How To Create The Perfect Guest List For Your Wedding

If sorting out the guest list for your wedding is making you crazy, take heart! You’re not alone. Lots of couples struggle with whom to invite (easy), and whom not to invite (hard). 

Between family pressure, thinking about who you “have to” invite, and figuring out who you really want at your wedding, it can be hard to know what to do. But it doesn’t have to be that way! 

Your guests are coming to participate in—not just watch—the union of two people, and to celebrate that union with you. Choose your guests because you want them to be involved in your marriage, to bring you strength, growth, and happiness. 

My Favorite Piece of Advice
My favorite and, I think, the most useful piece of advice about your guest list comes from Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners, who says: “Invite the people you love and who love you.” Really, who else do you want at your wedding? You want to look at every face, every single person, and think, “I’m glad you’re here!”. What a wonderful piece of guidance on choosing guests for your wedding! 

So, here are four common categories of wedding guests and how to handle each one, plus a bonus, confidence-building affirmation step:

#1 Relatives
Those ‘weddings and funerals’ relatives with whom you really don’t have a relationship? The cousins and aunts and uncles who you rarely see and don’t really know? Let them go. They don’t want to come to your wedding. They don’t want to get dressed up, they don’t want to travel, and they don’t want you at their wedding, either! Great! Break the cycle of pain and let them off the hook. 

#2 Your Parents’ Friends and Colleagues
Your parents may want to show you off to their friends and colleagues. That’s a wonderful thing, to be sure. Some parents never get to entertain, and they might see your wedding as a great opportunity to do that. If you happen to know and love their friends and colleagues, then go for it. If not, consider suggesting that your parents throw a separate, dedicated party a few months after your wedding. At that party you can give your best attention to these good people, all of whom are important in your parents’ lives—but not yours.

#3. Children
You may have the kind of extended family for whom having the children around all the time is part and parcel of the family culture. If that’s your desire as well, then by all means, invite the whole clan! On the other hand, many couples are best served by limiting the guest list to adults (with the exception of their own children or their chosen flower children or ringbearers).

#4 Plus Ones
All of the etiquette writers agree that inviting plus-ones is never the right thing to do. Why give someone else the ability to invite people to your wedding? Their plus-one knows nobody at your wedding except for the person who brought them. So your guest becomes their date instead of your guest, and you lose them both. Better to send them $100 and tell them to go out on a date!

#5. It’s Your Decision
Here’s the bottom line: You have complete control of your guest list! It’s your wedding, and your decision. Who do you want to be present at the start of your marital journey? Think of the people in your life who care for you and support you, and with whom you share your joys and sorrows. Those are the people you want to invite to your wedding!

The experience of your wedding and the memories built there will affirm your decisions. The people you love and who love you — in other words, the people you’ve chosen to be present at your wedding — will see and appreciate that you’ve created the wedding that’s perfect for you. 


Author David Egan believes that everyone should have a wedding that is exactly perfect them. A wedding where it all feels just right—because it is. He coaches engaged couples to help them create a wedding experience that deeply reflects who they are as individuals and as a couple. You can reach David and find out more on and


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