How to make your Wedding Guest List

Arguably the most challenging part of planning any wedding is writing the wedding guest list. The challenges and agendas this process presents are endless, and remain the same no matter the size or type of wedding. From a small civil ceremony in the town hall to a traditional Indian wedding with a capacity of 500 guests to comply with, couples will still ask one another the same questions.

We find that one of the most complicating factors is family and who will be disappointed if you don’t invite A, B or C. In an attempt to logically and practically guide you through this process we have 5 simple points of consideration for you…

Agree to Wedding Guest List ‘Managers’

Decide upon who needs to be involved in the process straight away. Whether that be just the two of you, or respective parents and grandparents as well. By ‘Managers’ we mean equal parties within the process, not just someone who chips in occasionally. Anyone assigned as a Manager has a right to their say and is an important figure in the process. We recommend that if parents are financial contributors to your wedding that they be assigned Managers along with yourselves, as a sign of respect to them. But be ready for them to disagree with you and most importantly respect their feelings on the matter.

If you do not want your parents etc. to be a part of this process, be brave and make this clear to them from the very beginning. Don’t sit half way, asking their opinion on certain things but not others, as this will only lead to confusion and hurt feelings.

Quantify Your Relationship

This is possibly the most complex part of the proceeding, so do it before you get into arguing who wants them there or not.

We recommend 4 clear boxes, which are:

  1. Family (this means parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or cousin. No more, no less.)
  2. Friend (see our next point on how to quantify ‘friendship’)
  3. Colleague
  4. Miscellaneous

You will find that a great number of people will fall into the fourth category and that is the category that requires a little more of your time.

You may define a colleague as also a friend, in which case place them firmly in the Friend category. Then ask yourself whether you really want work associates at your wedding day if they are not also classified as a friend.

Have You Spent Time With Them In The Past Year?

If the answer is ‘No’, remove them immediately. If there is no genuine relationship there, make your lives easier and eliminate the complication.

Who Would Be Affected If They Weren’t There?

This is worth considering for partners of friends, or family that you may not have met and become acquainted with. Rather than analyse the likelihood of how long their relationship will last, and whether you want exes on your wedding photos, consider the feelings of the guests you have an actual relationship with and how their enjoyment of the day would be affected. If you risk hurting their feelings by excluding their chosen partner, swallow your pride and invite them. This will fortify your relationship with them in the long term.

Similarly, if your parents have close friends that you are unacquainted with, but who have been instrumental to your parents, it may be worth considering whether the quality of your parent’s experience of the day would be improved with them being there. This is why we recommend clarifying whether your parents have a say in this process from the very start. If you assign them as Guest List Managers and they would like their friend/s to attend, let them.

Would the Day Be The Same Without Them?

If you have people remaining on your Miscellaneous list, who have remained there throughout the previous questions, and if you can genuinely answer ‘Yes’ to this, remove them from the list. Don’t waste any more time and analysis to this.

Are They Likely to Contribute To Your Marriage?

Your Miscellaneous list (we hope) will have shrunk considerably by now, but if there are still some stragglers, this is perhaps the most important question.

During the guest list writing process, we find that the wedding party spend a lot of time discussing the past relationship and present relationship with people, but not so much the future. And this, after all, is what a wedding day is all about – your Marriage. You will need people, besides your family, to stand beside you, support you, bring wisdom, fun and love into your lives.

If you cannot answer ‘Yes’ honestly to this question, waste no further time discussing it.

Finally, accept that your wedding day is one day and the likelihood is that you won’t invite people that years later you wish you had, or you do invite people that immediately you really wish you hadn’t. It’s an almost impossible task and you can only be honest and do your best. Try not to let the here and now impact your decision making and consider the bigger picture.