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Trimming Your Wedding Guest List

Determine who makes the cut…

Paring the guest list down to size can be as formidable as predicting the weather for an outdoor spring ceremony. To determine who makes the cut, ask yourself these “to invite or not invite” qualifying questions. If you answer mostly yeses, extend the invite. If nays have the majority, save the postage – and the meal cost. 

1) Guests from Afar

Some people (siblings, close friends) will make your A-list regardless of where they live, but others (second cousins, old sorority pals) fall into a gray area when they reside far from your wedding locale.  These long-distance guests may be unable to travel to your nuptials, so is an invite merely a gift request in disguise? Decide on a case-by-case basis.

  • Have you seen or spoken to them within the last six months?
  • Have you exchanged invites to other milestone events (their wedding, graduations, hallmark birthdays)?
  • Are they close with other invited guests?

Rule of Thumb:
If your special day would not feel complete without your college roommate who now resides in New Zealand, go ahead and send an invitation. Let your guests decide for themselves whether or not they want to travel.

2) Pint-Sized Partiers

Not inviting children can make for tough planning for some of your guests, but the opposite can make for some interesting moments you hadn’t included in your wedding day dreams – like crying babies during the vows.

  • Are you planning a relaxed daytime event?
  • Does your budget and venue size make inviting all children a possibility?
  • Can your caterer provide kid-friendly menu choices at a reduced cost?

Rule of Thumb:
Have a blanket no-children policy or make a sweeping cut based on age (no one under 13), as picking and choosing may offend some parents. If you anticipate complaints, schedule a black-tie evening affair, which is generally understood to be a kid-free zone. 

3) “And Guest”

If space or budget won’t allow the extra guests, ask yourself these questions before making single pals come solo… 

  • Have you ever met their significant other?
  • Is this person in a committed relationship (living together or engaged)?
  • Will s/he be the token bachelor or bachelorette?
  • Must s/he travel and plan overnight accommodations?

Rule of Thumb
Sure, it’s nice to let your unmarried friends bring a date, but unless that date is a long-term love (living together or engaged), you don’t have to send the “and Guest” invite. Just be sure to handle seating arrangements with care – your single friend probably won’t appreciate a table of couples sharing stories about how they fell in love. 

4) Office Space

Deciding which coworkers to include depends on the size of your office and the nature of your relationships.

  • Do you regularly socialize outside of work?
  • Is your office or department close-knit and small (fewer than five people)?
  • Is your work relationship with a few direct supervisors or assistants particularly close?

Rule of Thumb
If you work in a small office, best to follow the all-or-none policy. In a larger office, you can safely invite your happy-hour crew, specific department, direct supervisors, and/or assistants without incurring the wrath of the uninvited.