Wedding Guest List
Every bride goes through the pain of drawing up a wedding guest list and there are many pitfalls and obstacles that you will come across, but you are not alone. Another bride has always been there before you!
Your wedding guest list may be quite a simple job if you are getting married abroad or have a very small family, but most of you will have lots of guests and getting a wedding guest list that keeps all parties happy is an absolute headache. The main thing to keep in mind is not to fall out over this, this is your wedding and you should not feel obligated to please others at your expense.
Your wedding guest list should have a large majority of guests that you want to be there to share your day. There are always ways to compromise and bear in mind that different generations view wedding etiquette differently.
Problems you may experience when drawing up a wedding list:
Do you really have to invite Great Aunt Aggie, even though you don’t know her?
It really does depend on number of guests and budget, but, if neither the groom or bride have ever met these people then they shouldn’t really have to include them on the wedding guest list. It may also depend on who is paying for the reception.
Should you invite equal numbers from the bride and grooms families?
This really does depend on who is paying for the wedding and how large the families are. If the cost is being shared by both sets of parents then yes, they should have equal opportunity to invite guests. If the wedding is being paid for by the brides parents, then it may lean more towards them. If the bride and groom are paying for the wedding then their guests should take preference.
It is a good idea to split the numbers you can have on the guest list into 3 and allow the groom’s parents to invite a third, the bride’s parents to invite a third and the remainder would be for the bride and groom’s friends.
If one of the families is very small and the other is huge, you may way to adjust accordingly, you don’t want one family to have everyone invited, including the third removed second cousin, whilst the other family have had to leave out Grandma & Grandpa.
Do you invite the friend or family member that you have not spoken to for years after a row?
Now this is a bit tricky – do you use your wedding invite as an olive branch? My thoughts are that if you haven’t made up but you are toying with inviting them, then yes, add them to your wedding guest list, but why not pick up the phone and have a chat prior to sending an invite. It will be much nicer for both parties to have cleared the air beforehand and you want to avoid any potential upsets on your wedding day.
Do you have to invite the officiate to the reception?
It is good etiquette to invite the wedding officiate and partner to your reception, and you may want to invite the vicar to the wedding reception if they are a friend of the family and you have known them since you were a child but there is no obligation and if you are cutting numbers then I am sure they would not expect to come at the expense of your close friends or a member of the family.
Do I have to invite my Godparents?
There is an expectation that Godparents have been a big part of your life, but if they were present at the christening and then you have never seen them again, it is perfectly acceptable not to invite them. I guess if you are asking yourself that question, you have not spent a great deal of time with them as you grew up and you should do what you feel is right for you.
Do I have to invite my Dad’s new girlfriend?
Hmmm, a difficult one. If you don’t get on with your Dad’s new girlfriend or your parents have not long split up and your Mum is still smarting from the break up, what do you do? I would speak to your Dad, if he has only just started seeing his new partner, he should understand that it may be difficult. What you don’t want is for your Mum or Dad not to come because the girlfriend has or has not been invited. You may end up reminding them that it is your big day and they should be adult and respect your feelings on this.
If I invite single friends should I extend a plus one?
This all depends on numbers and budget. There is no reason why you should allow single guests to bring a friend, they are able to come alone and why should you have someone you don’t know at your wedding and pay for them to be there? However if numbers are not an issue and your friend is unlikely to come on their own then you may want to reconsider. You could always arrange a night before the wedding to get together with all the single people on your guest list so that they get to know each other beforehand and therefore feel more comfortable coming on their own.
If I invite my friend but I can’t stand her husband, do I have to invite him?
Yes, If your friend is married and if you want her to be there, you should invite her husband too.
Do I have to invite my friends partner to the wedding?
If your friend is in a longstanding relationship, but you have never met this partner, then you may, if numbers are tight, ask your friend how she would feel coming to the wedding alone. She has, after all, never introduced you. But if she wants her partner there, then it would be a really good time to meet!
Am I expected to invite work colleagues?
No, you should only invite work colleagues that you are also friends with and you should not feel that if you invite one person from work that you need to invite them all. Most work colleagues would only expect an invite to the evening celebrations, if at all.
Do I have to invite people who’s wedding I went to?
If you are still in contact, you should extend invites to all the people whose weddings you attended. It’s only right that if they invited you and you accepted that you return the compliment. The only situation would be if you are having a very small intimate wedding and then it might be a nice idea to send an email explaining it to them.
Do I have to invite children to the wedding?
There is no rule to say you must invite children to your wedding, but if your guests have children and you have decided not to invite them, you need to clearly state on the invitation that children are not invited. There are some good pieces of advice at Debretts on how to deal with not inviting children to your wedding. One of my friends didn’t invite children to her wedding for the meal, she organised for the children to go to a nearby MacDonalds for a meal and then had a small party then they came to the evening reception. Other people hire a wedding creche. Another option is to hire a magician or some other children’s entertainer to take the children off of your hands during the wedding breakfast and speeches.
Next steps and tips on drawing up your wedding guest list:
After all these difficult decisions, you have whittled down the numbers and your guest list has been decided. But you will still need to manage your guest list and I have a few tips that will help you on your way;
- Start drafting your wedding guest list at least 9 months before the wedding
- Get all parties ( bride, groom and both sets of parents) to draft a “wish guest list” and make sure they know that’s exactly what it is and they may not be able to invite all the people they would like to. Ask them to prioritise by using 1, 2 or 3 against the names. (1 being the priority). Merge all the lists together to come to a first draft. Once you have the first draft you can work out by using costs per head, venue restrictions etc. to whittle the list down to a viable number.
- Once you have your final guest list, use a Wedding Guest List Spreadsheet to get numbers for wedding invites and keep track of who has been sent what and when. See below for our free wedding guest list checklist.
- If you have any guests you cannot fit on the final list, keep a reserve list and if you get any declines you can send them an invitation. Bearing this in mind keep a few spare invitations an give yourself plenty of time between the RSVP date and needing to confirm wedding table plans etc.
If you would like some help with your wedding guest list you may find my wedding guest list organiser useful, it is in an easy to use excel spreadsheet.
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