an expansive guest list, every couple has a different perspective on who should receive a wedding invitation. If you haven’t started wedding planning yet, nailing down who to invite is a great first step. We’ve broken down the best way to create your wedding guest list, from how to invite your close friends and family to tackling the (sometimes awkward!) decisions about co-workers, plus-ones, and more.

Set Rules for Your List

How Many People?
Your venue and budget ultimately determine the number of guests; plan for a guest list that won’t overstuff your ceremony and reception spaces or result in ballooning costs. Keep in mind that food and drink is generally a per-guest charge on top of any other venue fees; just because guests can fit into your venue space doesn’t automatically mean they’ll fit into your budget.

Who Gets a Say?
This can get tricky, especially if your families are contributing financially. Traditionally, both sets of future in-laws help determine headcount before the couple decides on their invitees. Keep an open discussion on how many guests you can afford and want to be there while setting boundaries if it gets to be too much. (i.e. “We’d love to invite everyone, but we want it to be special for both of us.”)

  • Traditional split = bride’s parents 1/3, groom’s parents 1/3, couple 1/3
  • Compromise split = parents’ list 1/2, couple’s list 1/2
  • Modern split = 100% the couple’s choice!

Who Should I Invite?
Start big with a list of EVERYONE you know, then begin to cut it down. Here’s a handy cheat sheet to help you decide who to keep or cut:

  • KEEP if: they are close friends or acquaintances
  • CUT if: you’re only inviting them because you went to their wedding
  • KEEP if: they currently play an important part in your life
  • CUT if: they’re friends of your parents/in-laws that you’ve never met
  • KEEP if: you’ve known them more than 5 years
  • CUT if: you’ve grown apart in recent years (your wedding is not the time to mend any decaying friendships!)

More Guests to Consider

Co-workers & Bosses
If you’re not friends outside of work, you’re under no obligation to invite your co-workers. If you’re only inviting a few people from the office, make sure they know that not everyone is invited and to not bring it up at work. Alternatively, you can plan a post-work happy hour to celebrate the occasion while keeping your wedding day headcount low!

The most-often asked question: whose significant others get an invite? Plus-ones can be tricky if the person you’re inviting is not in a serious relationship. This is what we recommend:

  • DEFINITELY: if they are married or engaged
  • RECOMMENDED: if they live together, you know them both, or they’ve been dating for over a year
  • UP TO YOU: if they will not know anyone else or if their friends will have dates (Tip: Write “and guest” on the invitation so it’s clear they can put down a person of their choosing!)

• This is up to your discretion; if you choose to invite children, you’ll have to constitute an “all or none” rule so as not to offend. • Any guest that is 18 and over should receive their own invitation; if below 18, they should be included as a member of “The Jones Family” to clarify they are welcome. • If children are not included, only write the parents’ names on the invite to make it clear
(i.e. “Mr. & Mrs. Jones,” not “The Jones Family”).

Extended Family
• Everyone’s family is unique, so there’s no universal rule to follow here. Are you close to all your family members? Invite them all! Do you have a special bond with one side of the family, but not the other? You’re fine to go ahead and invite the side you are closest to. • If you are inviting from one side of the family, the traditional rule is “invite one, invite them all.” (So if you invite one of your dad’s sisters, be prepared to invite all of them out of courtesy!)

The “B-List”
• Some couples create a list of backup guests, in the event they receive more “no” RSVP's than anticipated. • This can be a difficult social situation to navigate, as no one wants to know they were a second choice. • It’s best to use this for people you cut from your original list in case less people are able to attend than you thought. Co-workers, old friends, acquaintances, parents of the wedding party, and any of your parents’ friends that were not invited in the first round could be considered B-list guests.

How to Create a Guest List

The easiest way to keep track of everyone you’re inviting is a wedding guest list document (we love a well-organized spreadsheet!) that you can share with those involved in the planning process. This keeps everything in one place; you can even note which events each person will be invited to beyond the wedding itself. A guest list spreadsheet also makes it easy to include gift notes so sending thank-yous will be a breeze post-wedding. This is what you should include:

Name of Primary Guest
Name of spouse/plus-one
Any children The official wording for the invitation
Phone number
Invites + responses to (where applicable):
the ceremony
the reception
the rehearsal dinner
the bridal shower Gift notes

Remember: at the end of the day, it’s your wedding. No matter who’s on the list, the day is about you and your partner celebrating your love and future together!