Andrea loves to design and plan events. She especially loves small events, garden parties, and weddings.
Curating Your Bridal Party and Guest List
Weddings are full of decadence, lots of stress, and cake. One of the things you’ll realize is that your friends fall into certain camps. It’s likely that before you get engaged you’ll have a good idea of who you want to invite to your big day. Fair warning: There is a good chance you’ll readjust expectations about friends and family based on how they attend your wedding or even deny your invitation.
This article is here to help you understand the tiers of friends that you have. It will make your life easier when you can understand who are the VIPs in your life vs. someone who just sells you hotdogs. (The spectrum of friends can be more nuanced than that and harder for you to make a call on whether they should be invited or not.)
Why is this important? You need to know who are your non-negotiables when it comes to the guest invite list. You have a certain wedding size, so you can’t invite 1,000 Facebook friends, unless you somehow have secured a massive-sized venue.
You also don’t want to waste your time sending out invitations to the wrong people. Why waste time sending an invitation to someone if you know they don’t care about you that much? Really, think about it. Do you need to send a wedding invitation to your ex?
It’s also important to know the closeness of your friends, so you can decide on seating arrangements and who gets to be in the bridal party.
Also, the way people treat your wedding will make it apparent which people care about you and your future. People who make the right impression at this very important time in your life should be: on your Christmas card list, people you’d let crash at your house, or people you’d invite to other important events, like baby showers or fun vacation adventures with you and your spouse/family/friendship core.
Tier 1: The People Who Matter Most
This is your most important tier of friends. Classify this as your close family and best friends. These are people who would be there for you no matter what. These are the people who really care about you. They’ll be great guests, they’ll bring gifts, and they won’t bring you any grief.
The people in this tier will make up your bridal party and are VIP guests. What are VIP guests? They’re not celebrities — they’re people that you really care about but don’t have room for in your bridal party. Hint: You don’t need 12 bridesmaids. In all honesty, the smaller the bridal party, the better. A smaller bridal party means less extra work you’ll have to do.
Tier 1 could be the only people you invite. You’ll actually offend fewer people if they know you had a small wedding and kept things simple rather than if you had a GIANT wedding and skipped inviting them for whatever reason.
Your top tier includes:
- Bridal attendants
- VIP guests
Tier 2: Friends You Love, But Are Not Super Close
You might have some friends who you really love and you connect really well with them, but you wouldn’t say they’re your top friends. They’re great people, you have no problem with them, but they’re not exactly someone who you spend a lot of time with.
Tier 2 includes friends who you’ve just made, friends who you see on a semi-regular to an annual basis, and friends who you’ve had since childhood but rarely talk to. These could be great college friends, but they’ve moved away, and you don’t really stay in touch that much.
These friends will most likely not be taking a big role in your wedding. They’re there for the party, which is probably great for them. It’s great to be a guest who can be more of a spectator and doesn’t have lots of expectations put on them. They can wear what they want rather than having to worry about a bridal attendant outfit.
A large portion of your wedding party will likely be made up of Tier 2 friends. Don’t make them feel like they’re second tier, just know they’re not going to be in your tightest inner circle the day of your wedding.
Tier 3: Distant Relatives
If you have a big extended family, there are probably a lot of people you don’t really know very well. Your immediate family will more than likely be in Tier 1, of course, there are exceptions. Some people have an unpleasant immediate family.
Your extended family doesn’t necessarily have to be at your wedding; however, you might not know how much they really care about you. Because this group often goes to each other’s weddings, you’ll get good gifts from them and money. It’s a good idea to invite the larger family squad. They’ll see your wedding as a reunion. They’re hopefully supportive but not overbearing, like your parents might be.
You don’t have to invite your entire extended family. You might have some long-lost relatives, and you don’t need Sherlock Holmes to come out of the woodwork to find them.
Tier 3 includes:
- Cousins once, twice, or thrice removed
- Great aunts
- Great uncles
Tier 4: Co-Workers, Teachers, Neighbors, Outliers
This is a group of people who you would love to have attend your wedding because they mean something to you. You might want a teacher to attend because they helped turn you into the person you are, or you're just close with them.
This group is full of people you can cut from your wedding if your list is getting too long. You want them to come, sure! But it's not going to kill you if they're not there. These might also be people you want to get to know better, perhaps for reasons that are more selfish, like people who could advance your career.
This is also a great group of people to invite IF you're in a situation where you've ordered too much food and can't dial things back because of a contract or otherwise.
Tier 5: People Who Can't Make It, But Send Their Regards
This tier isn’t about people who are attending your wedding, but people who are still worthy of your time in the future. These are people who can’t make your wedding and not necessarily because of great reasons. You might have some Tier 1 or Tier 2 connections who can’t make it for very serious reasons, so you don’t need to analyze your connection with them too hard.
Someone who still cares about you will let you know they can’t make your wedding, they’ll send you their regards, they’ll say that they’re honored to be invited, and if they really want you to know they care — they’ll send you a gift. Someone who sends you a gift or a message is of more value to you than someone who can’t be bothered.
Think about it. Weddings are a big deal. Someone who can’t even say congrats or “I can’t make it” is indicating they don’t care that much. Prioritize other friends more.
Tier 5 is still Christmas card worthy.
Tier 6: People Who Have No Response or Just RSVP "No"
You might have some friends who do the polite thing and RSVP “no” — which is a good thing. You need a correct guest size list for catering. Actually bothering to RSVP is considerate to you.
But if they’re not actually reaching out to you and saying congrats, if they don’t send you a gift, and if they really can’t be bothered to say anything about your wedding day in general — I would consider rethinking this friend and your friendship to them. Are they as important as you thought? Or are they aloof and awkward about formal occasions? It’s possible that they’re not that interested in you… your friendship doesn’t matter to them that much.
Someone who can’t say anything beyond “no” isn’t really interested in you. It’s better than someone who can’t say anything at all, but in the big picture… only probably marginally so.
I wouldn’t make this friend as high of a priority if you thought they were in Tier 1. Following the wedding, don’t give them as much of your time if you were investing a lot into them.
Tier 7: People Who Decline and Have an Inappropriate Response
Most of your guest list will probably be in Tier 1 to Tier 6. Those are acceptable and normal tiers. Those are sensible places to be, even if Tier 6 is kind of poor to fair.
To be in Tier 7 means this person isn’t actually your friend. Perhaps they once were, but they’re not anymore. You must make this distinction. They’re not Christmas card worthy (Tier 6 isn’t really either).
They could decline your invitation and also delete you off Facebook, which is awkward. Why would sending a wedding invitation end in cutting ties on social media? Who knows, but it happened to me! I actually wrote to them asking why they deleted me, and their reason was something about how they’re eventually deleting their Facebook, that Facebook is evil, and it sounded like they were dodging their real reason. Anyway, it was weird.
I had to accept that my old friend wasn’t really an old friend anymore. They had clearly moved on for whatever reason.
Other inappropriate responses might be:
- Sending you messages that they don’t approve of your spouse-to-be.
- They might start flirting with you and sending you suggestive texts.
- They decline your invitation and then ask for money.
- They hint that they don’t remember you.
- They distribute your information to spammers.
- They send hateful and threatening messages back to you.
- They complain about their own circumstances and go on about how they’re bad at love (they’re bad at friendship too, let’s be honest).
You might be wondering how is this even a tier. I would argue it’s like the bottom tier of a cake that fell off and is on the floor and about to be swept up into the trash.
© 2022 Andrea Lawrence