Defined: The Guest List – Who is invited?

Welcome to the DEFINED series! Team JKE will be breaking down wedding and event industry concepts for you including defining wedding terminology, industry inside information, myth busting of common event planning mysteries, and more! This week was viewers choice: I held a poll on our Instastories and you guys voted that I talk about…. THE GUEST LIST!

I get it! The guest list is a major pain point for many couples. You’ve set the magic number for the guest list which directly affects your budget. However there is an emotional impact regarding the guest list that needs to be considered too. As a couple you are getting ready to merge lives, finances, and families. So when you say “I Do” who should be in the room where it happens? (Please someone catch my Hamilton reference 🙂 )

Let’s break it down!


The Guest List – What factors to consider:

Dc wedding guest list planner
JKE Wedding shot by ILE Photography

  • Do you talk to them regularly? Someone you talk to weekly, or monthly is probably sure thing.
  • How often do you see them? If this is your brunch buddy every quarter, they likely be included.
  • Do they fall within the 1-2 Rule? This is mainly for family, who can be the hardest to navigate. Have you seen them within one (1) year prior to your engagement? Have you spoken to them with the last two (2) years prior to your engagement? This matters! Someone you adore but have not seen or spoken to in years may not make the cut.
  • Have they ever met your partner? There may be a few college buddies who you love, but haven’t got the chance to meet you partner yet. It’s totally okay to include them, especially if you dont live in the same area. The biggest factor here is if they are local and haven’t met your betrothed, you may want to think just a little further about adding them to the guest list. In addition, when you are considering Plus Ones, also consider if you have ever met THEIR partner.
  • What is their marital status?
    • Rule of thumb is that a married person’s spouse should be invited to the wedding. This can double your guest list if you know a lot of married people so be mindful! Engaged couples should also have their partner invited but it isn’t as hard of a rule.
    • In the same vein, were you invited to their wedding? Okay, this is a smidge petty, but it’s relevant! Unless the relationship has significantly grown since their nuptials, they should probably be on the B-list.

  • Are children allowed at your wedding? Consider those loved ones who have larger families, including multiple children. If you invite the “The Smith Family” that means the whole family, including their kids. A child-free wedding is risky. It can alienate some of your guests who will need babysitters, but most parents can get off the night to celebrate your love.
  • Were they invited to pre-wedding activities? I have seen way too many couples ask if they HAVE to invite everyone who was invited to their wedding shower, engagement party, and bachelor/ette parties to the wedding. The answer is yes!
  • Is there going to be drama? Okay gloves off! You need do to an opportunity cost analysis here. For example: You may be extremely close to 2/3 of your moms brothers. But if you don’t invite your third uncle, your mom may a huge deal out of that. This is one of the few scenarios where inviting the person will SAVE drama. This is a tough one!
  • Would they add value to your wedding? Now is time for a value proposition analysis (those years in business school are serving me well)! Some people are just lit, and will ensure a good time is had by all. You need make sure you have these folks on the guest list. They will be the ones to keep the party going while you are busy mingling. Turn up!
  • Are your parents paying? Your parents have neighbors, friends, and co-workers that they will want to invite to their babies big day. They absolutely should get a percentage of the guest list if they are cutting the checks. Put aside at least 10% for the parentals. If they are not paying for the wedding, you dont HAVE to give them any space on the guest list, but it’s still best to give them a few invites. You can decrease the percentage as you see fit.

To conclude: I will let you in on a little secret – the hardest about the guest list is that it is up to you.

Couples worry about upsetting friends and family, breaking the bank, causing drama etc, but it is your big day! Do what you want, within reason, and follow these general etiquette guidelines. Jazmine Karess Events can help execute your vision, but only you know what type of experience you want to curate and what humans will make your big day even better!

Check out the DEFINED Series!

Consider me your wedding planning bestie! I prefer drinks first, but I love talking about all things weddings and events. 

MEET jazmine

Find It Quick





 My desire is to craft a unique and memorable event experience for you and your guests. If you are looking for a one-of-a kind experience and a stress-free planning process, you are in the right place.

Your story is uniquely yours - ready to tell me about it?

The Event Experience You Deserve