One of the first elements of wedding planning, and often one of the most stressful, narrowing down your guest list is no easy feat. Now more than ever, couples must be so cautious with their guest lists due to restricted numbers. Alexandra Desmond helps you narrow it down.  

Justin Alexander

Distant Relatives

First to go are the distant relatives who you don’t see or speak to. Usually, the pressure to extend an invitation to these individuals stems from the parents, but remain firm that you want to keep things intimate. Advise them that you would rather the seat were allocated to a close friend instead of somebody you don’t particularly know. Your parents wish to include older relatives is most likely because they are proud and want to show you off, so try and be tactful when letting them know. 

Old Friends

Don’t allow history to dictate invite rights; while you may have been close once before, people do grow apart, so if you have lost touch with an old friend and no longer feel particularly close to them, it’s OK to cross them off the invite list. A good way to judge this is to consider if they have even met your partner; if not – chances are that your paths probably won’t cross much in the future anyway.

Family Friends

Similar to the distant relatives, it’s common for parents to want to invite some of their friends to join the celebrations, which is totally understandable, as long as this is within reason. If either set of parents contribute to the wedding or even pay for it all, this naturally gives them a certain amount of input as to who they want to invite. A good idea to avoid any arguments is to sit down and discuss everything from the beginning when they first offer their contribution to ensure you are both working off the same page. You don’t want to appear ungrateful, but you also don’t want your parents’ friends to outnumber yours!

Lillian West

Work Colleagues

This can be a tricky area to navigate; you want to invite your work wife but feel that it may open you up to having to invite a whole host of other colleagues? Office politics can be a total minefield, but we think it’s entirely acceptable not to invite colleagues, you may spend five days of your week with them, but chances are they may not have even met your partner! Similarly, it’s also acceptable to invite colleagues but not their plus ones. If you do decide to extend an invitation to a group of colleagues, they can attend together, so don’t worry about feeling obliged to include a plus one.

Plus Ones That You Don’t Know

The old saying of “no ring, no bring” is outdated in this day and age, with plenty of couples skipping the marriage step and buying houses or having children together first, so I would advise a more tailored approach to this. Extend plus one invitations on the basis of how well you know the couple; if you consider them a friend, then it’s a no-brainer. On the other hand, if a friend has a new partner every few months, then it’s OK not to extend a plus-one invite.

People Who Didn’t Invite You To Their Wedding

This group of friends are the easiest people to narrow down as they have been in your exact situation and will understand the intricacies of guest lists. Simply explain to them that you would love to have them there, but unfortunately, you are so tight on numbers. Most couples will completely understand, so don’t sweat it! 

Justin Alexander

People You Wouldn’t Normally Go To Dinner With

Are they on your list of most recent calls or messages? Have you been out to dinner with them in the past year or 18 months? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t worry about not inviting them. Your wedding is essentially a giant dinner party for all of your close friends and family, so if they wouldn’t be on your normal list of invitees, then why start now?


This is an entirely personal decision at the couple’s discretion, but you can automatically cut numbers by sticking to an “adults only” wedding. Some venues charge the same cost per head, whether they are adult or child, so bear this in mind when you could be forking out €100+ for a plate of chicken nuggets and chips. To avoid upsetting anyone, we would advise imposing a blanket rule of no children, instead of picking and choosing certain friends children ahead of others. This doesn’t include flower girls and page boys but know they will probably be bored if there is nobody else their age there, so try to organise a babysitter or activities to keep them busy during the reception. 


Again, a tricky topic, if they are somebody who is still part of your everyday life and there is no weirdness amongst them and you as a couple then, by all means, extend an invite. Still, if your partner shows the slightest hint of unhappiness at your suggestion to invite them, then the safest thing to do is leave them off the list. Never allow them to believe they are invited until you discuss it fully with your partner. Remember, this could work both ways, so imagine yourself in your partner’s shoes!


Justin Alexander

Save The Dates

Only send save the dates to your closest friends and family; that way, it ensures your nearest and dearest have the date marked out in plenty of time but allows you longer to mull over your final list. Plus, the later you leave it to invite the rest of your guests, the more chance they may have a clashing event and are unable to make it.

Destination Weddings

Having a wedding abroad is an easy way to curtail your guest list. The perfect excuse for an intimate wedding, colleagues and older relatives won’t be offended by not being invited to travel. Weddings abroad are expensive for guests travelling, what with flights, accommodation and spending money, so naturally only those closest to you will want to go to the effort and expense.

Choosing A Small Venue

By choosing a venue with a smaller capacity, this is a sure way to force you to be rigid with your guest list. If you can’t physically fit people in, you’ll be forced to sit down and consider who you simply can’t imagine not being there to celebrate with you on the day.

- Alexandra