Wedding Advice | The Dreaded Guestlist

The Dreaded Guest list

Deciding which Great Aunt will make the cut, which cousin gets to bring a date, and which primary school friend cracks the nod – is one of the most stressful and terrifying aspects of wedding planning. You desperately want everyone to feel included, but you don’t want to have a room full of random people sharing your most special day. It can be quite tricky finding the balance between who to invite and who to leave off the guest list, so we have put together a few tips to try and help you in your decision making and hopefully avoid any major drama before the official wedding planning has even begun.  


What is your wedding vision:

When you picture yourself at your wedding, is it an intimate back yard wedding, or a big community affair? Are you surrounded by your closest family and friends or are there crowds of people dancing at the reception? Having that discussion with your partner will set a tone for your wedding and offer some guidance when figuring out numbers. There really is no point discussing venues when you don’t have a clue how many people you will need the venue to accommodate.  

Who makes the A list (And B and C lists):

If you are planning to have a big wedding and your budget is limitless, you may be able to invite everyone you have ever wanted, from your primary school bestie to your boss’s wife. For every other bride, you need to create lists to help you select guests objectively, as this will really help when you have that budgeting discussion.

A list – Immediate family and closest friends. “There will be no wedding unless these people are there”.

B List – Friends who you are close to now, but whom you may not be in touch with in 10 years time. “We love spending time with you and share a lot of our current lives with you.”

C List – Obligated or uncertain invites. “Sure honey, your Zumba instructor and cousin Ted can definitely come.”

Be firm – A little hint of bridezilla is not the end of the world when it comes to this:

It’s taken months of careful planning, budgeting and saving to afford your dream day. Don’t let vendors, family or friends persuade you to do things their way if your heart is truly set on doing things differently. For example, if you and your partner have decided that you won’t be having children at your wedding, do not bend when your best friend gives you puppy dog eyes. She will have months to find a good baby sitter. Make rules and stick to them.

Plus ones:

When deciding on whether to invite ‘plus ones’ to your wedding, have a look at how many single friends you have. Will adding ‘plus ones’ send your guest list sky rocketing? If not, it may help you relax to know that the one friend who doesn’t know anyone else at her table, will have a partner to keep her feeling comfortable. On this same topic, if your friend has been with her partner for four years, you really should invite him – even if you are yet to meet. We say that if they have been dating for less than a year when the invites go out, you’re safe to leave them off the guest list. If he puts a ring on her finger before the wedding date, you can always add him in. There also doesn’t have to be a standard rule for all your guests. Some people can invite a plus one, while others don’t. Just make sure you make it very clear on the invitation whether your guest is expected to come alone or not.


Paying parents:

Some couples are really fortunate to have parents contributing financially to their wedding day. As wonderful as this is, it can bring its own complications when paying parents insist on having friends of theirs attend that you may have no interest in inviting. If parents are contributing to the cost of the wedding, the traditional rule is 50% of the guest list is for the couple and 25% per family on each side. This may seem like a lot to you and you may be cutting out special varsity friends so that your dad can have his rugby buddy, but the honest truth is that you accepted their money for your wedding, so you need to accept their requests. If your parents are understanding and you are able to discuss this with them, you may be able to reach a compromise. There is a lot of emotion around wedding planning, and we don’t recommend chatting over text or email – get them on the phone or Skype if you live far apart, or better yet sit face to face and have a sensible discussion about the guest list. Bring out your lists and let them see how the numbers look, this may help dad realise that his fly half from his 1967 varsity team doesn’t really have to be there after all.

Pack up and set sail:

If the thought of all this makes you want to throw up, you could always have a destination wedding. Only your closest closet closest friends and family members will agree to pay thousands to fly to a remote island to see you wed in style. You could be cutting your guest list from 180 to 40, without having to take responsibility for hurting anyone’s feelings. Guest list issues, avoided!


If things get REALLY bad:

 If meltdown mode lasts longer than a few weeks, and you simply see no way of getting around the guest list issues, pack yourselves a suitcase and get married in private. Don’t tell anyone you’re doing it until it’s done.  A true friend or family member who really loves you, will understand that their lack of invitation is not a reflection on your poor relationship, but rather your poor bank account, and shouldn’t take it personally.

We LOVE this little elopement shot by Louise Vorster.  


Have you had any great advice when planning your wedding? What would you suggest to a bride sitting down with her guest list for the first time, to ensure she has her dream day?

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  1. Pingback: Dear Derryn | Regret no kids - Hooray Weddings

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