How to Determine Who's Invited to Your Wedding
words by Eve Green
One of the most difficult wedding planning tasks is creating the guest list. Who you invite will be based on a number of factors including how large you want your wedding to be, the capacity of the venue, and your budget. In addition, both sets of parents will likely work with you to determine to whom an invitation will be extended. It’s a big task involving a lot of people. Consider our suggestions for How to Determine Who’s Invited to Your Wedding.
Create a Guest List
To simplify the process of creating a guest list, start with a strategy. We suggest creating a cut off number for the entire guest list then dividing it up into how many people you as the couple get to invite such as your friends and coworkers, if desired. Then determine how many people your parents may invite, a list that will include members of each sides of their families and in addition, their closest friends. Make sure to keep the cut off number for parents of the bride and of the groom equal to avoid resentment. Don’t feel bad if you’re allowing yourselves as a couple to invite more guests than either set of parents . . . it is your wedding. However, if your parents are helping pay or even footing the entire bill for the wedding, allow them a little flexibility in the number they invite since they are helping to pay for the guests.
Another strategy for creating a guest list - particularly if you have a big family - is to begin by creating a list of all the obvious guests such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and closest friends. Total them all up and see where that number lands. If you still have room for more guests, you can open it up to more extended family, coworkers, and so on. When it comes to family, avoid hurt feelings by keeping things equal. If you’re inviting an aunt, invite all your aunts, and on both sides. If you’re inviting a first cousin, invite all your first cousins. Same goes with second cousins and so on. If the bride or groom isn’t particularly close to extended family members while the other is, it doesn’t mean he or she is obligated to invite people, while related, that are not close, just because the partner is.
When creating your guest list you will almost definitely be faced with the question of whether to invite guests whose weddings you were invited to. If you can find room on the list, returning the favor is always the preferred choice, particularly if the individuals wedding was within the last couple years. However, it isn’t required. If numbers allow, it’s always a good idea to include anyone who asked you to be a member of their wedding party.
Communicate Who’s Really Invited to the Wedding
After you’ve gone to the hard work of creating a guest list that is fair, balanced, and pleases both you, your partner, and both sets of parents, the last thing you want to do is verbally invite people who weren’t on the official list, or have anyone volunteer an unsolicited RSVP or even just show up at your wedding.
These situations will completely throw off your seating chart, in addition to directly affecting the amount of food the caterer will have prepared, relying solely on the number you have given, based on the RSVPs you have received. To avoid this situation, be sure to communicate clearly on the invitation just exactly who is invited. For example, if you aren’t inviting children to your wedding or reception, only address the parents on both the outer and inner envelopes, if using. The key is to be specific. For more information on how to address your guests on their invitations, check out our guide for How to Address Guests on Wedding Invitations.
If you plan to invite an unmarried friend or family member and their significant other, use the date’s name on the invitation if you have it available. If they are single and are being permitted to bring a “plus one,” include “and guest” on the envelope. If you’re sticking to a strict budget, you may be considering whether or not to allow some of your invitees to bring a plus one at all. It’s always preferred to welcome each of your guests to bring a date as no one enjoys going to a wedding solo, however costs per head do have to be taken into consideration. This is a personal decision that only you and your partner can make. However a good rule of thumb to follow is if your guest is in a serious relationship or living with their significant other, include them, too.
Keep Venue Capacity and Travel In Consideration
Other factors that require your consideration when creating your guest list is how many people your venue’s capacity will allow and whether your wedding will be located at a destination location. Couples who opt for a destination wedding that requires travel often pare down their guest list to just their closest friends and family members.