Choosing your guest list – who are your real friends?

Before I got engaged, I didn’t quite realise or appreciate the way in which getting married forces you to re-evaluate your friendships.

I had always assumed that friends I hadn’t seen for a long time would somehow get back in touch and would be at my wedding, that I’d have room for casual friends because I cared more about people than about spending lots of money per head.

The only way to write a guest list is to be brutal. Both you and your fiance need to sit down and write up a list of all the people you’d have at your wedding if you had unlimited room and a massive budget. Then narrow it down by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Do I have to invite them?

There are some people, family members and old friends, that you pretty much have to invite because it really won’t be worth the trouble it will cause not to! I wouldn’t advise this across the board, but there are some instances where you pretty much have to just swallow your objections and keep the peace.

2. Do I want to invite them?

You may be inviting friends and acquaintances out of a sense of obligation. You may have created that sense of obligation yourself. Are they attached to you in any real way? Will they still be in your life after the wedding on a regular basis? Are they a close relative? If the answers are no, then the obligation is in your head. You don’t have to invite anyone, even if they invited themselves, that you don’t want to!

3. Would they invite me to their wedding?

When you think about it, family will usually take up the majority of your invite list. Mine and my H2B’s combined families, for example, come to about 60 people! Therefore, as much as it might be nice to have some people at your wedding, if they’re not essential to your day, ie it won’t be the same without them, then consider either inviting them to the evening only or crossing them off your list.

4. Do they really need that plus one?

My rule of thumb is: plus ones only go to friends in long-term relationships, for example when a couple lives together, is engaged or getting married. Don’t let friends pressure you into giving them plus ones for dates. You’ll end up doubling the size, and cost, of your wedding, and filling it with people you don’t know. Equally, if a friend is in a committed relationship but will know lots of people at the wedding and isn’t in a particularly codependent relationship, ask them whether or not they’d like you to invite their other half. You’d be surprised how many wouldn’t.

5. Kids or no kids?

That one is up to you. Some couples feel that children are an integral and crucial part of their big day, others can’t bear the thought of a baby screaming through their vows.  If you choose not to have kids at the wedding, don’t have exceptions or it will cause rows later on. Make it clear on the invitation that the invite is for adults only as to avoid an awkward situation. Alternatively, you could hire a babysitter and have an on-site creche, although that can be costly. Remember, if you ban kids, some of your friends might not be able to make it, so take that into careful consideration when making your decision – do the people you really want there come with kids?

6. Will we still be in contact in a year’s time?

This is the easiest factor to eliminating people from your guest list. You might be really friendly with somebody, or have been really friendly with them in the past, but if you feel they’re a casual friend and you may not still be, or want to be in touch with them in a year’s time, don’t invite them to the wedding. Weddings are for long-term friends, people with whom you’ll look back on the day in years to come. You don’t want to look through your wedding album in ten years and think “who’s that again?”


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