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The Stylist wedding blog: navigating guest list politics

Posted by
Natasha Tomalin
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The wedding guest list is the ultimate test of bridal endurance and a political minefield. Personally, I like to call it the 'how to lose friends and alienate people' list...

“So, who are you inviting from work, then?” asks a colleague over a casual after-work drink. 

It seems like a reasonable enough question, except it totally catches me off guard and I unintentionally list the few colleagues I am inviting except for her, at which point she exclaims, “Well, thanks for the invite, Tash!”

I want the Earth to swallow me whole. She has been on the guest list from the start, but in the heat of the moment I forget to say that, and then it looks like I’m backtracking.

Luckily, we are good enough friends outside of work for her to not get too offended (I hope). But what about all the other people I work with/ went to school with/ spent hours shooting the breeze in the student union with? The list goes on...

I have a numbers limit on my venue, so I physically can’t invite everyone I know, which is probably a good thing and is certainly a perfect excuse for those uni friends who seem baffled that they’re not invited, even though I’ve only seen them twice in the last seven years.

Miss Havisham list

Miss Havisham never had this sort of trouble

But when it comes to your wedding guest list, who should you invite? Your boss? Your staff? That girl from school who was in your friendship group, but you never really liked? The truth is, I don’t really know, but I have approached it like this:

If the proposed person is a work colleague and you consider them a friend (i.e. go drinking with them) you should want to invite them anyway. If you don’t, no love lost there.

If they are your boss, invite them – even if it’s just to the evening – for obvious reasons (unless you really hate them, in which case, don't have them taint your big day).

If you are their boss, consider whether you like hanging out with them and how willing you are for them to meet all your eccentric relatives and, based on that, invite them to the evening only – again, for obvious reasons.

snow white

Deciding upon your wedding guest list can be a political mine field

In terms of old school/university friends, you may find that a few of them crawl out of the woodwork as soon as you announce your engagement.

Thankfully I’ve not had any of these, but they are NOT to be trusted and you should NOT be guilt-tripped into inviting them.

As far as the rest of your friends are concerned, if you haven’t seen the person in the last two years, don’t bother; the likelihood is you won’t see them for the next two years either. 

And the rest is simple. 

Except for family, which is personal to everyone, so no rules apply - and good luck with that!

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please post your comments below, or on Twitter @stylistmagazine and @natashatomalin, using the hashtag #Stylistweddingblog. 

Images: Rex Features