Wedding Guest List Etiquette + FAQs

wedding guest list etiquette + faqs

Let’s be honest. Creating your wedding guest list is likely to come hand in hand with some serious stress!

Not only do you have to consider budget and venue restrictions, but what about those awkward questions like – should you invite your co-workers? Do parents have a say? Is it okay to plan an adults-only reception?

Guest list politics can definitely be confusing, so we’re here to answer some of the most common questions when it comes to guest list etiquette. Keep reading for our take on those tricky guest list FAQs!

Photo by Michael and Carina Photography

Common Wedding Guest List Etiquette FAQs

I was invited to somebody’s wedding – does that mean I have to invite them to mine?

Eek, this one can be awkward! If the wedding was a few years ago and you’re genuinely not close to the couple anymore, we don’t think it’s necessary to return the favour simply out of obligation.

However, if the wedding was within the last 12-18 months (or even trickier… still to come!), a return invitation would be the courteous thing to do.

Should I invite my colleagues to my wedding?

Inviting colleagues (from both you and your partner’s side) can really blow the guest list out. But, if you do have close friends that also happen to be co-workers, of course they should receive an invite!

In this case, make sure you handle the invitation process delicately. Don’t hand them out at work, or chat about wedding plans in front of the entire team – keep it courteous and low-key. Another option could be extending an invitation to your colleagues for your ceremony only, and explaining that your reception is limited to just close family and friends due to budget or venue restrictions.

Photo by Corbin Gurkin

What if I don’t want to invite kids?

Kids, no kids, family-only… it’s totally your call (although you should definitely make an exception for nursing mothers). Adults-only receptions have become more common over the years, and most parents will probably appreciate having a night off!

However, make sure you communicate this clearly from the very beginning to avoid any awkwardness on the day (like a group of little ones turning up without any entertainment, snacks or seating prepared!). A polite note on your wedding website is usually the best way to prep parents. See our wording examples and tips for an adults-only wedding here!

Photo by Sarah Nichole Photography

Do I need to offer a plus one for single guests?

Look, we don’t all have the resources to extend a plus-one to every single guest, and sometimes resources simply won’t allow for it. But there are a couple of things you might want to consider before implementing a blanket ban.

If the invitee is single, but close friends with many of your guests, we’d say a plus one isn’t a requirement. But, for any solo guests without a connection to your friends or family, a plus one would be a kind gesture to help them feel more comfortable.

We’d also say that any guests who are in a serious relationship should receive a plus one, regardless of if you’ve met their partner.

Photo by Michael and Carina Photography

Do our parents get a say in our guest list?

The main consideration here is – are they contributing to the wedding financially? If so, it’s only fair to offer them some input. Sit down with your parents and ask them what their expectations are, and if they have any additional guests they wish to invite. Tip: initiate this conversation before anything is booked, to ensure everyone is on the same page!

Is it okay to create a backup list and send a second round of invitations?

It might feel awkward, but creating a separate A and B-list is actually very common. Essentially, your A-list (non-negotiable guests) receive the first round of invitations, with your B-list (guests you’d love to include if space allows) receiving the second round, pending RSVPs.

To prevent any feelings getting hurt, prepare to send your A and B-list invitations well in advance. Let’s be honest, a last-minute text message the week before the wedding is going to be a tad obvious!

Photo by Katie Parra Photography

What do I do if guests don’t respond to their invitation?

Omg – is there anything more frustrating than late RSVPs! Although this can be seriously stressful as you try to finalise seating charts, floor plans and catering, try not to take it personally. At the end of the day, people can be forgetful, or might even assume you know they’ll be there.

As a busy bride, the last thing you want is added stress or tasks on your to-do list. We recommend opting for an automated RSVP tracker to gently follow up any late invitees on your behalf, without you lifting a finger.

There’s no doubt creating your wedding guest list can be stressful, which is why we’ve created a printable guest list worksheet to help you streamline the process! You can also check out our ultimate guest list guide for more tips, tricks and timelines to get you started.