Guest list etiquette & how we handled it! | uk wedding blog


Good evening everyone and happy Spring! It’s finally feeling like we might have turned a corner! Today is our 6 month count down until the wedding. Eeeeeeeek! It’s all starting to feel very real now! We have had quite a lazy weekend, and today we had some family over for a roast lunch which inevitably lead to us talking about the wedding. Which in turn lead me to write this post… How to please everyone!

As I have mentioned before, James and I are funding our wedding ourselves, with a little bit of much appreciated help here and there from our immediate families. This has left us with a pretty good attitude over all to our wedding: “We’re paying, it’s our day and you’ll enjoy whatever we put on for you!”. Now there may be lots of you who disagree with our rather bullish attitude towards our wedding but I think you may understand why when I elaborate a little further.

The initial reaction to our engagement was overwhelming. As of course one would expect. We were living in a moment of pure bliss: super excited, overwhelmed with everyones well wishes and thrilled to be entering into one of the most important decisions of our lives together. Don’t get me wrong – we still feel very much like this 17 months later, however we weren’t prepared for some of the things that would be thrown our way.

Emotions run high when an engagement is announced. Initially excitement from family and guests to be, then trickles in the “polite requests” and “concerns” that others may have for your day and their enjoyment of it.

Once the initial hysteria calmed down, we started to wise up to the world of wedding etiquette. Who to invite, who not to invite, how to seat guests, who to keep away from who…the list is infinite and soon enough your dreaming about uncle so and so being seated near auntie so and so, who will cause problems because of a feud with cousin blah blah. Bloody hell. What on earth to do.

Now, the offender in this instance shall remain unnamed but let’s just say they are a guest who will know enough people on the day to have a fabulous time. Anyway, said offender actually asked if they could invite “some friends” as they were worried they would’t know enough people. I’m sorry…WHAT!? NO! Blind rage ensued (aka I bit my tongue very hard and had a mega rant about it later!)

Then comes the single attendees and their not so subtle plus one requests…bloody nora. It goes on and on. My mum even asking if we would invite her distant cousin’s children…whom I’ve never met. You can guess what that request was met with.

The requests are ongoing and quite often not in the slightest bit subtle. We had to do something as I was rapidly losing my mind and patience.

We wrote a list. A long list. Then a slightly shorter list and then finally a condensed and final list. This was our guest list and here’s how we did it:

– Family. (Parents, Siblings etc)

– Extended family. (Aunties, Uncles, Cousins and anyone considered to be a close family relative)

– Best friends (this included bridesmaids, best mates and ushers. Wives/Husbands/significant others also added)

– Mates. (Wives/Husbands/significant others also added)

– Others – Our amazing neighbours, work friends, friends parents, those we couldn’t imagine not being there.

We took no prisoners and really made sure we were as fair as possible, allowing friends plus ones if they wouldn’t know many people and letting friends that had no plus ones know that we were on a tight budget and if they happened to meet the love of their life (aka not  a tinder date from last week) we would of course try to accommodate them.

To be totally honest our straight forward approach has worked well. There’s no ambiguity and we’ve quashed the unreasonable requests by politely letting everyone know that our day is only for the people we love and care the most for. We’ve also been the ultimate scrooges and have banned and kids from our wedding (I’m sure this will be met with some gasps of disapproval), but as it stands we are 26 and have very few friends with kids – we took the decision to let our friends with kids use our wedding as an excuse to have a night off and for our friends without kids to not have to worry about stepping on someones toddler after a few too many (James did this at a wedding. I can tell you there were lots of tears and some very cross parents!)

We love our guest list. There isn’t a single person on it that we have reservations about. We haven’t missed anyone out that would cause upset and we’ve been completely honest with those that have asked for guests. The key is to make yourself happy. Forget everyone else for a moment. This is our day. Our one and only wedding day and we want it our way. And that’s what we’re doing.

If I can leave all of you one bit of advice that we’ve learned along the way it would be to try and have no regrets. Don’t be swayed because you feel guilty and certainly don’t be pressurised into anything you aren’t 100% happy with.

Now saying all of that…we’re yet to do the table plan!


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Emily Eldershaw //

Great article! We have been through the exact same thing!! With parents asking why we’re inviting one set of cousins and not the other…well one we see one regularly and the other I can’t even remember the last time we spoke!
We’ve also done the ‘no kids’ things, even with family coming down from Scotland and leaving children at home…absolutely every parent we have invited have been so grateful of the fact that they are having a child free night away!

Flushing Bride //

Such a great post and so so true. I have experienced exactly the same thing and it’s so hard to say no in a firm but fair way without getting so frustrated that you just freak out! The first few times were OK but as it goes on it just gets more and more difficult to keep calm.
But it certainly makes me feel better knowing most other brides (if not all!) go through the same thing.