How to Determine the Guest List for Your Pre-Wedding Events

Figure out who to invite to the parties leading up to your nuptials.

Your wedding is one thing, but find out how to choose who will get to attend the events leading up to your big day!

Photo: Elizabeth Messina

who to invite to pre-wedding events, bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, engagement party

One of the hardest parts about wedding planning is figuring out the guest list. Whether you want a big party or an intimate gathering, you have to balance what you and your future spouse’s parents want while also being stuck creating a hierarchy of your relationships with friends and family, which can be tough! However, that’s not where the guest-list making ends – assuming you choose to have pre-wedding events such as a bridal shower or engagement party. With many couples turning their nuptials into weekend-long celebrations, it can be difficult to know when to draw the line in regards to attendance to all the various fêtes. After all, not every event can include all of your guests, right? That’s correct to a point, though we will provide further guidelines below.

No matter the soirée, anything related to your nuptials must only include guests who are also invited to the big day. The one major exception is for office bridal showers, which are more low-key and often surprises where the guest of honor has no control over the guest list. Occasionally those eloping or having small destination weddings will have friends insist on a bachelorette party or bridal shower, but generally it is understood that the trade-off between an intimate vow exchange is missing out on such celebrations. Keeping those exceptions in mind, here are some basic ground rules.

Engagement Party:
This fête usually only includes close friends and family. Think of the guest list you would have for an intimate wedding. Of course, it’s welcome to be larger if the people throwing it (usually one set of parents) wants to host more people. Just make sure you’ve figured out your guest list so no one who attends is excluded from the main event!

Bridal Shower:
When traditional, the guest list should include female family members of the bride and her partner, as well as the bride’s closest friends – perhaps even limited only to her bridesmaids.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party:
Depending on how big of a party it is, this could be as small as the bridesmaids and groomsmen or extended to friends and similarly aged family members. Inviting those standing up with you during the ceremony is considered the minimum. 

Rehearsal Dinner:
Of course, those who participated in the rehearsal and their significant others should receive an invite. Extending an invitation to out-of-town guests is also considered a kind gesture.

Welcome Party/Morning-After Brunch:

These informal gatherings are an inclusive part of the wedding weekend. They might not all come, but all of your guests should be included.  

Discover how involved you and your beloved should be during these pre-wedding events and learn the pros and cons of hosting a morning-after brunch.

Opening photo by Jessica Claire Photography