The Wedding Equation

For my very first blog post, I thought it would be a good opportunity to tackle one of the most painful parts of planning a wedding – the guest list!

So, you begin writing down your guests, and suddenly you realise that you’ve actually become quite popular over the years…and so has your partner.  It’s easy to see why though, right?  You have spent your entire life building and maintaining amazing friendships throughout school, university, work etc; so it’s only natural that you have three or four close groups of friends that you want to invite.  The issue is, from your parents perspective, this day is not just about you.  This day is a milestone for them as well – the day that your next of kin changes from your parents to your partner, which is a huge end of a chapter as a parent.  Add in a financial contribution, and things can start to get complicated.  It might be given as a gift, but may also come with an unspoken undertone that this amount covers the guests they would like to invite.

So inevitably, this will cause a disagreement…perhaps not with all families, but certainly a vast majority!  Whilst I can’t solve this problem for you, I thought I’d walk you through some simple maths to demonstrate exactly why it is so very difficult, and why in reality, both the couples and the parents will ultimately have to compromise.  Feel free to point your parents to this post if you are finding this scenario challenging at the moment!

Where it all began

I remember sitting down with my husband to start our guest list – we did the ‘let’s write down everyone that just HAS to be there’…it ended up at 160, and our limit was meant to be 100. Ok, Plan B, cut out anyone that we haven’t had dinner with in the past 12 months.  Another couple drop off, mainly people living interstate. Sigh.

We try a few more…

  • Only invite people you would call for a chat.
  • Only invite people we see ourselves hanging out with in ten years time.
  • Only invite people we have known for more than 2 years.

Great the list is down to 140.  That’s when it starts to get tough.

  • No work friends
  • No children
  • No cousins

And so it goes on.

This is ultimately the issue that couples run in to – the point where you realise that you are only able to invite the very closest of friends to your wedding.  But why?  How does this happen?  Well, I figured it out – it’s called the Wedding Equation.

My partner and I were sitting there bewildered – we had only included our bridal party, family, and a few friends, and we were already at our limit! Then we broke it down…

If you have 100 people, that’s 50 people you can invite from each side. Perfect – except that when you include partners, it’s only 25 couples. We then had our parents, three siblings each, three bridesmaids and three groomsmen – all with partners. Just like that we had 7 couples each, leaving 18 couples still to invite.

Then comes the pressure from the parents – they are bound to want to invite aunties & uncles, as well as their kids, because to them, it’s family before friends.  It’s their brothers and sisters, and their nephews, but they have no concept of exactly how many seats that takes up in an already full list of loved ones.  Even if you manage to keep their list to a modest 6 couples on each side, you’re down to 12 couples each. 12!

We couldn’t believe our eyes – essentially 12 couples meant 12 close friends plus their partners. We had so many people we wanted there, so many that have enriched our lives, have supported our relationship, or just genuinely adore hanging out with!  Getting that number down to 12 friends each meant that this list of people were so close that they were basically family.  Oh, and then we realized we had to count ourselves, so there was another couple gone.  And just like that, we had a guest list of 100. Crazy.

So that, my friends, is why you should never feel upset about not being invited to a wedding. No one ever wants to purposely not invite someone or hurt anyone’s feelings, sometimes it’s just simply not possible.  Often venues have strict maximum capacity rules, they might come from a large family, or they simply can’t afford a big wedding.

I hope this helps you understand why you feel like you are pulling your hair out!  Rather than launching in to huge argument over who needs to be there, I would suggest firstly sitting your parents down and walking them through the maths.  Help them understand the numbers, the restrictions you are working within, and show them what that means for the guest list.  At the end of the day, you will both (the wedding couple and parents) need to explain to close friends that they simply can’t extend an invitation.  All I can say is that often this becomes a great test of friendship – true friends will completely understand and love you anyway.


Good luck x