Many couples find themselves overwhelmed by wedding details. High on that list is who to invite, and more importantly, can you afford to invite them? If your growing guest list is filled with obligatory gestures, you might want to rethink your approach. Fortunately, having a destination wedding does most of the weeding out for you since accepting such an invitation comes with a considerable expense to attendees, especially if they have children, and so, only those with whom you have a close relationship are likely to attend. One approach to the list edit dilemma, is to create tiers.

Sharon Naylor, author of 1001 Ways To Save Money . . . and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding suggests that once you have written out a draft of your complete list, you place each guest into a relationship category. The first tier consists of essential family members (grandparents, siblings, uncles, first cousins); the second, close friends and extended family (second cousins); the third, colleagues and other friends. When you know how many guests you can afford, start cutting the list from the bottom tier up.


This category is exactly as the name suggests—essential—but it assumes you consider these to be close relationships. Extend the invitations as appropriate even if you expect individuals with whom you have strained ties may decline making the journey.



This category is filled with people who regularly embarrass you but you think you have to invite or there will be awkward and lasting consequences, one of which is an earful from your mom. When it comes to extended kin, each name on your list comes with siblings and parents so if you’re in for one, etiquette might suggest you may be in for all. It’s best to consider your level of closeness and whether or not you’ve both made an effort at a meaningful relationship over past year. Keep in mind, each set of your parents will expect a specific number of invites be extended on their behalf and those accepting will probably come from this category, making this set prone to growth spurts. You’ll need a vigilant eye, especially if your parents are paying for the wedding (money always emboldens us) in fact, get ahead of it, setting boundaries early before they start making phone invitations. By close friends we mean active social participants in your present life, not those whom you think you should invite because of how long you’ve known them.



Grouping rules frequently apply here, after all, you spend considerable time with co-workers and the ones you did invite speak to the ones you didn’t. If you see them socially outside the office and your connection extends beyond similar lunch orders, put them in the “maybe” column. If your boss is someone with whom you collaborate closely or it would reflect poorly on you not to invite them then you might as well, however, be consistent, a truly ‘intimate’ affair isn’t likely to include any co-workers so be careful not to introduce a game of favourites. It may be more polite not to mention your wedding plans to all, and smart politics to extend one exclusive invitation to the team lead.

The friend criteria: do either of you reach out to the other for in-person get-togethers more than once a year? You can see how this filters out the more abstract “friends” group whose natural habitat seems limited to social media.

The social expectation of reciprocal entertaining is a strong one so use the fact that yours is a smaller wedding to waive any obligation to invite someone who’s wedding you attended. If you have mutual friends you’ve invited, make the private nature of your ceremony clear so they won’t over verbalize in front of those not on your list.

Plus ones? Allowing guests to bring a plus one means you’ll likely end up making rather pricey provisions for a stranger but on the other hand you won’t have a single person who feels excluded from your close-knit group. Plus ones are pretty much mandatory for those who clearly have a significant other, even if you’ve not yet met them.

Being able to direct the budget into wedding upgrades makes the idea of an intimate gathering really appealing to many couples. After all, your money will go a lot further if you don’t have to feed well over 100 people, a crucial consideration since the expense to you will likely include events or excursions over a period of days. The fact that destination weddings typically have a lower attendance rate can work in your favour to keep your guest list and costs manageable.