Compiling your wedding guest list is probably one of the first things you’ll do when you start wedding planning. It will affect your choice of venue, and how you allocate your budget. For some couples, it’s a straight-forward process, for others, well, it’s a lot less clear-cut. When it comes to asking yourself who do have to invite to your wedding, there are no hard and fast rules. But we’ve put together a general guide that might help you prioritise some guests over others, and work out who you really want there, and who you can leave off the wedding guest list altogether.
It may seem really cruel to split your friends and family up into lists, but it’s a practical way to do it, and let’s face it, we’ve all been a C-list wedding guest at least once in our lives, are we right? Of course, who you invite to your wedding is entirely personal, so your A-D list might vary vastly from ours. In your family, your cousins might feel more like siblings, perhaps having lots of children at your wedding is a high priority, or maybe you want to keep your guest list as small as possible – perhaps even elope! Simply put, you should invite all the people you want there, and you shouldn’t feel forced to invite anyone you’d rather not have in attendance. So let’s get started!
A-List: The Guests You Need to Invite to your Wedding
These are the people you simply can’t imagine getting married without – the Desert Island Discs of wedding guests. For some couples this might cover 10 people, for others this might be 50. So sit down with your other half and ask yourselves, “If we decided we were going to get married tomorrow morning, who would we call first?”
1. Your parents
2. Your siblings
3. Your closest friends
4. Your own children
B-List: The Guests You Really, Really Want to Invite to your Wedding
Generally couples would still consider this group of people an extension of the A-list, but we’ve separated it to help you work out why you want certain guests in attendance, rather than blindly typing names into a spreadsheet. These are the special people you’d love to spend your wedding day with, and are important to you to have there, but it wouldn’t ruin your day if they couldn’t make it at the last minute.
5. Your grandparents
6. Your nieces and nephews
7. Your closest aunts and uncles
8. Your wider circle of pals
C-List: The Guests You’ll Invite to Your Wedding If Your Venue/Budget Allows
This is where it starts to get difficult. These are guests you’d really like to have along at your wedding, or guests that it would be difficult not to invite (some families for example, have an all-or-nothing approach on aunties and uncles or cousins). But when it comes down to budgetary restraints, the size of your venue, or simply the vibe you want for your day, you may have to draw a line somewhere among the following…
9. All your aunts and uncles
10. All your cousins
11. Plus ones of guests when the relationship is new/plus ones you don’t know very well
12. Travel buddies
13. Old friends you haven’t seen in ages (Facebook doesn’t count!)
14. Your closest work pals
D-List: The Guests You Might Feel Obliged to Invite to Your Wedding
Ah, the D-list. So depending on the kind of wedding you’re having (and who’s paying for it!) this assortment of would-be guests may or may not make the cut. Customarily, if your parents are paying for your wedding, they’ll get to ask along some guests, and if you have a church ceremony, it’s polite to ask the priest to the meal. But when it comes to feeling obliged to invite your boss, the friends of friends who invited you to their wedding, or your entire hurling team – that’s probably where you need to hit the brakes.
15. The priest
16. The neighbours
17. Friends of your parents
18. Children of guests (depending on your friend and family group, there may be a lot of these!)
19. Everyone from the local golf/rugby/tennis club
20. People who invited you to their wedding
21. All your work colleagues
Tips for Making Your Wedding Guest List
- It might be helpful to remember that, whether you’re having 20 wedding guests or 220, there has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere. Some people make the cut, and some people don’t – it’s tricky no matter what. By upping your guest list by 50, the goal posts may have changed, but the tough decisions are still there!
- Have you ever not been invited to a wedding you thought you’d be asked to? Did you really mind? Probably not, or not for very long anyway. Of course, anyone would be excited about the prospect of sharing your day with you, but do remember, people are normally more understanding than you’d think and know the constraints of a guest list.
- Lots of people say to over-invite, as 10-20% of guests will turn you down, but that can be a dangerous game to play, unless your venue, and your budget are flexible. You never know, all those people you invited from Australia out of politeness, might just use your wedding as an excuse for a holiday in Ireland!
- When it comes to who gets a plus one for your wedding, generally it’s anyone who’s married, engaged, or in a long-term relationship. One handy exception to this, though, is if you’re inviting a gang of pals together without partners (say your work buds or football teammates – a group you only spend time with, away from their other halves). You should also give a plus one to anyone coming who won’t know anyone else. We’ve written on this in more detail here.
- Whether or not to invite children to your wedding is another really tricky area (that deserves a post of its own!), but remember that having lots of children present may significantly alter the feel of the day, so be sure to think about it carefully either way (and give lots of notice to parents if the little ones aren’t invited!). Most couples take an all-or-nothing approach to children at weddings, while some make an exception for children of immediate family members. An exception should be made for guests with newborn and breastfeeding babies, too.
- Don’t forget about The Afters! The after party provides a magical escape clause that allows you to have every cousin, old school pal, and great-grand-aunt along for a drink and a dance. If you’re really struggling with your guest list – and the prospective guests live close enough to the wedding venue – The Afters can help get you out of any tricky guest list situations.
Got a wedding guest list dilemma? You should find the answer here, and be sure to sign up to the One Fab Day newsletter for more great adivce!