Narrowing down the guest list is one of the hardest parts of planning a wedding. Picking between friends and drawing the cut-off line for family members is tough stuff. To complicate it a little more, chances are a lot of these people are already married—and that you were there to celebrate with them. But does being invited to someone's wedding automatically guarantee them an invitation to yours? Here's what our experts have to say.
Evaluate the Friendship
The most important detail to consider here is your relationship with this friend. If they were married in the past year and a half and your friendship hasn't changed since then, you should definitely return the favor and invite her to your wedding. Were they married three or four years ago, and you've fallen out of touch (only to hear from her suddenly once you're engaged)? You're not obligated to invite her. Save spots on your guest list for someone you're really close with, and who has been there to support you as your relationship with your soon-to-be husband has grown.
Err on the Side of Caution
If you were surprised to be invited to their wedding because you're not that close, or the friend is a coworker who invited the entire office to her wedding, tread lightly. If you're inviting a few other people from work, you should probably invite your office buddy to your wedding, as well. Is that friend part of your tight-knit group? Again, err on the side of caution and extend an invitation.
Keep Practical Matters in Mind
Of course, keep your venue's capacity and your budget in mind when making these decisions. Inviting 25 family members and close friends to join you in the middle of Yellowstone National Park? You're off the hook when it comes to inviting that friend who got married last year but you haven't spoken to since. Hosting a super-casual backyard affair in your hometown, with room for 200 guests to wander and grab some barbecue? Add your friend to the list. Prioritize your guests as you're making a list, making sure that the people you really want there are at the top. If you've got a few spaces left over, fill them in with friends you've celebrated with in the past. If you're maxed out, your small venue is the perfect excuse.