Wedding Planning

Wedding Guest List Etiquette Questions

Wedding planning sometimes feels a bit like a minefield, right? Here are our best tips for managing your guest list like a pro.

Wedding planning sometimes feels a bit like a minefield, right? The constant dodging to the right and left, avoiding offending someone or making some sort of grave social faux pas can leave you feeling frustrated and exhausted. We have compiled some of our most requested guest list etiquette questions here:

Do I need to send save the dates?

While these informative paper goods aren’t a required step in the invitation process, they can be helpful in a couple of different situations. If you have a lot of guests traveling to your wedding, it’s good offer a heads up and basic information like the date and general location of your event so they can begin to make travel plans. The same goes for weddings on holiday weekends or during busy travel seasons.

When should I send my save the dates?

If you are sending save the dates, mail them between six and nine months before your wedding and even up to a year before hand if your celebration falls on a major holiday or is in a different country.

How far in advance should I mail my invitations?

A good rule of thumb is to mail your invitations six to eight weeks in advance for most weddings and up to ten weeks in advance for weddings that fall on a major holiday weekend. This gives guests plenty of time to make or finalize travel plans and find accommodations. Request that guests return their RSVP cards at least two weeks before the big day so that you can communicate your final count to vendors.

What do I include on my invitations?

The invitation itself should always include the specifics of who is getting married and who is hosting the celebration, as well as the time and location of the wedding. The only traditionally acceptable information to add in is the dress code – all other information, like a map and directions or hotel information, should be shared on a different card. P.S. Never put your registry information on your invitations. Include it on your wedding website instead.

My guest list is too long. How do I cut it down?

This is one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding. The last thing you want to do is potentially offend someone you care about, but venue size or budget constraints can require you to cut back on the number of people you invite. The first thing to remember is to do your best to be understanding of everyone’s feelings – including your spouse, parents and future in-laws. Start by reviewing the list. If you don’t recognize a name, politely ask if that person can be removed. Then move on to co-workers, who will likely understand if you want to only invite family and friends. Then move on to acquaintances, and finally, distant relatives.

Can I invite guests to just the reception?

If your plans include an intimate ceremony followed by a large reception filled with family and friends, it’s okay to invite guests to only the reception. Be careful to word the invitations so there’s no question that the reception is the only thing on the agenda – and remember that anyone you invite to the ceremony should also be invited to the reception no matter what.

Can I request that guests RSVP online?

The short answer? Yes. While tradition dictates that you mail out a response card for guests to mail back, more and more couples are opting to have guests RSVP online. Another increasingly popular trend is allowing your guests to make the choice by sending out response cards and offering them the chance to RSVP online as well. 

Who should receive a plus one and who can I invite solo?

If you have the space and the budget, it’s nice to offer all single guests a plus one. However, that isn’t always realistic. If you’re trying to limit your guest list, it’s common courtesy to extend a plus one to guests who are engaged or married, or even those in committed, long-term relationships.

For more etiquette answers check out our advice and etiquette page.

Photo Credit: K and K Photography