How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding?
Deciding on your wedding guest lists can be rather stressful, especially if you’re trying to be politically correct but you’re on a tight budget — the practice that seems to apply to most people. However, remember that it’s your big day and that compromises you feel uncomfortable with shouldn’t be considered whatsoever.
Even when you manage to include all important people, chances are, you’ll need to narrow it down. Guests cost money, and weddings are not a cheap affair. There are so many costs that even a single additional invitee may make a lot of difference. So, what’s the best solution?
Let’s consider a number of useful tips that will help you draft a perfect guest list while staying on budget.
Groups of People to Consider Inviting to Your Wedding
When narrowing down your list, think first about groups of people you want to invite. No matter the size of your wedding, the usual groups of people that are considered include immediate family members and childhood friends. For some couples, extended family and family friends are also acceptable choices.
How Many People to Invite to a Wedding?
The simplest answer to this question would be — enough to make you happy. Even if it’s ambiguous, this definition is usually the simplest guideline when brainstorming a wedding guest list. Some couples plan small weddings and wouldn’t have it any other way, meaning that they want an intimate atmosphere with only the closest people in attendance. Other couples want glamorous weddings with as many attendees as the budget allows, which means they have to brainstorm a number of issues before deciding on the final version on the wedding guest list.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Drafting a Wedding Guest List
If you’re planning a wedding ceremony that includes any additional invitees to immediate family and best friends, you’ll need to think deeply about not forgetting/offending anyone. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself when deciding on the extras:
- Am I comfortable around this person?
- Have I met this person (doesn’t apply to business partners of your immediate family and similar categories)?
- Will extended family be invited?
- When was the last time I saw this relative?
- Did I attend this person's wedding?
- How close am I to these coworkers?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then the decision is obvious. There are certainly many more questions people ask themselves, but these are the most general ones.
Wedding Guest List Etiquette
First things first. Weddings are a two-side affair, meaning that you should plan every step of the process jointly with your partner.
Discuss the Preliminary List With Your Partner
Many people make the mistake of including their immediate family in the wedding planning process, guest list included. This is a huge no go — if you’re incapable of deciding even the simplest of things just with your partner, things are not off to a great start.
Think that way from day one — weddings are a huge step and a drastic change, and you should learn to rely on your partner more.
For the majority of couples, a wedding guest list starts with adding immediate family members and closest friends, and then expands from there. The additional people to add depend on how you’re planning your wedding and also on the budget.
Basically, much depends on who is financing the wedding. If both immediate families are involved, then you should consider an even split. If one immediate family is financing the bill, you may consider an uneven split.
However, this practice also falls under the compromises mentioned above. If the families get to invite whoever they want, the wedding may be more to their taste than to yours.
As always, open communication is the way to solve this potentially stressful issue. Discuss your plans with your partner first so that you can present a united front when the families get their say.
Limit Family Invitations
The next step is — limiting family invitations. Remember not to change your mind afterwards (which happens more often than most people think), no matter what the families may say.
Still, this issue can be tricky if you’re planning a large wedding, as it basically means that you cannot (or at least shouldn’t) invite one aunt but bypass another, so it’s either all aunts or no aunts. The same applies for cousins and those family members you haven’t seen for a good while or are not close to, so think carefully about the type of the wedding atmosphere you’re aiming to create.
The Most Painful Part: Extra Guests
Regardless, families on both sides will want to invite some extras. Make sure to limit the number of invitees and to split it evenly between the two families. This may be an unavoidable step for many people no matter how happy they are about the whole affair, as there will always be some random business partners and best friends that are better invited than not.
This is another tricky part, as some couples want no children invited. The choice should depend on the budget and the type of wedding. If it’s an adult affair, obviously you shouldn’t invite children. However, make sure to not make any exceptions — not even for your best friend that may be offended by the choice. Your wedding, your rules.
This step is similar to extras. Sometimes, large weddings simply cannot overlook courtesy invitees. If someone invited you to their wedding recently, most likely they expect to be invited to yours. This doesn’t apply to weddings you attended five years ago, but consider a one-year limit at least.
What About Couples?
You may want to consider whether to allow a plus-one policy. Again, this can be tricky, as if you allow one extra, you shouldn’t limit others. To avoid misunderstandings of any sort, consider allowing couples — even if you are only friends — with one party only.
Designing Your Dream Wedding Guest List
As you can see, there are numerous factors to consider when designing a wedding guest list, unless you’re set on a small wedding.
The best approach to designing a perfect list early on is to write down the names of the people you can’t imagine not attending your wedding ceremony. Sometimes this goes beyond best friends and close family, so think thoroughly about this part. Have your partner do the same.
Only when you have done that, then bring the budget into the equation. If the budget doesn’t allow for all the people to be invited, don’t even consider inviting any additional guests. Go through the list again and decide on the people that absolutely must attend your wedding (based on your own criteria, not the guests’).
To avoid unnecessary stress, be realistic. Make estimates about the guest count well in advance and stick to it. Sticking to a fixed number of people may just be the most difficult part, as there will almost always be some additional person you cannot imagine not attending your wedding.
Another thing — there’s the venue capacity to consider. Never ever under any circumstances choose a number that’s greater than the capacity — that will only give you a headache and won’t really boost the brainstorming process.
Dealing With People Who Aren’t Invited
Once you have a fairly good idea who to invite, there’s the most unpleasant part to consider: dealing with people who aren’t invited.
Some people simply expect to be invited for one reason or another, so you should define a strategy on how to deal with them in a positive manner if they don’t end up being invited.
In most cases, there will be two categories to consider:
- Immediate family members’ best friends
- Colleagues who keep asking about your wedding plans
Sorry moms, but if you’re not planning an extended wedding, you should make it clear to your parents that no extras are welcome. It has nothing to do with your likes and dislikes, but with your wedding ceremony plans.
The same applies to persistent co-workers ever looking forward to the next drinking affair. If you’re going for a cozy atmosphere, extras simply have no place there.
Lastly, there is the especially problematic point: when your parents want you to invite people you’ve never met before. Oh joy, how do you go about that?
This can be especially tricky if the parents are paying for the wedding. They will expect some compromises in return (in most cases), so you should think about your policy of extras. No matter what you decide, make certain to stick to the designated number of extras. Make it clear to the parents that you won’t change your opinion—no matter what.
Designing a wedding guest list is one of the most troublesome parts of planning your big day. With so many factors to consider, the whole affair usually takes far longer than anyone likes and additional adjustments often take place.
However, if you stick to two simple rules, you’ll reduce the stress levels dramatically. These are:
- Invite only people you feel comfortable around
- Invite only people your partner feels comfortable around
After all, no matter who is paying the bill, your wedding is ultimately your big day and by no means should you feel stressed out or uncomfortable in any way.
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