Wedding & Function
Wedding & Function

Etiquette: Planning your Guest List

Where do I start with my wedding guest list?

Draw up a list of everyone you’d like to invite to your wedding in an ideal world and sort them into four categories. The people who must be invited at all costs are parents, siblings and best friends - your priorities should be on parents and siblings attending the whole event; best friends can come to the evening ceremony.
If there is space, then you can invite the friends that you still see or keep in contact with regularly – including work colleagues (if you’ve been there a while) and long-term mates from university, gym etc., ultimatley be true to yourself and invite the people you want to share your day with.

Do I need to invite my co-workers?

Frankly, you do not have to invite everyone you work with. If you choose to invite them, pick a logical dividing line - like your immediate division or team, so that nobody at your office feels excluded. Remember to treat any invited co-workers as you would friends. Mail invitations to their home addresses and discuss wedding plans outside of the office.

Do I need to invite someone I casually mentioned the wedding to?

Casually talking about the wedding is okay just don’t mention an invitation if it’s not going to be followed by a formal one. It’s impolite to uninvite a wedding guest, even if it was a verbal commitment. If you have to, diplomatically skirt around the issue by saying you haven’t finalized the wedding guest list.

If someone asked me to attend their wedding, must I invite them to mine?

Don’t feel obligated to reciprocate; but if you feel it’s not proper, ask them to be a reader or to fulfil some other role at your wedding. Similarly, it’s a nice gesture to include your fiance’s siblings in the wedding party, but you are not required to do so.

What if we are getting married abroad?

Stick to close family and best friends only. When you come back, and then hold a post-wedding party for everyone else. If you want to, you can give your other friends the option of coming along but make it very clear that you won’t be offended if they cannot join you.

The question of ‘plus ones’

Like the wedding budget, there is never enough space for everyone on the guest list. Make sure you prioritise on those who really matter. Don’t feel obliged to include a ‘plus one’ for everyone. The exceptions are guests who are in a committed relationship, whether married, engaged, or in a live-in partnership, and those who won’t know anyone else at the wedding - even if you haven’t met their other half.
Don’t forget, too, that it is considered the height of rudeness for a wedding guest to ask for a ‘plus one’ or to assume that a partner is invited. If someone does show up with an uninvited guest, avoid an uncomfortable situation by finding a place for them and follow up with the invited guest via a polite phone call afterward.

How do I get my wedding guests to RSVP?

Give your wedding guests enough time between the invitation’s arrival and the RSVP deadline. Sending pre-stamped enclosure cards or permitting RSVP via email may also encourage guests to respond faster. Make follow-up calls to guests who have yet to reply in time. This is a great time to ask your wedding party or family for some help.

Do I still need to send a wedding invitation to someone whom I know is not coming?

Since a wedding invitation comes with the expectation of a gift, you don’t want people thinking you want their gift even though they cannot attend - so rather don’t send invitations to someone who let you know that they are not coming. If its family or very close friends, you may send an invitation anyway but with a note that explains you are sending it as a keepsake.

No-children allowed

Nowadays, many couples decide not to invite kids on their wedding day - but it must be handled carefully. The majority of your guests will respect your decision and make suitable arrangements, but there will be a few who may want to make you feel uncomfortable about your decision.
Remember, it’s your day and stick to your decision. Make no exceptions, even for your best friend or closest family member, as it may seem unfair to the other guests who have organized childcare. It also often helps to give a reason and make a specific age cut-off point - for example; “unfortunately due to the limited size of the Luxury Hotel, we have decided not to invite children under the age of eight”.

I’m paying for the wedding myself, how do I tell my parents, I can’t invite certain people?

The best idea is to give your parents a fixed number of seats so they can fill them as they wish. If there are certain people you do not want in attendance, then have a private and honest conversation with them when you first discuss the wedding guest list. Don’t insist that your parents settle with the situation, but be clear about your wishes.

Am I obligated to invite a wedding guest’s date to the rehearsal dinner?

Because the rehearsal dinner is traditionally a close-knit event for wedding participants and family, it is not necessary to extend an invitation to an attendee’s wedding guest.


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