How To Decide On Your Wedding Guest List {Weddings Planning | Ideas | Inspiration}

by Juliette Sivertsen

how to decide on your wedding guest list {weddings planning | ideas | inspiration}

Deciding who to invite to your wedding can be one of the most challenging aspects of wedding planning. 

Perhaps you desperately want all your girlfriends from your school days, your fiance wants to keep numbers tight and your parents insist on having family friends and relatives you haven’t seen in years. This happens regularly!

The reality of wedding planning is you have to learn to compromise and negotiate. Most people are understanding about the cost of weddings so don’t choose someone just because you think they’ll feel left out - each guest will want to be invited because the bride & groom genuinely want them to be there. 

There are no rules about who you have to invite at your wedding - it’s a day to celebrate the bride and groom’s commitment to each other, not about everyone else getting a free dinner.

how to decide on your wedding guest list {weddings planning | ideas | inspiration}


We wanted to keep numbers around the 80 mark, which ended up as a huge challenge and left us with feeling a bit sad we couldn’t have everyone we wanted at our wedding. 

Being the youngest of five children, with all my older siblings married and most with children, my family list for the wedding was extensive before we started counting other relatives. My husband, on the other hand, is an only child with many cousins, aunties and uncles on each of his parents’ side. 

Having a wedding with immediate family only was never going to work and we ended up with 75% of our guests being family. Family is exceptionally important to both of us so it was great we had so many relatives present to celebrate our day. But it did make it exceptionally difficult to choose only a few friends each to witness our day. We had to make some pretty tough calls. 

Here are a few things you’ll need to consider for your wedding guest list. 

how to decide on your wedding guest list {weddings planning | ideas | inspiration}


The first thing to consider when deciding who gets an invitation is the size of your wedding. One of the first things to do when planning a wedding is deciding on your budget. This budget will help determine how much you want to spend on each person and whether you want a small and intimate wedding with closest friends and family only or a big-fat-Greek-wedding style affair. 

Do you want family only? Closest friends only? Adults only or are children an important part of your lives? 

If you want a big wedding with all your friends and family, but have a tiny budget, don’t be afraid to think outside the square. You don’t have to have a big sit down dinner - there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from a more casual afternoon cocktail function to avoid the cost of meals per head.

how to decide on your wedding guest list {weddings planning | ideas | inspiration}


Rather than simply considering who you want at your wedding, ask yourselves, who do you want to witness your wedding vows? Your wedding day is just one day, but it’s the day your marriage begins. Who are the people that will be there to support your marriage in years to come? What role does this person have in your life and what role will they have in future? 

Friendships can come and go but your marriage is a lifelong commitment. It’s okay to be picky about who you want at your wedding because it’s about you and your future spouse and the life you are embarking on together. Choose friends who will be proud to witness your commitment to each other and happy to be part of your marriage in years to come. 

If you’re still unsure about a potential guest, consider the following: 

-When was the last time you saw each other in person? 

-When was the last time that person contacted you or arranged a catch-up? 

-Was the person there for you in a recent time of need? 

-What will happen to the relationship or friendship if this person does not come? 

-Will this person be in your life in 10 years time? 

-Will this person support me in my marriage or draw me away from my spouse?  

how to decide on your wedding guest list {weddings planning | ideas | inspiration}


Sometimes parents want to have some of their friends at your wedding, especially if it is an old family friend who has been part of your life for as long as you can remember. As a rule of thumb, if your parents are contributing financially, then yes, you will have to accept they will want a say in the wedding guest list. 

If the two of you are paying for the entire wedding yourself, then you have a little more room to say no. Be polite and consider your parents’ requests with manners rather than a screaming match of ‘THIS IS MY WEDDING NOT YOURS!” Let’s keep it all respectful! Be open to any suggestions or requests and consider them carefully rather than shutting it down without even thinking about it. Your parents will probably want to take a little credit for raising you to this point in your life so try and be understanding and work with them, not against them. 

Having said that, remind them that this wedding is about the commitment you and your spouse are making to each other. You can stress to them how important it is to have guests by your side that will be there to support your in future decades and will still be around to celebrate your 40th wedding anniversary!

how to decide on your wedding guest list {weddings planning | ideas | inspiration}


What if you don’t like some of your partner’s friends or family? Well, consider how you would feel if your spouse took an issue with someone you considered to be a close friend or relative. We’re not all going to get along with everyone at all times but if they’re an important person to your spouse then be supportive. 

There are some exceptions to this rule. If a friend or relative is at risk of causing serious damage or harm to the wedding or your wedding guests, if they’re disrespectful to your decision to marry or rude to other family members and friends then perhaps an honest, open but polite discussion is in order.

If you have any friends who you are concerned might get a bit heavy on the drink, you can either politely remind them there will be family members present and suggest taking it easy, or even ask one of your bridal party members to keep an eye out during the night in order to keep the wedding running smoothly without any chaos. 

At the end of the day, your wedding is about the two of you and your commitment to each other. Both of you get a say in who gets to witness your wedding vows and celebrate with you. Be polite, but be honest and keep communication open. You may have to make some tough calls in order to keep numbers within the limit. Be supportive of one another when coming up with your guest list. 

Photographs by Levien & Lens Photography

Wedding Artists - New Zealand wedding photographers

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