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Who to invite to a wedding

The guest list game

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Weddings can be extremely expensive and many couples try to cut corners without piercing anyone’s feelings. And it’s because of this that the guest list always seems to escape trimming.

But this aspect of the planning process should not be overlooked, especially when you are trying to stay within budget. After all, less guests means more money to spend on stuff such as a good photographer, food, entertainment, your honeymoon, and of course, some well-earned cocktails at the reception.

So, who should you invite?

Close family — grandparents, aunts, uncles, and first cousins — should be considered first. But then, who else? Here are a few types of guests to mull over before you lick stamps and send everyone a formal invitation.

Distant relatives

Distant relatives should be considered after immediate family. Maybe there are some family members who have a special bond with one of your parents, but who you haven’t seen since your bar mitzvah 20 years ago. Is this someone you have regular contact with? Do you speak on the phone or Skype often? If not, then this would be someone you would invite for your parent’s sake, not yours. If you do not have a close relationship with this person, it is okay to leave him off the list. Not only do distant relatives take up a lot of slots on the guest list, they also attend out of a sense of duty, not because they really want to be there when you tie the knot.

Distant close relatives

What about close relatives, such as aunts, uncles, and first cousins that you have an acrimonious relationship with? If your Aunt Dottie is a first-class drama queen, your Uncle Jesse tends to make inappropriate comments, and your cousin Paula is an apologetic, alcoholic mess, nobody should fault you for not extending an invitation. Yet, before you do make a decision, have a discussion with your hubby-to-be. You may also want to consider the impact that excluding this guest will have on all of your other guests.

Friends and co-workers

This is another tricky, gray area. In regards to friends, you should choose whom to invite in the same way you decided on distant family members. For instance, it’s wise to invite your closest friends who you see on a weekly or monthly basis. But you may want to reconsider your BFF from middle school. Yet, old college friends that you keep in touch with regularly via Skype, email, or Facebook should be considered as final guest list contenders as well.

Then there are your co-workers.

It seems rude not to invite the people you spend most of your time with, but it is not. Yes, you do see your boss and your co-workers for eight or nine hours, five days a week, but proximity does not necessarily foster close interpersonal relationships. If you do not have personal relationships with these people, leave them off the list, unless your boss makes it known she wants to attend — in that regard, invite her!


Is your wedding and reception going to be a kid-friendly zone? If you have children, this is a no-brainer. But what if you don’t and do not plan on having any children?

The kid dilemma is one of the most difficult to resolve, as some parents take child-unfriendly weddings as a personal affront.

First, decide whether there are any little ones you actually want at your ceremony such as a favorite niece, nephew, or godchild. If you do, then go ahead and extend invitations to children, but you may want to initiate a minimum or maximum age requirement to keep your list from growing out of control.

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Reader feedback

Kiera says:
Nov. 27, 2015, 7:45 am

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