Guest List Etiquette
Pleasing Your Parents
In addition to the budget, another stress-filled process is determining the final guest list. Appeasing your parents and future in-laws is virtually impossible, especially if they are contributing to the wedding. Both sets may give you the ultimate guilt-trip, “Well, we are giving you enough money to pay for our guests (which insinuates that they should be able to invite whomever they choose).” When determining parental contribution, you may want to ask each set of parents, “Is this money for something specific?” OR “Is this money expected to be used for your guests?” Sometimes parents have expectations, but they don’t mention those expectations until they are displeased with the choices you are making. The best thing to do – when discussing the potential contribution with each set of parents, is to be very clear with your “ideal” vision of the wedding so that they understand your expectations. Then, ask them to share their expectations. After understanding each point-of-view, there may be compromises that have to be made.
Parents do need to remember that a wedding isn’t necessarily a “socializing” event for everyone they know. And, just because your parents were invited to someone else’s child’s wedding, doesn’t mean that they must invite those couples to your wedding. Should you have to invite “strangers” to your wedding because they are friends with your parents or future in-laws? The answer to this question is “NO!” This is your wedding day, which means those people invited should be those who a part of your life. Again, you may have to compromise for that co-worker of your mother’s that she insists on inviting, but be prepared to go back and forth about the guest list. GOOD LUCK!
Spouses, Fiancés, and Live-Ins
When inviting a person to your wedding, you should include the spouse, fiancé, or live-in boyfriend/girlfriend of that guest.
Some brides and grooms may decide to invite a guest with all individuals above the age of 18, while others may choose to invite families as a whole and without additional guests (even if some of the children are over 18). This can be a “gray” area in the invitation process. SUGGESTION: try to stay consistent. If you are going to invite Cousin Joe with his girlfriend, then you probably shouldn’t leave out Cousin Jessica’s boyfriend just because you don’t know him well.
For individual friends that are adults, an additional guest should be invited (especially if this guest is traveling from out of town or if the person isn’t familiar with others invited to the wedding).
Be sure to invite the officiant of your wedding (with a guest if it is a Protestant religion where the person is married or if you’re using a judge or justice of the peace). Some choose to even invite the officiant’s immediate family as well, but this is optional.
Parents of Jr. Bridesmaids, Flower Girls, and Ring Bearers
The parents of any Jr. Bridesmaids, Flower girls, or Ring Bearers should be invited to the wedding. Remember, most likely these wedding party members are children, so they will need someone to watch them. It should not be the responsibility of the other wedding party members. Save yourself the babysitting job and invite the parents to take care of that child.
Adult Only Reception
A money-saving technique that many couples use today is choosing to have an adult only reception (this would not include the bride and groom’s brothers and sisters). Remember to stay consistent! If you choose not to invite children, do not make exceptions for some but not others. If you think this will be too complicated, then you may want to rethink inviting the children. TIP: Most venues/caterers have a children’s menu for at least half off the meal and no alcohol charge, so children are less expensive. Traditionally, you are NOT to write “Adult Only” on the reception card – those invited are to be listed on the address label of the invitation. But, some guests will not pay attention to those listed on the invitation; therefore, if you feel comfortable writing “Adult Only,” then it is an option.
Bridal Shower, Bachelorette, and Bachelor Party Guests
All those invited to the bridal shower, bachelorette or bachelor parties, should also be invited. If they’ve chosen to celebrate these events with you, it isn’t fair to cut them from the big day.
Although you do not have to send an invitation to these people, it is appropriate to include the photographer (plus assistants), videographer (plus assistants), DJ/Band, and wedding consultant in your final number. These vendors will most likely spend up anywhere from 5-12 hours with you for the day, so providing dinner is suggested. Some bride and grooms choose to provide a meal of lesser cost than what the guests are receiving (such as a deli-tray). Be sure to read the contract carefully because some vendors may require a meal be provided.