When I planned my own wedding, the challenge was prioritizing who was most important to have attend. Obviously, certain family members and close friends were invited. But from there, I had to stick to a strict budget and shrink my guest list down from all the people I knew from church, theater groups, long-distance friends, extended family, and many, many others.
So, I took this approach – and it really helped.
Decide Who is Currently Most Influential in Your Life
I’m someone who makes friends practically everywhere I go. If you’re like me at all, that means you’ve got way more names on your list than you should invite for your big day. But they all feel so, so important!
The reality is, though, that not everyone is as close or needs to be as close as everyone else. And when it comes to planning your guest list, it’s important to think that through.
Who is is the most active in your life? You might have a thousand friends on Facebook that, at some point, have been important to you – but the question is, who is right now?
Choosing the people who matter the most in your life right now is tough, sure, but it’s one of the best ways to determine who gets an invite.
Skip the casual acquaintances, the friends you just made last month, and the folks you haven’t been hanging out with in a few years. I know this can be tough (trust me, I know!) but if those folks aren’t really a part of your life anymore – like they only knew you got engaged because your Facebook post popped up – you don’t need to include them. They likely haven’t included you in their big days, either, but even if they did, if you’re not close any more, then an invite really isn’t necessary.
Compromise to Meet Your Partner’s Needs and Desires
If your partner is somebody who doesn’t speak up a lot about their needs, this is one of those areas that it’s particularly important to ask a compromise in. Your friends and family are important – but so are your partner’s.
This may mean that your partner wants more guests – or fewer guests than you were planning on.
It’s important to discuss this figure and find the right number together. If your partner wants 400 guests and you really only want 100, this could be really challenging. But since it’s both of your special day, it’s important to work through it to find that happy middle ground.
Cut the Obligatory Invites
Closely related to the “closest” people question is the obligatory invitation question.
There are folks in our lives – or more often adjacent to our lives – that give off the vibe of “obligation” wherever they go. Because they attended some event way back – or you did – or they know someone you’re close to, these folks feel like people who need to be at your wedding.
The truth is, though, that obligatory invites aren’t necessary.
This is especially true with old partners, old friends, anyone you’ve had a long-term falling out with, people you barely know, and (yes) co-workers.
If you’re not actually friends with the folks you feel an obligation to, skip sending the invites.
If the person you feel obligated to is a relative, you might have to weigh and balance this a bit more, but ultimately the same idea applies: if you’re distantly related and don’t spend time together except in crowds, they really are an obligatory invite, not a “good” invite.
Cut the Folks You’d Regret in Photos Years Later
I wouldn’t say I have any wedding photos of folks I regret inviting, but there are definitely some who I feel bad about every time I thumb through our wedding album. And there are a few I’m really grateful didn’t show who I had invited out of obligation.
If you have people on the initial list who you know you’d later cringe, sigh, or roll your eyes over seeing in your wedding album, ditch their name from the list and move on. Think long-term when it comes to the day and skip out on exes and people you’re on the outs with.
Skip the “Extras” from Friends and Family
One of the big complaints I’ve heard from brides and grooms about the wedding invite list exploding is the list of people their friends and family members think they should invite. I’m here to tell you, forget them. Just don’t do it. If someone is really important for your friend to bring, that person can be your friend’s plus-one. Otherwise, they’ll just have to forget about it. This is your special day, not that family member’s or co-worker’s.