How to Narrow Down your Guest List for your Wedding!

Making a wedding list can be the most daunting task of wedding planning. Time and time again, when I ask my couples “what is your biggest pain point of wedding planning?”, they say “figuring out who I want as a guest at my wedding”.

I wanted to help these couples make these difficult decisions. BUT I myself have not had a wedding. I took to the internet to ask past brides and grooms how they went about it!

Here are some pieces of advice I received:

• “I wish someone had told us it was okay to not invite people we didn’t like and to not feel obligated to invite family we hadn’t seen in years. When it comes to objections I’ve told other people that they should just tell whoever is objecting that they can pay for all the associated charges for whoever they want to be there. We probably wouldn’t have gone to the courthouse if we had people on our side when it came to the guest list.”

• “If they wouldn’t invite you to their wedding then you don’t have to invite them to yours. Also, if your parents want certain friends invited then your parents should pay for them.”

• “For my own wedding, I decided…If we’re not close enough to call each other on our birthdays, they’re not invited. Even family.”

• “Key people in the wedding get 10 absolutes (outside of the givens like parents). So groom gets 10, bride gets 10, then parents (each side) gets 10. And it’s 10 individual people not 10 plus their SOs/family. If any overlap on lists then you take them off one. If there’s anyone who doesn’t make it on the list that you feel HAS to be there, open it to discussion. But if you give the parents a bit and you hold them to it it can help prevent your dad’s second cousin once removed and her five kids from being invited just because they showed up to your baptism 30 years ago.”

• “You don’t have to invite family just because they’re family. You don’t have to invite your parents friends. I also narrowed it down (on my side at least) to people that actually knew both of us as a couple.”

• “We had a “last name rule”: If BOTH of us don’t know the persons last name, it’s a hard ‘no’.”

• “Maybe “have I had a conversation with this person since quarantine started”…if the answer is no it’s probably okay if you don’t invite them”

• “If I won’t be genuinely excited to see someone on my wedding day, and they won’t be 100% authentically there to support me and my fiancé, then they aren’t invited!”

• “At 150 people it wasn’t too hard for us. That included most of the people we would want at a wedding. For people who live locally – we only invited friends that we see at least 3 or 4 times a year, even if we knew a couple of people might have their feelings hurt. When we had to cut down to just 25-30 people, it was immediate family/bridal parties/partners of our bridal parties/people who lived locally that were good enough friends we’ve been on a trip with.”

• “Narrowing it down is hard, especially dealing with Covid. At the end of the day immediate/or close family and close friends that you actually hang out with are what will matter. As far as dealing with objections that is going to happen no matter what the circumstances so you just have to come to terms with the fact that this is YOUR day and no one gets to make you feel bad for your decisions.”

• “You are not obligated to invite anyone to your wedding. It’s your special day. You are paying tons of money to have exactly what you want. If you haven’t seen someone in years and don’t feel excited to invite them, don’t. If you think someone isn’t going to add to the happiness of your day, don’t invite them. It’s supposed to be everything that you want!”

• “I always stick to immediate close family. Family you see often. No extra cousins. Cousins you’re close with. Aunts and uncles who are immediate siblings to your parents.And for friends, I went by people I had been regularly close with for at least 3-5 years. And No new friendships (like less than a year and don’t talk often or much). It’s hard cuz you’ll want everyone you have ever hung o it with to be there and have fun. Avoid parents asking if this person and that person too cuz they’ll do that. Choose up to 10 people from work if you want to include some work peeps you’re close with. That’s what I did when I was married.”

• ” My fiancé and I decided that if the person hasn’t talked to us in a year, then they shouldn’t be there on our wedding day. We are only inviting the people who are present in our lives”

• “Best advice I got, Treat it like you’re going to dinner. If you’re willing to pay for the whole meal for those people that’s how you should approach it.”

• “We made a decision on the number of guests Decision was based off of capacity of venue / cost per person. Then I subtracted 3 from our number…. to account for the “last minute guests”. From there go down the hierarchy of family and friends; parents, immediate family, wedding party, extended family, very good friends / like family and tallied them up. From there we created “the bubble list” this was actually kinda fun but kinda stressful; everyone you could /“should” invite that didn’t make the initial list goes on the bubble list. From there we debated the order of the list; as the RSVPs came in with reply’s of “regret we cannot make it”, someone from the bubble list gets upgraded. The most important thing about putting together your guest list is making sure you invite the people YOU (the guests of honor) want there!!!! We were pressured and made to feel guilty person X was or was not invited, it was really shitty, but in hindsight, it is you and you’re partner’s day so fuck the haters and do whatever you want to make it the best day of your lives!”

• “Keep it simple. Pick who you WANT there, pick who you NEED there. Who would you regret not inviting afterwards? And no kids! You can tactfully make that known by saying on the RSVP, “_ of 2 will be attending” showing them how many seats you reserved for them, aka find a babysitter. the bride/groom gets to save the extra seats; kids don’t care about weddings and won’t remember it anyways!”

See my other crowd sourced blog post, “What I Wish I Knew Before My Wedding Day”!



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