Protocol for Inviting Family Members to Your Wedding

By The Celebration Team 07 Jul, 2011

Protocol for Inviting Family Members to Your Wedding

Many bridal couples face the challenge of having to cut their desired wedding guest list to be able to accommodate them within a certain wedding venue or to ensure that they do not exceed their agreed upon budget. Alternatively, you may feel that, since you are not close to certain parts of your family tree, you do not feel the need to share such a personal and important day with them. Whether friends, family or colleagues, it is always somewhat difficult to exclude certain people (individuals or groups) from your wedding invitation list.

There are various opinions regarding the necessity of inviting all family members. Most accepted etiquette rules state that parents, grandparents and siblings are essential parts of your guest list. First cousins, aunts, uncles and step-siblings are expected, but not absolutely necessary (depending on their situation around the world, age gaps and relationships to you as a bridal couple). Keep in mind that, if aunts and uncles are invited, they will likely assume that your cousins (their children) are also invited, as will the cousins themselves. Sensitivity is required in these situations.

The wisest course of action, in terms of offending the least number of people, is to exclude entire categories of guests. For example, decide that no cousins from either side will be invited. Explain to your aunts and uncles why this is (lack of space or funds) and, possibly, discuss it with your cousins. Alternatively, decide that only people over the age of 18 years are invited. This will exclude all of the children of friends and family members, cutting your numbers down considerably. This kind of categorisation has to be applicable to and agreed upon by both of you as bride- and groom-to-be. It would, therefore, be inappropriate to decide that only his cousins will be invited, for example.

You will probably feel the need to explain why some have been invited and others have not. The invitation is not the place to do this. Simply hand invitations only to those that are sincerely invited and do not give anything to those that are not. Any kind of explanation would be more heartfelt and understandable if it came from you in a personal capacity. Fortunately, excluding children from a wedding is quite a normal practice and a simple “Regrettably, no children” should suffice.

If you feel that it is necessary to include the uninvited in your celebrations in some way, ask your bridesmaids and best man to invite them to your pre-wedding events (such as your Hen Night and Bachelor Party). Alternatively, you may want to have a large family barbecue or picnic when you return from your honeymoon venue to which everyone is invited and able to share in the joy of your marriage.

Ultimately, your wedding day cannot and should not be limited because of a lack of space or money, but these are very real issues facing modern couples. With preparation, sensitivity and tact, this situation can be handled without bruising too many hearts or egos.

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