Navigating the Stepfamily Wedding Guest List

Updated 03/24/16

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Wedding guest lists are hard enough when you're only considering the needs of three parties (namely, the two of you and each of your families). Add divorced and remarried parents into the mix, and it might seem like a puzzle that just can't be solved. With twice as many family members to consider, who makes the cut and who gets left off of the guest list? Here are a few tips from our experts to help you navigate the situation.

The answer will change depending on how long your parents have been remarried and how close you are with your stepfamilies, but a good place to start is with your biological relatives. That means your mom and dad's families, and anyone you are close with from before your parents got divorced. You may have fallen out of touch with some of them, depending on how the divorce went, so think carefully about where the cut-off line is (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins only? or will second cousins and great-aunts or -uncles make the list?).

When it comes to stepparents and step-siblings, try to be inclusive. Your stepparents should be invited, with their names on the invitations alongside your parents', and you should include your step-siblings in the wedding, as well. Even if you're having an adults-only wedding and they're under 18, treat them as you would your biological siblings, which means they'll get on the guest list but probably won't get a plus-one.

Beyond that, it's up to your discretion, your venue, and your budget. If you're having a small wedding and don't have room to invite your stepmom's parents and sister (along with her sister's family), you're not obligated to cut your best friends off the list in order to squeeze them in. However, if your parents have been remarried for decades and you've gotten close with your stepdad's family, you'll definitely want to add them to the list. Apply the same guidelines you used when determining which relatives to invite: If your grandparents, aunts, and uncles are on the guest list, your step-grandparents and your stepdad's siblings should be, too.

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