Top wedding guest list problems

Can't fit 150 people into a venue that holds 90? You're not alone - most brides are faced with one of these common dilemmas. Luckily, we have a few suggestions...

Are you stressing out because your mum wants to invite her five school friends to your wedding and your best friend has started dating a new bloke but you’re not sure how long it’s going to last? There are many problems and worries that crop up when it comes to creating your wedding guest list. Worry not, brides. There are plenty of solutions to accompany these dilemmas and we’ve got them all. Have a read to make sure your table-planning goes smoothly.


Too many plus-ones?

Why should you give plus-ones to single guests, or invite your best mate’s latest squeeze when you know he’ll be history in a month. Friends who expect to come to your celebration with their partner, even though you don’t know them yourself, may be surprised to be invited solo. Some people might even refuse to come!

GUILT-FREE SOLUTION: It’s fair enough not to invite plus-ones if you don’t know people well, but with one exception – if someone might not come because they don’t know anyone else, it might make the difference if they have someone to talk to. Save this for emergencies though – you don’t want other guests getting jealous!
Tell people long before the invitations go out that their other half won’t be included. Don’t over apologise – if you seem too embarrassed, friends may try to work on you to change your mind.

Do we invite children?

You might love kids, but when you add up the number your guests have, and it adds 31 people to your list (or more!), you may want to think about a no-kids rule. Or maybe, you just want everyone chatting and sipping champagne – not practising knee skids on the dancefloor! Many of your friends may assume their children are invited– especially if they’ve been building up the wedding as a big event.

GUILT-FREE SOLUTION: “Most people accept your decisions, providing you let them know early on,” says Shadi Ganjavian-Connor of Shooting Star Weddings. “State it clearly without explaining yourself too much, but in plenty of time for people to hire a babysitter.” If you think close family will be upset, maybe restrict children to nieces and nephews. And remember, says Siobhan Craven-Robins, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

“A politely worded note in your invitation that says, ‘We’ve decided to make our wedding an adult affair and do hope that the parents among you can take the opportunity to have a night off from the kiddies!’ is more likely to get a positive response than simply ‘No kids!’”


Friends of mum and dad?

Your parents may assume that because they went to the weddings of their friends’ children, the same friends should be invited to your big day. And if one or both sets of parents are contributing financially, they may think it’s their right to invite who they want.

GUILT-FREE SOLUTION: “While the final say is yours, in the interests of peace keeping, it’s best to involve your parents from the beginning,” says Siobhan. “A good rule to work to – in the spirit of compromise – is to allocate a third of your list to share between both sets of parents, leaving two thirds for you and the groom – then it’s up to them to allocate their share! Politely explain that while you understand they want to show you off to their friends, capacity and finances are making it impossible for everybody to invite everyone they want.

A work-free zone?

Between you, you’ve got 64 colleagues who could warrant an invite. That’s over half your guest list! And they’re already talking about what a brilliant time they’ll have…

GUILT-FREE SOLUTION: Rather than picking and choosing among work friends (and feeling embarrassed about inviting the boss), consider holding a separate party and tell everyone at work the wedding itself is a close friends and family-only affair. Or, have your wedding on a Friday – you can’t possibly invite your workmates on a weekday: there’ll be no-one left in the office!

Evening-only guests?

Maybe you can’t afford, or don’t want, everyone attending the whole day. If so, evening guests provide the perfect get-out clause, but you have to handle it carefully.

GUILT-FREE SOLUTION: No matter what your reason, blame it on logistics. “Simply explain that your venue limits the number of daytime guests you can have,” says Siobhan. “No-one can argue with that.” It also helps to make the evening invitation special in its own right – inviting guests to join you for ‘drinks, dancing and dessert,’ on a separate, less formal, oystercard-sized invitation.

Running off abroad

You want to get married in Vegas, which means Auntie Dot and her clan won’t be able to make it, nor will the girls from work.


GUILT-FREE SOLUTION:Thanks to cheap flights and all-inclusive wedding packages, you could take your parents and/or your close friends, or even set up a live webcam where they can all watch the ceremony at home. Having a wedding abroad doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with family and friends. “Plan a larger more informal celebration when you return which can include everyone,” says Siobhan. That way, you get two weddings!