• Paula Stanton

The Guest List...

How in the world do you decide who should or shouldn’t be invited you your wedding? A little backstory: This blog is inspired by one of my couples who was having a difficult time with their parents and deciding who should be invited to their wedding. You have friends, your parents have friends, your Fiancés parents have friends and family, your friends have friends and your friends’ friends have friends! And we haven’t even touched co-workers, children, childhood friends….

I hope to help you make these decisions a bit more easily. But, remember there are always exceptions to rules, and you get to make those rules. So, don’t be surprised if it is still difficult even after following some of these tips.


1. Traditionally, a good starting point is that you and your fiancé get to decide 50% of the invitees, and each set of parents get 25%. Exception: if one side has a bigger family – that could potentially sway the numbers.

2. Who is paying? A good ol’ fashioned sit-down discussion can go a long way early in the guest list process. If you are not comfortable with the obligation and compromises that comes with having a parent pulling the purse strings than don’t accept the money. Or, if the guest list gets out of control on the groom’s side, you could ask your future in-laws to contribute to the wedding to help cover costs. If you and your fiancé are paying for the wedding – then you can be more firm about the decision process.

Step 1. Do the Math. Your high school teacher was right. You will use this when you grow up. Your budget is a huge factor in deciding your guest list. Is your wedding a local or a destination wedding? Do you want a big or small affair? Is it during “season?” Is it a sit down or buffet meal? All of these will determine how many guests you can invite.

So is the venue, so If you have your heart set on a particular wedding site that could potentially cap your list as well.

Step 2.

Make an “A” list. This list should include the most important people you want to invite. Family and very close friends.

Make a “B” list. This list are the people you still want there but don’t qualify as “A” list invitees. Once your “A” list is finalized and there is room for more guests you can start adding the “B” listers. See the guidelines below to help make those decisions. Once everything is figured out send out “A” list invites a bit early – 10-12 weeks early and if you get some regrets you can fill them with more “B” listers. Those should go out at the more traditional time frame of 6 weeks or so.

Step 3.

How to decide…

Rule 1: Do you see them socially? Yes? Decide if they are “A” listers or “B” listers.

Rule 2: Not crazy about inviting children to your party? Don't feel bad about having an adults-only wedding. Rule 3: If neither of you has spoken to them in three years and they're not related to you, there is no obligation to invite them.

Rule 4: You were invited to their wedding. If it was within 18 months or so – they should probably be invited. If it was several years ago – there is no obligation to invite them.

Rule 5: Co-workers - Include everyone in your department, or none at all. An exception would be any colleague you see socially.

And so, the guest list will evolve into a final head count. Again, communication is key and very important to make sure everyone’s expectations are on the same page. Be open and honest with your family and each other about who will be invited. Try to enjoy the process and remember, this is your day to enjoy and love. Keep your eye on the ball and it will be an amazing event you will cherish forever.

See you at your wedding 



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