Ask any married couple, and you’ll quickly learn that creating the wedding guest list is one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning. Unfortunately, choosing your wedding’s guest list is a little more complicated than simply inviting guests you’d like to celebrate with.
There are other factors to consider that can cause conflict if not handled properly. If you are having a hard time with your wedding guest list, here are our top tips and advice on guest list etiquette to help make the process a little easier.
Make a Draft With Only Your Partner
Before you involve the opinions of your families and friends:
- Sit down with your partner to make a list together.
- Start with your immediate families, then include close family members that you really want to be there.
- Move on to close friends who you cannot imagine not being there for your big day.
Remember, this is just your starting point and should cover the must-have people on your list.
Decide Which Relatives to Invite
Inviting extended families can be tricky, especially if you have a large family. For more distant kin, the general rule of thumb is to group like with like, and either invite everyone or none at all.
For example, if a second cousin gets an invitation, then all of your second cousins should also get an invitation. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to treat both sides of the aisles the same. Every family is different in terms of closeness, so you and your partner should decide what would be best for your own family.
Etiquette on Coworkers
The same guest list grouping rule applies to coworkers: include everyone in the department or don’t invite anyone from the office at all. An exception here would be any colleague you see socially outside of work and is indeed a friend.
The Plus-One Dilemma
A common dilemma that nearly all couples face is whether or not to let wedding attendees bring a date. While you don’t want a single person to feel left out, including plus-ones can mean that there will be several people you don’t know sharing your big day.
A good rule to follow is to invite the spouse or fiancé of a relative or friend. Beyond that, most couples draw the line by including only significant others, meaning long-term partners. If you decide to make this rule, it should be applied across the board.
Make the Call on Children
It’s common and acceptable to keep kids off your wedding guest list entirely, especially if you’re having a formal dinner. The decision is entirely up to you and your partner, but always choose a clear rule and stick to it.
You can also decide on an age threshold, as older kids tend to be better behaved, or restrict it to only immediate family. Remember not to grant any exceptions. This would feel rude to guests who have abided by your wishes.
If you’re unsure how to tell guests that your wedding is child-free, do so in your invitation. For example, if your friend has a 13-year-old and a four-year-old, write the elder child’s name on the invitation only. You can also call beforehand to clarify and explain that you have decided not to include young children at the wedding to avoid any confusion.
Couples Whose Wedding You Attended Recently
This can be a tricky one. The etiquette is that if your friend’s wedding was recent (18 months or less), and you’re still close, they should be on your guest list. However, if your wedding is smaller or your friendship has changed, then it is acceptable to leave them off the list.
If They Sent a Gift
Do you have to include people who send engagement or early wedding presents in your guest list? The answer is no. However, if you’re worried that this person is now expecting an invitation, then discuss the situation with whoever is closest to them. For example, if they’re your mother’s friend, then she will be your best guide to what her friend expects and how she will react.
Uninviting a Guest
Wedding planning can sometimes take years, and a lot can happen in that time. If you and one of your wedding guests have a falling out, are you obligated to keep them on the list?
The question to consider is, “How serious is this falling out?” Uninviting them would indicate that you no longer want them in your life, while including them could be a gesture of forgiveness and reconciliation. So, you have to decide which message you want to send.
Final Questions to Ask Yourself
Are you still having trouble? If so, here are some questions to consider when you and your partner are trying to narrow down the final wedding guest list:
- Have I met this person? Believe it or not, it’s common for brides and grooms to be introduced to people for the first time at their wedding. Don’t be too generous with plus-ones and extra guests if you want to avoid this!
- When did I last see this person? A general rule of thumb is that if you haven’t kept in touch in the last 12 to 18 months, then you probably shouldn’t invite them.
- Am I inviting the rest of their family? Unfortunately, you cannot pick and choose your family. If you have five cousins, but you’re only close to two, then you should invite all of them.
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