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A Guide to Determining Who to Invite to Wedding Ceremonies & Recpetions

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Unless you plan things very carefully, wedding guest numbers can easily get out of hand.  This article takes a closer look at guest numbers and provides advice on how to determine just who to invite to wedding receptions and ceremonies.


Who to Invite to Your Wedding
Making the final decision on who to invite to wedding ceremonies and receptions is never an one, and you'll probably find that your opinions will change on virtually a daily basis as to 'who's in' and 'who's out'. However, there are some steps you can follow which should help you determine who makes the final list...



Step 1 - Shortlist Candidates

Your first task should be to make a list of every person both you and your partner would like to invite to the wedding. At this stage you don't need to distinguish between guests who will be attending for part of the day and those who will be there from dusk till dawn, just make sure you throw every potential candidate into the mix. You should even include guests who the pair of you disagree on – the idea is to draw up a full list making sure no-one has been forgotten and later on we can begin whittling the numbers down.



Step 2 - Seek the Opinion of Others

Next, and this needs to be approached with caution, you should show the list to key members of the wedding party, in particular both sets of parents.


The idea with this task is to ensure that key people have not been accidentally omitted - fresh sets of eyes will often quickly spot something obvious that you may well otherwise have overlooked. The danger here (and we guess you’ve spotted it) is that your list will not be checked, it will be critiqued.


You will certainly give people the ammunition they need to question why certain people have been missed off, but at least you get the opportunity to say that it is not a definitive list and that there is some scope for change. If those who view the list suggest that certain new names are added, make sure that they give a reason for doing so - knowing these reasons up front should help to make future decisions easier.



Step 3 - Establish Costs

Thirdly, and armed with a list longer than the eye can see, your next task is establish accurate costs per head. In order to obtain this figure you literally need to factor in any cost that will rise as the numbers do – food and drink are obvious ones, but also consider stationery and favours, and potentially decorations and cake cost increases. Devise separate costs for adults, children and infants and distinguish between costs for full day guests and part day guests.



Step 4 - Group the Candidates

Your fourth task is to group the guests up with other guests who must all have the same invite status applied to them. People often incorrectly assume that (for example) because one cousin is invited then all the cousins must be invited, but this is not always the case. If one cousin lives next door and you see them everyday, then this is an entirely different situation to a cousin who emigrated to Australia 10 years ago who you haven't spoken to since. Potential guests can be grouped based on a multitude of reasons, not just because they share the same relationship to you.


A grouping system can have any number of groups, and a typical example is as follows:

    • Group 1: Wedding Party
    • Group 2: Bride’s Grandparents, Groom’s Grandparents on Father’s side, Groom’s Uncle John and Auntie Mary.
    • Group 3: Groom’s Grandparent’s on Mother’s side, Bride’s Aunties & Uncles x 4, Groom’s Auntie’s & Uncles x 2.
    • Group 4: Bride’s Work colleagues from office, Groom’s Work Colleagues (all), Bride’s Cousins (x 3 + partners).
    • Group 5: Bride’s Work Colleagues (remainder), Groom’s Cousin Tom + Wife.
    • Group 6: Neighbours on both sides + Groom's Cousins from New Zealand.

However you decide to group your guests, one final point to remember is that the groups don't need to be evenly split between friends/relatives of the Bride, and friends/relatives of the Groom. It is quite acceptable to end up with many more guests on one side than the other, and it is a very common scenario at weddings these days.



Step 5 - Alloacate Costs

Your fifth task is to allocate two costs to each group – a full day cost, and an evening only cost. Once these costs have been allocated it is then easier to determine the ‘real cost’ of inviting each group of guests.



Step 6 - Make Your Decision

Your final task is to put the pieces of the jigsaw together – the following questions may help to point you in the right direction:

  • Who do you really want to attend and can you afford to invite them?
  • If you find a few extra pounds, can you afford to invite a whole new group of guests?
  • Rather than inviting one group to the full day and another not at all, instead could you invite both to the evening only?
  • Could not inviting children allow you to invite a whole new group?
  • If you omitted a couple of guests that your parents have said they would like to attend, could this free up some cash to invite a group of guests that you want there?
  • Can you shuffle to groups around slightly to allow you to get more people attending?
  • Will spending a few extra pounds prevent potential arguments or disagreements with parents, or worse still, future in-laws!

There is no right and wrong answer when it comes to choosing who to invite to the wedding. The key thing to never lose sight of is that it is the Bride and Groom who should make the final decision, and not their parents.



Related: There are hundreds of wedding articles on the site, each filled with superb ideas, advice and inspiration. Check out the links in the left hand column to read more. Alternatively, to search for a local wedding venue, product or service provider, try our Wedding Directory. With over 13,000 companies already listed, you're sure to find what you're looking for.


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