Putting the finishing touches on your wedding guest list is hard enough, so the last thing you want to do is put together yet another guest list for those wedding weekend activities. Some, however, have a narrowed-down guest list built in, which takes the work out of it. (For example, most rehearsal dinners only include immediate family, the wedding party, and their plus-ones, while the welcome party might be opened up to everyone on the list).
The morning-after brunch is another story. Now that you’ve seen all of your guests, you’re probably thinking you have to invite every single one of them to breakfast, too. But inviting everyone to join you the next morning can feel like hosting another reception, with the catering costs to match. So can you cut this list down, or do you have to invite all of your guests for a farewell/hangover breakfast? Our experts weigh in.
The short answer is no, you don't have to invite everyone to the morning-after brunch. What you should do, though, is be very intentional about who you do and don’t invite, if you choose to cut it down. Immediate family? Definitely. Wedding party and their plus-ones? Put them on the list! Grandparents? Mm-hmm, them too!
Beyond that, use your discretion, but be consistent. If you're going to invite extended family members (aunts, uncles, and cousins), do so for both of your families. If you want to add some of your friends to the list, it should be all of your friends on both sides, as well as your mutual friends. Just like when you’re making the guest list for your wedding, picking and choosing some friends or cousins over others can result in hurt feelings, so consistency is totally key. Of course, if you start to open up the guest list to make sure everyone is fairly represented, you might as well just invite everyone!
If you're keeping the guest list small, either include an insert only in the invitations that are destined for the guests in question, or send out an e-vite to more easily track RSVPs. Not inviting everyone? Don't put the brunch on your wedding website. The rest of your guests might assume they’re also invited, or will be hurt to find out there’s more to the party and they’re not included. If you’ve got a room block at a hotel with a restaurant, don’t host your brunch in the main dining room. Instead, opt for a private room or have your brunch off-site to avoid any awkward moments when those you didn’t invite show up for breakfast and are dining at the next table.
Extending the invitation to everyone is a good way to play it safe, but another meal for 100 or more can be expensive, so be selective with offerings to keep the cost low. If your aim is a quick hug before everyone heads to the airport, limit the choices to coffee and tea, juice, pastries, and fresh fruit that your loved ones can easily grab (and even take with them in the car). For a sit-down meal that’s a little more hearty, that buffet can be tasty without being totally over-the-top. Scrambled eggs, potatoes, and bacon are crowd-pleasers, and no one will miss the omelette station or freshly made waffles. Skipping the alcohol (sorry, no mimosas and bloodies!) will also help you limit the costs. If your venue has a bar and offers brunch cocktails, guests could head to the bar to purchase drinks themselves.
Is a smaller brunch guest list a little more appealing? Don’t feel badly about keeping it intimate. Remember, you’ll be tired (and will have spent the entire night before socializing!), and nursing a hangover and entertaining a crowd don’t really go together. You might not be doing much more than sipping strong coffee, and many of your guests will already be on the road, anyway!