Tips On Preparing Your Wedding Guest List
Successfully negotiating who to invite to your celebration is no one’s idea of a good time. Which friends or family make the cut? Do you send save-the-dates to coworkers? Get all the answers and master the method by following these simple etiquette guidelines.
Choosing Friends to Invite
Just because you traded friendship bracelets on the playground doesn’t mean you owe them an invite to your wedding. You must ask yourself when deciding which pals to include: Do expect you on having dinner with them sometime in the next year? If yes, add them to your A-list. If you were once tight but haven’t been in regular contact for ages, keep their name on the B-list.
Picking Your Relatives
Inviting your immediate family is no brainer, as well as your aunts, uncles, first cousins, and grandparents. But for more distant kin, a good rule of thumb is to group like with like, and either invite the whole bunch, or don’t. For example, you wouldn’t include your favorite second cousin and not her siblings, unless you’re ready for the most awkward Thanksgiving dinner of your life next year.
The same grouping rule applies here: You can invite everyone in your department, or none at all. An exception would be any colleague you see socially outside of the office—in that case, the coworker is truly a friend, not just a person you enjoy ordering lunch with occasionally.
Inviting the Boss, or Not?
If your boss is someone you collaborate closely with, or if the office environment is such that it would reflect awkwardly on you not to ask her, go ahead and address the invite. Of course, you should also put into consideration the nature of your celebration too.
Whether or not to let guests bring dates is a quandary nearly all couples face. On the one hand, you don’t want a single person who might not know much of your crew to feel left out. On the other, writing “and guest” on envelopes means that there will be a good number of people you don’t know sharing your special day (not to mention that you’ll be treating these strangers to a rather pricey dinner and dancing).
If a relative or friend is engaged to be married, their fiancé (or fiancée) must be invited. Beyond that, many people draw the line by inviting only truly significant others, meaning long-term or live-in partners. If you make a rule like that, be sure to apply it across the board.
Also draw your cut-off line at a clearly identifiable place if you do decide to let guests bring a boyfriend or girlfriend. Make an effort to communicate the reasoning to everyone who is not allowed to have someone to accompany them.
Beware, many unmarried people find it tremendously upsetting to not be allowed to bring a date. Prepare them for the idea and pay careful attention to where the singletons sit during dinner. As for your attendants—letting them bring an escort would be a considerate gesture. It’s not required, but they’ve done a lot for you.
It’s totally fine to not invite kids on your wedding day, especially if you’re planning a formal, local dinner. (It might be more difficult to exclude them during casual, daytime celebrations or destination weddings, though.)
When it comes to inviting some kids and not others, opinions vary, so choose a clear rule and stick to it. Set an age rule (older kids tend to be better behaved), or restrict it to immediate family (most children who have wedding duties are close relatives, such as a niece or stepchild—though even they needn’t stay for the reception).
They Invited You
Etiquette’s rule of reciprocal entertaining is pretty strong: If your friends’ wedding was recent, and you are still close—and if your wedding is on a similar scale as theirs, or is larger—they should already be on your guest list. But if your friendship has faded some since their nuptials, or if your wedding is of a smaller size, it is completely appropriate to leave them off your guest list. Exercise some caution if you have mutual friends who are invited; alert those people to the restriction in your guest list, so that they won’t gush on and on about your wedding in front of those not invited, and create an awkward moment for everyone.