(Closed) HELP! I need advice on my guest list dilemma.

posted 4 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
451 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Do you want the 130 people there? If so, you can figure out a way to host everyone and stay within your budget. Make a list of the people who you absolutely, positively must invite to your wedding – then figure out where and how to have it, based on that number.

If you and your fiance do this and there are only 60 people on the list, then go ahead and have your small wedding at your “dream venue.” But I don’t think you should choose a venue over having your loved ones there. If it forces you not to invite people you would otherwise want to be there, it’s not really your dream venue, is it? 

Post # 3
510 posts
Busy bee

If it’s a small ceremony, it’s a small ceremony. Family ought to understand. Where I could see you encountering the most issues is inviting only one child out of what seems like many, regardless of whether or not she’s in the bridal party. That opens the window to parents wanting their children there because clearly it is not an ‘adults only’ wedding.

Post # 4
1696 posts
Bumble bee

Missknicole:  First of all, let us pack up all mention of the $$ you will save or the $$$ that will come out of your pocket: no-one, no matter how many $ they have, can invite everyone; and everyone knows that the $$$ available are finite, so we might as well follow the general etiquette rule that polite people don’t discuss money in social situations.

Having settled that, you can simply proceed by inviting the seventy guests that you can accomodate, and NOT making explanations to the ones you cannot invite. They really are not sitting on the edge of their seats wondering if they will be the lucky ones: your wedding is only one of many concerns on their mind, chief of which is whether Arrow will be cancelled at the end of the season, and they already know that they are not your parents or your siblings and fall somewhere further down the list. What you can do, is charm them by sending a hand-written note immediately after your wedding, letting them know that you got married and hope to have the chance to introduce your new husband to them next time they are in town / when you see them at the big family Christmas Dinner / at the highschool reunion in three years / when you have them over for dinner next month in your new marital home. Everybody loves receiving snail-mail that is not a bill or a summons, and they love to know that their family are thinking fondly of them — even when the fond thoughts are not accompanied by the promise of a sit-down dinner with an open bar.

Which leads to the question of how you compile The List in the first place. A priority in creating a new marital household, should be merging your contact lists into a single Household Contact List. A wife cannot rely on her mother to sign “& Nicole” on the bottom of the family Christmas cards any more: she needs to decide for herself whether she is going to do Christmas cards, and needs the names and addresses at hand in case she decides in favour. So sit down with your mom, and copy all her addresses, names, titles, phone-numbers, birthdates, and you-name-it; into your own visiting-book or icloud database. Invite her over for coffee or dinner to do it; spread it over two or three dates if necessary. Sit down with your fiance’s mom and get her list, too. Get the details for your own friends and your fiance’s friends that you have never bothered to write down, and get them all into one place. Then, working together with your fiance, sort all the combined contacts from nearest and dearest, to most distant (remembering to keep spouses, de-facto spouses, and fiances together.) Count seventy places down from the top of the list, and draw a line there. Everyone above the line gets an invitation; everyone below the line gets a note — even if it’s just five words in a Christmas card and you don’t get around to sending cards until 2015.

Post # 5
10294 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

merpitymerp:  +1.  

Though I am not unsympathetic to the challenge, the etiquette answer is always that if you are close enough to people that they should be invited, then you pick the place and plan the budget based on the guest list rather than the other way around.  

Post # 6
680 posts
Busy bee

If there’s any possibility of inter-family strife or hurt feelings that could last well beyond the wedding day, then I urge you to reconsider your venue. If you’ve to 130 nearest and dearest that you feel need to be invited, then find a place to fit them. 

Post # 7
1589 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

Well our invite list, after the exlusions, was about 180. It was adults only besides flower girls. Adults only weddings are actually fairly common in this area so only an out of town family member really kind of pushed it, but they weren’t even dramatic, just asked and seemed kind of upset when I said no. But they came anyway. Another change I had to make was only allowing people in relationships to bring guests, not single people unless they were VIPs. No one gave me an issue with that. I think my mom was annoyed that I didn’t invite certain people, but my mom isn’t a social person, and never invites people over or has parties, so I said I haven’t seen these people and it’s not like you invite us all to parties and events. 

I was always told to make a list before picking a venue, so I always strongly suggest that to people. You have to decide what is more important, your dream venue or letting all of these people down. It sounds like it would make a significant difference in the kind of wedding you have if you go with your dream venue. If you’re going for that, you’re just going to have to warn people that you’re having a small intimate affair. 

I’ll be honest, for us that wasn’t really an option. Truth be told I wanted to elope. But I told Darling Husband, if we don’t elope we have to have a big wedding. I have a big family and, thankfully, a lot of friends and I’m very close to those in my office, so it would have to be a big one. 

Surprisingly, only 130 people came. But we were happy with that. 

Post # 8
547 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

I think if you’re really worried about it and you want to include the nearest and dearest 130, then you should pick a venue that can accomidate 130. I’m sure lots of people can find a “dream” venue that is too small, but the way I see it it’s not really the “dream venue” if you can’t invite all the most important people.

If you’re for sure only wanting to invite 60, then do it, it’s your wedding. But just realize you’re going to have to make a lot of tough calls.

Post # 9
2837 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

Missknicole:  I think the easiest way to avoid upsets in these situations– is to keep it within “circles”– so for example, if I was in your situation, and was more interested in keeping in small versus figuring how to include everyone, I would have invited- my parents, immediate aunts and uncles and cousins (assuming you are close to them, I am)– and grandparents– and stopped there.  

If I was including my WHOLE family– that would have gotten a lot larger.  What you want to avoid, IMO– especially if you’re close to all of them– is inviting one great aunt, and not another, etc……

Does that make sense.  If you’re NOT close with all of them, then I suppose that means you should get to pick and choose and not hurt feelings.


And if you’re just seriously worried about offending people, then I’d find another venue– or figure out how you CAN afford to have everyone.  

I guess the way I see it– there is no way to justify your smaller venue choice/saving $ if you’re SERIOUSLY concerned about offending people– because there are almost always ways to cut costs down and have a bigger guest list– even if it means giving something up that you love.


I wanted to have a 35 person wedding– but realized it just wasn’t going to fly– and ended up switching things around and have 100 people LOL– but it’s what we decided was best to do.

Post # 10
277 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

I’m dealing with the exact same thing & it has caused so much drama between my mom & I because she can’t understand why I can’t invite 220 people! Money isn’t really the issue but like you the venue that I love can only accommodate 170 & Im not that close to family that she’s insisting I invite.    I’ve finally realized I have to do what makes me & my Fiance happy. If a 60 person guest count is what you truly want, go for it.

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by  .
Post # 14
3267 posts
Sugar bee

From an etiquette perspective, you are free to invite whomever you choose.  Regardless of whether or not someone of the same “level” was invited.  You can invite people based on level of closeness, which is alwasy in good taste.

If you want a small wedding, then have a small wedding.  But if you want the 130 closest to you in attendance then do that. 

As for controlling reactions, well you can’t.  You can only control you. People can feel slighted or upset for any number of ridiculous reasons.

As for me, I invited some aunts, but not others.  I invited my dad’s brother and wife and their grown kids, and my dad’s deceased brother’s wife, but not their kids.  I invited my mom’s brother and wife and kids, but not my mom’s deceased brothers wife or kids.  I invited my family friends with their kids, and my other family friends without their kids.  I invited my friends breastfeeding 3 week old baby, but not her older child.  No other kids were inattendance.  I didn’t get ANY flack.  None.  Because 1. my family is kind and considerate and 2. they understand where they fall on the list.  There was no need for my aunt to follow up as to why her kids weren’t invited.  She knows it’s because we haven’t seen each other in 10 years and have never spoken more then 50 words to them.  Why would I invite them?

That’s what my response would have been had anyone have been as rude as to question my inviting practices. 

Worst case scenario they would decline the invitation because x other guest wasn’t invited.  I’d be ok with that.  It was a risk I was willing to take.



Post # 15
1589 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

Missknicole:  In this case, I strongly encourage you to have the small, intimate wedding you desire. You may regret it if you don’t. As long as you are able to invite the people you and Fiance care to have. The rest will get over it. 

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