How to Decide Who Makes the Wedding Guest List 

Trust me; it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Unless you come from a large family, then it is…a little

It goes without saying that establishing a guest list is a full-time job, so the following information will help ease the decision making so you don’t lose your mind figuring it out. Now, you may think writing a bunch of names on a list is easy enough, but oh gee, here comes your partner’s second cousin wanting to invite his best friend’s cousin’s sister…


Obviously, you know better than to invite complete strangers to your wedding. At least, I hope you do, because as we know, it’s packed enough without the extras. You don’t want to cause any tension between you and other family members, but you also have a hundred other things in mind, especially staying within your budget. It’s a doozy, but here a few helpful tips to get you started. 

Some Family Counts 

Your immediate family? Add them. Your partner’s immediate family? Of course. Extended family? This one’s a little difficult to pin down, as wedding etiquette says if you invite a few, you might as well ask all. 


So here’s what you do. Once you write down all your immediate family, think of your closest extended family. Are you speaking to any of them? Do you see them often? Do you both send each other memes and bathroom selfies? If so, then add them with no hesitation. If you or your partner start writing names of people you don’t even recall or haven’t seen in years, you’ve gone too far and need to take a break. The pressure is getting to your head.

Some Family Does Not

Once again, we are bringing up prominent families because while it’s great to come from one, we never really know any of them. Many of them have probably gotten married without your acknowledgement, so that wave of guilt you may feel not sending them an invite can go straight to hell. 


Your second or third cousin doesn’t need a seat at your wedding. If anything, they’ll feel confused about why you invited them if you haven’t spoken to them in years. You are under no obligation to invite them. 

I repeat: you are under no obligation to invite them. If you’re desperate to see them, plan a family reunion soon. 

Cut Out Unruly Friends or Family (You Know the Ones) 

Raise your hand if you have that one friend who gets blackout drunk, gets rowdy, dances on tables, develops an Irish accent, and confesses their love for you as you’re cleaning their vomit off your clothes. Cool, now raise your hand if you are that friend. Congrats, you’re paying for this party so if you want to get so crazy that you forget it’s even your wedding, I say go for it! 


Don’t get too crazy, or people might start thinking you’re sabotaging your wedding on purpose, and something might be wrong…

If you have friends or family who love to make a scene (or two) and know they won’t comply if you ask them to behave, then cut them off. That is terrible energy, and this is your big day. If this person is important to you, you can sit down with them and politely speak to them about their behavior. If alcohol is the trigger, lessen their consumption so you won’t regret inviting them. 

Your Co-Worker Is Not Your Friend (Neither Are Your Neighbors) 

Not much to be said here. 

You share an office, that’s great. It doesn’t mean you have to buy them dinner and a spot at your wedding. While your neighbors may be the “nicest people” you’ve ever met, you don’t have to go as far as inviting them to your wedding. This celebration is for your closest family and friends, not for people who bake you gingerbread cookies on Christmas. 

Children Don’t Need to Be Present (With One Exception)

They are your kids. That’s the exception. 


A few wedding couples may be compliant with having children at their wedding, but if you’re watching your budget, enforce the no kids’ rule. If a parent takes one, they take all. If you have foreign relatives, you understand what all means, don’t you? It means you can’t provide dinner for your guests. in fact, you can’t afford the wedding. 

Be ruthless on this day; you deserve it. 

Follow the “Plus One” Rule 

If a guest is allowed a plus one, they need to invite someone really, really, really close to them (fiancee, parent, relative). This is not a party where they can ask their buddy Tom who he met playing Call of Duty


You are not (will not) spare a seat on your wedding day for someone you’ve never seen in your life. Many people you craved to invite could not be added to the guest list simply because there was no space, and this guy shows up with a stranger? I don’t think so

Enforce the plus one rule. Make it clear to your guests about the limited space you have and how you’re giving them a chance to invite someone dear. 

It’s never easy telling someone they’re not invited to the wedding, but Brides has some great advice on how to break the news to them in the most loving and understanding way. 


By HitchSwitch

About US

HitchSwitch was born of an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to make life easier. HitchSwitch founder Jake Wolff was in his first year at Fordham Law School, where he toyed with the idea of starting a business and hoped to experience his “Eureka!” moment.
Read More

Get in touch

2001 Route 46
Suite 301
Parsippany, NJ 07054
(844) 639-6263