The Invitation Conundrum

One of the biggest stress tests of planning a wedding is deciding the guest list. Unless you’re planning to elope and avoid everyone entirely, at some point every couple will have to sit down and thrash out that short list – or is it a long list?

You’re unlikely to have to consider inviting ex or current presidents, like Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. However, I can imagine that having to choose between Michelle and Barak Obama and Donald Trump is probably easier than having to decide whether Cousin Tracey should be sat next to her sister-in-law, or whether it’s worth considering drawing up a behaviour contract to try and avoid Uncle Jerry lamping Uncle Terry over the canapes.
So, who should you invite? Welcome to the minefield.

Guest List Arguments

The Relatives

Always a contentious issue, your mum expects you to invite six generations back and forwards and half of them you haven’t spoken to since you were in ankle socks. You get the whole ‘family first’ malarkey, but in all seriousness, why should you have people there that are not a significant part of your life. However, are you likely to start World War 3 with your parents if some of them aren’t there? It may well depend on who is paying for the wedding, or if there are contributions from elsewhere, but you may have to compromise. But remember, it’s your day and try and stand firm. If it’s someone you don’t actually like or know, and it will prevent someone who you do want to be there from attending, put your foot down and say no!

Guest List Flow Chart

The Extras

Sadly, unless you are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the expense will have to be a consideration. Most of your friends will understand if they are invited for a drink after the wedding breakfast. We all know how much it costs to feed the five thousand a three-course meal – it’s not loaves and fishes after all. The tiered approach is the way forward here – as many as you can manage for the meal and then a larger group for the evening do. At the end of the day, your wedding is a celebration which you want to share with all the people you care about it. If you have good friends, they won’t mind whether they get fed or not, they’ll be there to wish you well in whichever capacity you can manage.

The Extras

The Vetos

The other half loves them…you hate them…or vice versa. Maybe it’s that friend of his who always pushes him a bit too far on a night out and you have to clear up the mess, or perhaps you have an ex who is still a good friend, but your partner just can’t hack it. As with all these groups, it’ll be an intense session of trading. Be honest, explain why you want yours there and listening with an open mind when the shoe is on the other foot.

Making a Scene

The Scene-Makers

Often these go hand in hand with the group above. Your mate who gets a bit overemotional at weddings and is more than likely to steal the microphone from the band and belt out a tear-stained version of “My Heart Will Go On”. Then there’s his mate who’s down to be an usher who has a rep for getting blind drunk before passing out in the middle of the dance floor. All these fill the average couple with a sense of foreboding and can cause a fair amount of arguments if either side tries to veto the guest in question. Use the tools you have – if the person in question is a close friend, you may be in a position to talk to them about it – however, if that’s likely to cause a rift, rope in a trustworthy friend or two to be in charge of damage limitation.


Is there any way of avoiding this invitation conundrum? If you’re planning to get married, then this is one of those must-do jobs. At the end of the day, most of your friends will have been through the exact same thing and so will understand the difficulties you’re facing. Harry and Meghan didn’t invite me to their wedding…I know that they can’t get it right all the time…but I’ll still raise a glass to them on the day.