Who to invite to your wedding

One of the first and most important tasks you’ll have to complete in order to plan your wedding will be to make your guest list. The size of your guest list affects almost every other aspect of wedding planning, including how much money you’ll spend, what type of venue you can use, the atmosphere and formality of the wedding, and how many invitations you’ll need. 

There are different approaches to building a guest list. Some couples want to be able to invite whoever they want with no limits, and will have whatever type of wedding they need to have to be able to make that happen. On the other end of the spectrum, some people will invite only 10-20 very close relatives, so that they can go all out with the most glamorous meal, venue, dress, and decor with only their favorite people in the world. A lot of people fall somewhere in between. 

I recommend starting out with your “dream” guest list - everyone you would invite if finances and physical constraints weren’t an issue. This will at least give you a starting point, from which you will likely have to start making cuts to narrow down the list. On the other hand, maybe when you and your fiancé sit down and actually look at it, there are only 50 or so people you really want to be there, and you don’t have to worry! 

One of the trickiest things about guest lists is that you usually have to ultimately coordinate three guest lists, usually divided between:

  1. the bride and groom’s friends
  2. the bride’s parents’ friends and family
  3. the groom’s parents’ friends and family

One approach is to give each of these three sections 1/3 of the guest list. Of course, that may not work so well if one side has a bigger family or lives out of state and probably won’t be able to attend.

Another thing to consider when making your guest list is that the people contributing financially may deserve more influence over invitees. If your parents are paying, that might mean you should allocate more of the guest list to their family and friends. 

Here are some other etiquette guidelines to consider when planning your guest list:


Post, Peggy. Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette. 5th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Print.

Haar, Amanda R. The Wedding Blue Book. Dalton: Crane, 2007. Print.