Who to Invite To Your Wedding

It is so easy to start what you believe to be a conservative list and find it adds up to 200 people. Collectively, you and your partner probably know a stack of people! And then there are your parents' friends, relatives that expect an invitation, assumptive co-workers… It can all get quite out of hand!

Here are some handy tips to get your guest list under control:

1.    Sit down with your partner and make a list of everyone you can think of that may warrant an invitation. Ask your parents for their lists of must-haves, too. Especially if they are contributing towards the cost of the wedding, they will most likely expect some input.

2.   When it comes to friends, apply the 12-month rule. If you haven’t been involved in each other’s lives within the past 12 months, you don’t need to invite them. Same with relatives, but make it five years – if you haven’t seen them in the past five years, and don’t expect to in the next five, cross them off. Of course, use some discretion for your fave cousin you are forced to catch up with only via Skype because she has been residing in the South of France for a decade. If for no other reason than you might want to crash at her place when you honeymoon Europe, *wink*.

3.    Address the invitation only to the people you intend to invite, and specify if it is a child-free event. If your single friends are seeing somebody, find out their name and address it accordingly. Do not put “Name and Guest”, because if the relationship ends, your friend may feel the need to find a random to bring along, which you probably don’t want at your wedding. Alternatively, don’t include a date invitation at all, simply invite your friend.

4.   Unless you have formed a real friendship, where you spend time together outside of work, don’t feel pressured to invite work colleagues. However, some strategic invitations to bosses and superiors may not be a bad thing for your future with the company!

5.   Once you have done the count and no doubt discovered you are way over the mark, start culling. Ask your parents to cross a few off their lists, too. Don’t get frustrated with them if they are adamant about keeping Great Uncle Ted on there. Simply point out all of the people you have had to cull, and try to engage in some fair compromising.

6.   Keep a second list of people to invite if you get some people from your initial short list regretfully decline. Organise them in order of priority and have their invitations ready to go as spaces open up.

7.   It is not necessary to make sure both sides have an equal number of guests. It is more important that everybody who is invited is genuinely important to one or both parties. Don’t try to play catch-up if one side far outweighs the other due to a larger family or the location making it difficult for people from one side to attend. Instead, don’t have “sides” of the ceremony location – ask your ushers to direct everyone to stand or site wherever they like.

Emma Nayler Photographer is responsible for this beautiful photo. Of course it's not a Sunshine Coast wedding, but it's the very special wedding of a very special Sunshine Coast couple and I was lucky enough to attend as a guest. Congratulations Kate and Andy, married just last week!

Take a look through our Planning Tools, where you will find a helpful printable guest list tracker and table setting planner.  


Hi, I’m Sally, Founder and Editor of The Bride’s Tree. Over the past 13 years I’ve written thousands of articles about all things wedding from tips and trends to etiquette and ideas. On this blog I bring you the best of Sunshine Coast and Brisbane weddings.