How to Decide Who to Invite to Your Wedding [+ FREE Guest List Flowchart ]

Let’s be real, deciding who to invite to your wedding can be a challenging and emotional task.

From distant relatives to old-school friends, the guest list can quickly spiral out of control if not managed carefully.

Balancing the desire to share your joy with as many loved ones as possible with the practical constraints of budget, venue size, and personal preferences can lead to tough decisions and delicate conversations.

How To Decide Who to Invite to Your Wedding

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of determining who to invite to your wedding, ensuring that your special day is surrounded by the people who matter most.

In the meantime be sure to grab your Free Wedding Planning Checklist HERE! Compliments of Kristy.

Understand the Importance of Your Guest List

First and foremost it’s important to realize the importance of your wedding guest list. The guest list is the backbone of your wedding celebration, shaping not only the atmosphere of the event but your budget as well. 

That’s right, your guest list will have the largest impact on your budget over anything else! So it’s important to choose wisely.

But before diving into the specifics, take a moment to reflect on the significance of your wedding day. Consider what you envision for the atmosphere and who you want to share those precious moments with.

Pro Tip: We recommend drafting your guest list before you book your venue to give you an idea of how many people you might invite.

Assess Your Budget and Venue Capacity

As stated above, your guest list and budget are intimately connected. So, one of the most practical considerations when determining who to invite is your budget and venue capacity. 

Begin by establishing a realistic budget for your wedding and identifying the maximum number of guests your venue can accommodate comfortably and that you can afford.

This will serve as a practical framework for your guest list, allowing you to prioritize and make informed decisions based on financial constraints and space limitations.

Need help building your wedding budget? Check out our blog post on “How to Build a Wedding Budget” for more tips!

Create Categories and Prioritize Relationships

To streamline the process of creating your guest list, consider categorizing guests into tiers. 

Start with immediate family and closest friends, followed by extended family, relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances.

Be sure to prioritize those who have played a significant role in your life and who you genuinely want to share this milestone with.

Remember that your wedding day is about celebrating love and connection, so focus on inviting those who have positively impacted your journey. 

Pro Tip: See how many people are on your top-tier list. Make sure to find a venue that can accommodate at least that many people. From there, you can let your favorite venue dictate your guest count rather than the other way around.

How to Create Wedding Guest Categories:

1. Brain Dump

Write down everyone and anyone that you think you’d want at your wedding. It will help to get them all out on paper or a spreadsheet before making cuts. 

2. Identify Your Top-Tier Guests

Who are your non-negotiables? Your “Top-Tier Guests,” if you will. These are the guests who, if they RSVP’d “No,” you would be deeply offended. Consider these your VIPs and separate them onto another list or highlight them on the list in front of you. 

3. Highlight Your Tier-Two Guests

After separating or highlighting your Top-Tier guest list, consider others you’d love to see at your wedding. The people who you’d be genuinely disappointed if they couldn’t make it. Think of extended family, colleagues, or other friends. 

4. Make Your Cuts

Anyone left over from these two categories will need to be determined by budget and venue capacity. If you’re struggling with how to make those final cuts, be sure to utilize our Who to Invite to Your Wedding Flowchart to help guide you!

Preview Image of a Who to invite to your wedding flowchart free download

Address Sensitive Situations

Cutting down a guest list often means making hard decisions. But it’s not about being ruthless; it’s about creating the atmosphere you want while adhering to your budget. 

Navigating sensitive situations, such as deciding who NOT to invite to your wedding, requires care and tact. 

Whether it’s estranged family members, ex-partners, or coworkers you’re not particularly close to, approach these decisions with empathy and understanding, but also confidence!

In the end, we always advise that you prioritize your comfort and happiness on your wedding day, and if that means scratching off certain guests – so be it!

At Weddings by Kristy, we’re here to support you and YOUR dream wedding, not the people or traditions you feel obligated to include.

Set Boundaries and Manage Expectations

As you compile your guest list, it’s essential to set boundaries and manage expectations, especially when dealing with complex family dynamics or limited venue capacity. 

Be prepared for potential challenges and discussions that may arise, and communicate openly with your partner about your priorities and concerns. 

If your parents are paying for part or all of the wedding, you could run into some sticky situations here.  

You may need to compromise on inviting a couple of relatives or family friends you didn’t initially envision. 

While it’s natural to want to please everyone, remember that your wedding day is ultimately about what YOU want, not others.

Consider Spacing Out Invites

Consider spacing out your invitations. Your initial guest list may not be set in stone. 

Wedding etiquette advises sending out invitations at least eight weeks before your wedding day (ten weeks if it’s a destination wedding), and Save the Dates about 6-8 months in advance. 

We recommend only sending Save the Dates to those you are 100% sure you want to invite initially. 

As you receive RSVPs, you may have a few regrets. The good news is you now have the opportunity to invite those you originally wanted to include but couldn’t!

Look back at your original guest list and work with your partner to fill these spots. Just make sure to send out these extra invites promptly, as nobody wants to feel like an afterthought.

Ways to Reduce Your Wedding Guest List:

We know how hard it can be to reduce your wedding guest list, so we’ve included some additional strategies for trimming it down below:

1. Limit Plus-Ones

Restrict plus-ones to only married or engaged couples, or limit them to those in long-term relationships.

2. Exclude Children

Having an adults-only wedding can easily cut down on the number of guests and provide for a more mature atmosphere 

3. Close Friends and Family Only

Consider having a small, intimate ceremony with just immediate family members and close friends present.

4. No Obligatory Invites

Avoid feeling obligated to invite people out of a sense of duty or guilt. Your wedding day should be about celebrating with those closest to you.

5. Post-Wedding Celebration

If you have a large circle of friends and family you’d like to celebrate with, consider hosting a post-wedding party or reception where you can include more guests without the pressure of the ceremony itself.

Like simple tips and resources like these? Consider our Signature Support Package, designed for couples who feel confident in their planning abilities but appreciate some expert guidance.


Deciding who to invite to your wedding is a significant undertaking, requiring careful consideration and thoughtful planning. 

By understanding the importance of your guest list, assessing your budget and venue capacity, prioritizing relationships, and setting boundaries, you can flow through this process with confidence and grace. 

Remember that your wedding day is a celebration of love and unity, surrounded by the people who matter most to you. 

So, trust your instincts, communicate openly with your partner, and enjoy every moment of this unforgettable journey!

Still not sure how to handle your guest list – or have an overbearing family member who just doesn’t understand? We get it – Connect with us today for a free consultation to get things from uncertain to under control.

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Kristy Silva, Wedding Planner

Meet Kristy

Hey there! I grew up in the dry heat of Phoenix, AZ but now live in my favorite swamp, Washington D.C. My dream job? Owning a cat cafe. Just kidding (kind of). I’ve wanted to be a wedding planner for as long as I can remember. But not just any planner. The cis-heteronormativity of the wedding industry kind of gives me the ‘ick,’ so I’ve built a team to help all couples celebrate their love in a way that feels good to them. Not how society says ‘this is what a wedding should look like.

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