Whom Do I Invite?

Urban Bloom Photography 

When we got married, we knew we wanted a small wedding. There wasn’t a conversation about having a large wedding – from the start, we knew we wanted less than 50 people in attendance. People asked us all the time, “weren’t people upset they weren’t invited?” or “How did you manage to have a small wedding?” And really, there were a few hurt feelings but a lot of understanding around our choices for our wedding.

Let’s be honest – no matter what size of wedding you want, there are tough choices that get asked when you’re determining who is coming to your wedding. From the smallest “let’s just do us!” to “Mom’s dentist’s wife,” you’ve got choices to make about who to invite.

Let’s tap some of the questions we thought about that might make your choices a bit more focused:

Who is non-negotiable?

Notice how I didn’t say “invite all family” or “invite close family” – and here’s why: not everyone has the same family relationship. You might have an incredibly close family and would never want to exclude any of them from a wedding celebration – what happens if your partner doesn’t have that same relationship with their family and their friends are more family than their blood relatives?

This was one of the things that we spent a lot of time thinking about – my husband has several brothers and sisters, and he is fairly close with many of them. The same for his aunts and uncles. As for me, I am close with my parents. The rest of my family? Not so much – but I have some incredibly dear friends who are my family – something my husband had less of.

When you look at our lists of non-negotiable people, mine was made up of friends while his was made of family – and this was okay to both of us! There wasn’t an “oh only family” or “why are you inviting so many friends” – it was really clear that we picked the people that HAD to be there. Respecting that your non-negotiables might be different – an absolute MUST.

Pick a number that you can flex with.

Do not set a hard and fast number! If you need to stay at say, an even number, you’re creating an issue before you even get beyond your non-negotiable list. Think about your general number, so you can fill people in outside of those non-negotiable people. Remember, flexing isn’t jumping from 50 to 100 people – flexing is not getting stuck on 50 people so you fight about two.

Decide where you want to set a limit.

This isn’t a number – this is answering the question if you’re going to invite your mom’s dentist or not. Are you sticking with people you and your partner know and like, or moving a bit farther out with parental asks or family requests? Knowing a basic limit is only going to help you stay on the other side. Does this mean you can’t make some exceptions? No – this means you have some boundaries to work inside of!

We decided only people we know – maybe one of us knows the person and the other doesn’t – but we weren’t inviting any parental or family friends, especially since we were paying for the wedding!

Choose to negotiate or not.

Do you want to have a negotiation about people or not? This is an important question to answer before adding more to your list. If someone doesn’t like someone – or if someone has to go – will you trade people for people? Setting this boundary in the beginning will save you some stress.

Make the list happen – and then be honest.

One of the things we were clear about was where our line was. After we sent invites and made choices about how many people and whom, we got some asks from people outside of our list. Even worse, the family told them to ask us when they knew our boundaries! If you know you’re going to hit the passive-aggressive nerve by not inviting people, you have two choices: 1) invite everyone who asks or 2) tell them why – not that you don’t love them! But that you had to make some hard choices to [insert reason – stay in budget, stay in a number].

And finally, above all, remember this is a celebration for you and your partner!