The exact script to follow when a guest didn't make the cut for your wedding.

This is an edited extract from Get Wed by Amy Parfett and Melany McBride, the wedding-planning gurus behind Wedshed.

For some couples, deciding on the guest list proves one of the biggest challenges in wedding planning

The nature of weddings means you can't really invite every man and his dog (and nor should you). This is a day to bring together the crème de la crème of humans who have impacted your lives to make them better.

In a nutshell? Invite people who you truly want to share the day with.

If the thought of a prospective guest makes you sigh dramatically, roll your eyes or start telling an anecdote that involves bodily fluids, beer bongs or getting arrested, strike them off (unless it's a fond memory, that is). And if you don't even have a story to tell about the person because you've never even met them then it's okay to leave them off too.

Watch: Ask Mia anything: My wedding day. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Why does this feel so hard?

There are many reasons this can be one of the trickiest parts of planning your shindig, and they're complicated.

First of all, if any of your parents have kindly offered to chip in financially, this can come with some expectations that their friends might be added to the list. As with everything wedding planning-related, we recommend an open conversation with your folks about this.


Secondly, there's a common paradox you might run into: the number of guests you invite to your wedding may depend on the capacity of the venue you choose. 

However, the venues that you shortlist for consideration may depend on how many guests you anticipate you'll be inviting. So you might find yourself unable to make a definitive guest list until you've locked in a venue, or vice versa. That said, you can also decide on a minimum number of people that whatever venue you choose must accommodate.

Lastly, it's a pretty logical thing but the more guests you invite, the more expensive your wedding will be. The more intimate the guest list, the more affordable the wedding (unless you're going small but extravagant – say, booking a private island or Italian villa, in which case, this feels like a good time to mention we're available for ad hoc, on-the-day wedding pep talks and dress-fluffing duties). 

And look, we know it's not particularly warm or fuzzy to think about guests as figures on a bottom line but it's something to keep in mind if you're like the majority of couples and conscious of budget.

How to decide on your guest number.

We'd recommend popping all of your closest mates and family down on a spreadsheet that's shareable with your partner. At this stage, we'd say go as broad as you want to – don't hold back and don't consider venue size or budget.

After you've finished this (fingers crossed the number isn't shocking), it's time to get ruthless.

Colour code your crew into 'no-brainers' and 'maybes'. It's worth noting that the per-head cost of each guest may go beyond simply how much food and beverage you'll need to cater. Depending on your venue, you may also want to factor hire items (chairs, plates, glassware, etc.), or wedding favours (if that's your jam) or transport (if you're providing this to and from the venue).


Did a few more heads just roll? Once you've done this, you'll be able to get a clearer picture of the number of guests you both want to invite, which may help inform your choice of venues.

Culling the guest list.

As a general rule, we'd suggest asking yourselves these six questions when going through your list:

  1. When did we see this person last? Have either of us spoken to them in the last twelve months?

  2. Have we both heard of and met each guest? If one of you has never met a particular guest before, then consider whether they really need to be there.

  3. Do we want kids at our wedding? If not, don't feel bad about not inviting them. We'll dive into this topic deeper soon.

  4. Are we inviting this person just because we're feeling guilty? If the answer is 'Yes', don't invite them. Simple! It's a day that's about no one other than you and your significant other, and only the top people should be there to witness it all go down.

  5. If they're a colleague, have you ever hung out with this person outside of work? If the answer is 'No', consider whether they need to be there. Careers change and unless you can truly see that relationship lasting beyond the job, then keep that friendship in the office.

  6. Are we only inviting this person/people because they invited us to their wedding? How long ago was that? If it was years ago and you've lost touch a little since, then it makes it easier to leave them off the list (relationships change). But it's also okay not to reciprocate an invite even if their wedding was recent –it's not a tit-for-tat game and if you're only planning on inviting them as a token gesture, we'd suggest you save the seats for people who are more genuinely valued in your lives.

Your wedding guest list is precious real estate. Some do's and don'ts to sum this up:

  • Don't invite Tara from accounts just because you have lunch with her occasionally but never see her outside of work.

  • Don't invite smelly Great-Uncle Bert, who you only see at funerals.

  • Do invite friends who you can see yourself still hanging out with in ten years.

  • Do invite friends and family that you both already know. Your wedding is not the time to meet your second cousin's new boyfriend.

Let's go through some wedding guest FAQs.

How do we tell people they aren't invited?

You don't need to. 

Unless, of course, you've got some people in your life who you know will absolutely be expecting an invite and it'll be awkward if you don't say anything.

In this case, shoot them a quick message or call to explain that while you value their presence in your life, you sadly won't be able to extend an invitation to the wedding due to venue capacity/budget/the fact you're having an intimate wedding – whatever the reason may be.

Normally, though, there's no need to notify people who haven't made the cut – the likelihood is that they'll make this assumption about number constraints themselves and completely understand. It's quite possible they weren't expecting the invite either.

Can we invite people to our engagement party who we're not inviting to our wedding?

There's no issue here. Often, the timeframe between an engagement party and a wedding can be long enough that certain people may not be as significant in your lives anymore (e.g. work colleagues at the time of your engagement). 


Or you may be having a more intimate wedding than your engagement party. Either way, it's not unusual to have some changes in guests between the two separate events.

Is there any protocol around inviting partners to a wedding if you've never met them before?

This one induces a lot of anxiety for a lot of people. Here's an interesting way of looking at it: would you normally shout an expensive dinner for a stranger?

There are some considerations though - and this is where shiz starts to get murky:

  • If the person you're inviting won't know anyone else AND they're in a long- term relationship with their partner (like, married) AND/OR they're travelling for the event, then consider making an exception.

  • If you're making an exception, you need to make it for all the people in that social circle: you can't cherry-pick which of your fiancé's school mates get to bring a date and which don't when you've never met ANY of their partners.

What if my partner and I disagree on who should be invited?

Try and have an open, non-judgmental discussion about why you both believe certain parties should or should not be invited. This is a sensitive subject because it's based on personal relationships - neither of you can discount the importance that someone has in the other's life, so tread gently. 

Here are a couple of things to consider:

  • Do you just dislike one of your partner's friends? If that person is still important in your partner's life, ask yourself if it's really going to be a day-ruiner if they're present - or can you just avoid them and focus on all the other wonderful folk who are there?

  • Will it be truly damaging if you or your partner don't invite the person that you don't see eye-to-eye on? If not, consider adding them to a 'maybe' list and then see how your budget is tracking at the stage when you're ready to send out invitations.

Make a decision as quickly as you can and then move on. You don't want to be dwelling on something that causes friction for too long (there are too many other fun things to be doing and life's too short to get caught up in a guest list).

How do I uninvite someone to my wedding?

Postponed your wedding from your original date and rethinking your plans? Perhaps you're considering downsizing your nuptials and hosting something more intimate. Or perhaps you've grown apart from someone that was on your original list.

If this sounds familiar, then we're here to help. 

Uninviting guests requires sensitivity and we believe the best approach is to be honest, kind... and quick. Once you know you don't want someone attending your wedding, rip the band-aid off and let them know ASAP to avoid inconveniencing them and to save yourself spending excess time stressing about it.


Here's a guide:

  • Acknowledge the fact that you originally invited them.

  • Explain what's changed – it could be the size of your wedding or the financial pressure you're experiencing, or it might be that, while you value their friendship, you recognise that life's busy and taking you both in different directions right now.

  • Make it clear that they're no longer invited to your wedding – '... For this reason, sadly we will no longer be able to share our day with you.'

  • End it with something light that indicates what you want next – 'We hope you understand, and hope to catch up with you soon.'

Image: Supplied

Get Wed: The Complete Guide to Planning a Wedding with Minimum Stress and Maximum Good Vibes, by Amy Parfett and Melany McBride, $49.99, is out now.

Feature Image: 'Bridesmaids'/Universal.