Is it okay to give plus ones to some guests but not others?
Ideally, no — but this decision will also depend on knowing your audience. If most of your guests are in long term relationships and you’ll be inviting just a handful of singles, there’s a good chance they’ll be understanding if you’d prefer not to offer for them to bring a random tagalong. Conversely, if you have a couple of single friend who won’t know any other guests in attendance, and you know it would make a big difference in their enjoyment of the day to have a companion along, it’s worth looking for a way to add space for a few select plus ones to your budget.
Can I pick and choose which children to invite?
Absolutely. It’s your wedding, and you can choose to be surrounded — or not — by whichever loved ones you want, no matter their ages. However, be prepared for possible questioning by parents whose kids you haven’t invited. Setting a blanket rule (for example, no kids under the age of 12; blood relations only; or breast-feeding infants only) can help to make your reasoning clear cut for those who may feel their little ones are being unfairly left out.
Do I have to invite my boss and co-workers? What about their partners/spouses?
No. That said, if there’s a small group of colleagues you’re close with (or you plan to tell about detail of your planning process over the coming months), do include them if you can. As for your boss, traditional etiquette advises sending them an invite — but if your working relationship is such that you only speak once a month at your team meeting, they shouldn’t mind being left off your list. As for co-workers’ partners or spouses (many of whom you likely haven’t met), it’s a nice gesture to include them if you can, but it generally is acceptable to omit them — so long as you’re inviting a group of co-workers who can spend time with each other on the day.
My mom is insisting I invite her childhood friend I’ve never met, and my dad wants to invite his golfing buddy — what should I do?
It’s frustrating to feel forced to pay to have guests you don’t know to attend your wedding, but the best advice here is to let it go and pick your battles — particularly if you parents are footing a portion of the bill. Talk with them to negotiate a number of guests for them to invite, no questions asked. If you’re approaching you venue’s (or your budget’s) maximum guest count and your parent’s additions would require you to cut some of your own friends’ names from the list, ask your parents to consider have a separate smaller gathering to celebrate with their friends instead, such as throwing an engagement party in your honour.
Is it okay to have a B-list of guests to invite in place of those that RSVP “no”?
This one’s tricky. It’s true that inevitably some invitees won’t be able to attend your big day, and there’s nothing wrong with adding others in their place. However, you’ll need to be careful about how you handle your second round of invites, since they’ll be going out conspicuously later than the first. It’s best not to try to hide the fact they’re on the reserves (the truth always comes out anyway), and instead gently explain that while you’d have loved to have invited them from the get go, budget or space constraints prevented in — but happily, room has opened up and you’re glad to be able to invite them now. If you think someone might be at all offended to know they’re a back up, save yourself the drama and don’t invite them.
My fiancé(e)’s family is bigger than mine, but my parents are contributing more funds to our wedding. How should we divide the guest count?
Take this as a lesson for your future married life: nothing will ever be fifty-fifty, so don’t start trying now. You are about to become a part of your fiancé(e) family, and they, yours. Trying to build a guest list with a completely even split is an exercise in futility, and the sooner you (and your parents, if they’re paying) accept that, the happier you’ll be. Instead, focus on ensuring you both have the opportunity to invite the people that mean the most to you, regardless of the ratios.