To Invite or Not to Invite? Answers to Common Wedding Guest List Questions

Wedding guest etiquette RSVPs

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Ah, the guest list. Often one of the biggest sources of wedding-planning contention, it's a numbers game that every bride and groom has to play. Most wedding venues have some sort of guest capacity, not to mention that couples often have a general size of wedding in mind when coordinating their nuptials. So how do you find that magic number? And what do they do about people who can't come? Here are some common etiquette questions and answers for figuring it out!

What is a "B" list when it comes to wedding guests? Is this generally considered to be offensive?
B-lists are commonly the second round of potential invitees that couples don't have the room or budget to accommodate but would love to have at the wedding. Brides and grooms usually put friends and coworkers on their B-lists, thinking that they'll be more amenable to older guests than receiving last-minute invites after the no's from the primary guest list start trickling in. No one wants to be relegated to the B-list, of course, no matter how distant the relative or tenuous the friend. The best way to approach this is to only send save-the-dates to the "must-invite" list, and see what kind of advance notice you get from these. Within a few weeks, you'll have a better idea of numbers and can send save-the-dates to the B-listers.

How many "nos" should I expect from people I send invitations to?
Generally, expect about 10% wiggle room. If your venue can fit 200 guests, for example, invite 220 people. If it's a destination wedding, or if more than half your invitees live far enough away that they need to book a flight to attend, you can go 20 percent over.

How do I cut down a guest list that I know is too long?
If you're on the fence about someone and can't decide whether or not to invite them in this case, try imagining bumping into them on the street after the wedding. Think about how you'd feel if you didn't invite them. Do you feel terrible or only a tiny pang of guilt? Let your reaction guide your decision. Also consider estranged family members you were inviting out of courtesy, an ex, or someone who really might cause a (bad) ruckus. In the end, listen to your heart rather than convention, but remember that perceived wedding invitation injustices can last a lifetime.

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