Dear ESB: I know you’re sick of the guest list question… but here I go.

Categories   Wedding Advice

But does anyone really tire of the guest list question? It’s something that seems to haunt even the most well organized bride-to-be. East Side Bride shares her take…

OK–i know what I need to do, just not sure how to go about it.

In brief: at my old job I was close with a group of four girls. We were pretty tight at work and though I liked them very much we never became friends in real-life (the four of them, though, are very close and hang out all the time). I left the company four years ago so we meet once or twice a year for drinks and/or lunch. We email here and there. I still do like them very much. Two were married in the past year and I was shocked when they invited me. I went to one but not the other (it was across the country).

OK. Now I am engaged and am not planning to invite any of them. It’s not a numbers thing (though 8 less heads is a lot of saved money). I just feel like we are friends of circumstance, not of choice. AGAIN–I like them. But I like a lot of people in my life who aren’t invited to the wedding. My plan was just to avoid them the next 5 months and not address the situation. Have the wedding come and go. If they brought it up tell them we had a strict headcount. Call me a coward–I can’t deny it.

BUT THEN … one of them got a job at my new company IN MY DEPARTMENT. I still don’t want to invite them but now I feel like I have to address it head on since I will be seeing her every day, all day and the wedding will inevitably come up.

Question 1 –am I correct to think I owe them an explanation?

Question 2–if I do owe them an explanation, how honest should I be? What do I say?

One more thing to consider: I AM inviting two friends from my current job who I have become very close with. I hate the idea of ranking my friendships but that’s just how it is, isn’t it?

You should invite who you want to invite without feeling guilty about it.

(I KNOW, this is easier said than done).


Yes, you should invite who you want to invite (and nobody you don’t) without feeling guilty about it.




But. Avoiding the issue will make you feel guilty. And think of how these ladies feel! They don’t know if they’re invited… They don’t know if it’s okay to broach the subject… And they might be dying to talk wedding and be supportive and admire your ring (or whatever) even if there’s no invitation forthcoming.

Under no circumstances should you tell them the whole truth. There is no reason to say, “I’m not friends with you by choice.”

When the opportunity arises, say to the semi-friend now in your department: “We have a really strict headcount….” Or: “We’re trying to keep it intimate….” And: “We can’t invite you and X and Y and Z.”

Be frank and friendly and unapologetic. You’ll all feel better.

Photo of Elle Fanning via designlovefest via Mary Rose

Social Love

@WeddingReports on Oct 23, 2012

Dear ESB: I know you’re sick of the guest list question… but here I go. via @100LayerCake #wedding

hampton on Oct 23, 2012

I halfway disagree. Of course you shouldn't feel obligated to invite people you don't want to invite, but I don't really see the problem here. You like these girls, you say that 8 more people won't necessarily break the bank, and now one of them works with you, and also with two other girls who *will* be invited to the wedding. I think it would be easier and less stressful just to invite them. I can understand why you'd been planning not to up to the point when homegirl took her new job at your office... but now that you are at that point, I would reconsider. It will end up causing you more stress to NOT invite them, and who needs that?!?

@clubwedd on Oct 23, 2012

But does anyone really tire of the guest list question? It’s something that seems to haunt even the most well or...

Moe on Oct 23, 2012

There is no possible way you can make everyone in your life happy and invite them all to your wedding. Stop trying to people-please. You don't owe explanations to anyone. Since when is it socially acceptable to expect wedding invitations and get all butt-hurt when you don't get one? What happened to proper ettiquete for GUESTS? I had a somewhat similar experience where a former co-worker from 10 years ago heard I was planning a wedding. (We periodically kept in touch, the last time I saw her was a year ago before she moved 4 hours away) She asked for an invite! I told her no! She got mad! I didn't care!

ms k on Oct 23, 2012

Do whatever you'd like to, but for the love of God, don't avoid the issue. That's only going to make everyone feel like crap and, to be honest, it's immature and it never ends well.

@sashbuzz on Oct 23, 2012

Dear ESB: I know you’re sick of the guest list question… but here I go.

@eastsidebride on Oct 23, 2012

the cakelets are very quiet today. clearly i NAILED this one

Rachel on Oct 23, 2012

Making another point about this subject... Everyone invite (at least those that end up attending) will become part of your happily ever after...forever. They will likely sign your guest book, whatever version of that you may have. No doubt they will be included in some photos. Heck, they may even take center stage of a specific wedding day activity - like catching the bouquet. And, at the very least, you will remember that they were there. Three years ago when I married, we decided to keep it small, under 100 guests. I did end up inviting several coworkers though. Some who I was "friendly" with out of the office, and others because I simply felt obligated. Our "guest book" hangs in our home now and every time I look at it, I'm reminded of these people who I don't even speak to today. One of them was fired shortly after my wedding and I didn't speak to her again after. Having her note on our "book," photos of her in our album and spotting our memories of the day annoys me now. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but try to be true to yourself and what you want your day to be. With any luck (and hard work), this day begins the rest of your life. It happens once, make it count. When was the last time someone called you to ask who they should invite to their day? Exactly.

lisa on Oct 23, 2012

If it doesn't break the bank, why not just invite them? You stayed in touch with these friends for years after leaving your former job, and with one of them now working with you again, it seems like that bond will get closer again. If you honestly no longer wanted to be friends with them any more and only felt obligated to keep in touch, that would be one thing, but it seems like you actually really like these people. I know some people regretted inviting certain people to their weddings, but for me, I still regret some of my less-than-super-close friends that I chose not to invite. If money isn't the issue, just do it. No matter how good your explanation is for not inviting someone, its still a slight diss.

Hillary on Oct 23, 2012

Funny - I always assume the opposite of what Rachel pointed out. I can't imagine caring (like she does) that someone I no longer hang with was at my wedding. Big deal. I was worried, however, about NOT inviting anyone who might become even more important in my life over time, so we erred on the side of inviting people. I have friends now that I didn't even know when I got married and am bummed that they weren't at my wedding--as irrational as that may be. That said, I agree with ESB.

@100LayerCake on Oct 23, 2012

We know for a fact this topic haunts even the most well organized bride-to-be...

@bridalshowATL on Oct 23, 2012

Great advice! RT @100LayerCake We know for a fact this topic haunts even the most well organized bride-to-be...

rita on Oct 24, 2012

on our wedding day, a friend said, look around this room - is there anyone who you wish was NOT here? and there was. same way there were people who we wished WERE there... if your gut says don't invite, don't invite. just own it. the best thing a quasi friend said to me while wedding planning (we went to her wedding 3 months before our own) was - don't feel like we have to be invited b/c you are invited to ours, we know everyone wants different things out of their day. i loved that so much i almost invited her just b/c of that! (but didn't invite her, we were going for intimate)

Megan on Oct 24, 2012

Something similar to this happened to me. I worked somewhere for four years and after I left I stayed close with two people there, which were invited to the wedding. I didn't, however, stay close with others. Two of those that I had not stayed close with actually approached me and asked if they would be invited—which is extremely rude. It was early enough in my planning that I was able to say "We haven't made a guest list yet, but we are keeping it rather small." Though we had already made the guest list at that point, the two that approached me were never on the guest list and I didn't add them. Them approaching me about being invited made me even more sure about my decision to not invite them.

Frank Myers on Oct 25, 2012

The primary reason for not inviting people generally comes down to either cost or venue capacity. If neither area is a concern here then why stress about this and worry about the fallout. Take the road that is most comfortable and least stressful for you, which in this case sounds like you should just invite them and move on to the next issue, 'cause there is always a next issue!

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