Old Friends: Who to Invite?

We just passed the four month mark before the big day. It is making me a little nervous, because for some reason, three months until the wedding seems a lot closer than four. Last week I looked at our timeline and realized that our unfinished guest list is staring me in the face. My hesitancy to produce the final list has come as a result of some decision-making issues. Let me explain. Beyond our list of definite invites, there is a group of “indefinites” (for lack of a better word). These are friends we were once close to, yet, we have drifted apart from either physically or emotionally: childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, and friends from old jobs. Well, you get the picture. We are on the fence about inviting many of these people. On the one hand, they have been significant people to us at certain times in our lives. On the other hand, these are not people that we interact with every day. A friendly note via Facebook, an email, or running into them at a social gathering is just about the extent of our communication.

Where do you draw the line as to which friends get an invite and which don’t? We have some room on our guest list. Not a lot, but some. I feel conflicted because several of my future in-laws’ friends will probably get an invite (don’t get me started on this subject), and we barely know a lot of them. So why then, should we fail to consider old friends?

The flip side of this is that maybe some of the indefinites don’t even want to attend our wedding. I’m a realist. I understand that not everyone is banging down the door to get into our wedding, especially those we haven’t seen in a while. I don’t want to put them in an awkward situation where they are like, “Hmmm, if we say “yes”, does that mean we have to dole out money for a gift for these people?” (Okay, I hope no one says that. But you never know…)

Do you have any indefinites on your list? Also, if an old or distant friend has invited you to their wedding, did you find yourself (a) happy and honored to get the invite, or (b) uncomfortable that you were invited and searching for any excuse to get out of it?


Mrs. Glitter

Los Angeles
Wedding Date:
June 2015
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  1. Member
    jennred782 371 posts, Helper bee @ 1:13 pm

    I so feel you on the future inlaws inviting their friends and it being a don’t get me started topic. I would say invite the people who have the most meaning that you would look back and think if they were there that you wished you had invited them. Don’t invite simply out of obligation.

  2. Member
    brena80 81 posts, Worker bee @ 1:20 pm

    Same here with inlaws inviting people that my fiance’ has never even met. And my mother is asking to invite people I’ve never met either *sigh*. I tried to compromise with a “B” list. If neither of us has met someone they are automatically on the B list.

    I’ve received invitations from old friends that I haven’t seen or spoken to in awhile. I felt happy for them but did not attend. I didn’t feel obligated to send a gift but I did anyway (something small of their registry). I felt more like it was a wedding announcement and I could take whatever action I felt was necessary.

  3. perfume Member
    perfume 82 posts, Worker bee @ 1:21 pm

    yes! and yes! i’m actually going through the same thing right now…

  4. Member
    chelseamorning 2252 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:27 pm

    We had a very small guest list, and the rule I used was if I hadn’t spoken to someone in more than a year or two, then I did not invite them.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    nin, Guest @ 1:29 pm

    “make new friends, and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold”

    or, so went the song in grade school.

    We had the same issue with our wedding. my husband chose not to invite his old friends who he’d fallen out of touch with, I chose to invite mine (particularly friends from grade school and high school). I only see these people once a year at best, but whenever we get together I feel the old ties and am confident that we truly care about each other and are enthusiastic about seeing eachother achieve positive things in life. these people also provide a link to who we were in the past, allowing us to connect to old memories and a deeper sense of self.

    I’m a big wedding person myself, so i’m always happy and honored to get an invite, even if I can’t attend the wedding. And the weddings I’ve attended have sometimes re-energized old relationships. maybe we don’t become best friends again, but we have more regular chats and meetups, which is nice. After marriage, it seems like our everyday friends shifted a lot, so it’s nice to have older friends back in circulation.

    Truth be told, only a few of them showed up, but many who did not sent little cards or emails with words of encouragement. The ones who didn’t care let me know by not answering.

  6. hotwings Member
    hotwings 2200 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:32 pm

    aw… the dreaded guest list. And i also feel like if you invite one person from that “B-list” they come with an obligatory circle that you have to invite to. It just expands exponentially as you go further. It’s pretty hard.

  7. Member
    HL 282 posts, Helper bee @ 1:36 pm

    I’ve dealt with the same problem (what to do with old friends, not the in-law one). For me, it came down to being honest with myself — did I really think that, five years from now, my relationship with those people would have picked back up? Or would our friendship just be five years more distant? And to what extend did I think it was worth trying to rekindle the friendship? Based on that criteria, some went on the guest list and others didn’t. it was hard, but I think it was the right decision in our case.

  8. Member
    Jesso 277 posts, Helper bee @ 1:39 pm

    i really tried to think about people and decide whether or not i wanted to spend time with them on my wedding day. there are tons of people i like a whole bunch but when it came down to it i realized i didnt really feel like i needed or wanted them there for my special day. that mindset helped me let go of a lot of people! (i mean, i still have 150 so its not a tiny wedding, but i am happy that almost everyone is very close to me or my fiance)

  9. Member
    tangt16 7 posts, Newbee @ 1:58 pm

    So I don’t have that many close friends, so on the top of my head maybe 15 people that i really want. My finance pretty much wants to invite his whole frat. My parents family friends would be like 4 people. They wouldn’t even want to invite a whole bunch of friends because its our wedding not theirs. His family? Well when I asked him if his family could contribute to the bill since my family has fallen on hard times with the economy, and he said that means we’re gonna have to be able to accomodate even more of his families friends. None of who know my name, or ever met. One asked me if they could give me a korean name because my name was too hard. Given this, I feel like his side will be packed, and mine will have 20 people tops out of a possible 150ppl(the national average so we figured this was a good number), even though its mostly my family and me that will pay for the wedding. Just to even it out, I feel like I should invite all these past friends, acquantiances (like my hs cheerleading friends, who i hate, but still sat with them for lunch everyday). Is that wrong?

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    jenny, Guest @ 1:59 pm

    i’d feel honored to get an invitation to a wedding because the happy couple thought of me…

  11. Member
    agrosses 98 posts, Worker bee @ 2:06 pm

    I completely agree with Jenny. I have been invited to a few weddings of grade school/high school friends, which I have attended (although I never brought a date despite the “plus one” on my invite – they wouldn’t know him and/or we weren’t serious enough at the time). This has led to renewed friendships and we have been better about keeping in touch (although after the fact, you can’t really “catch up” with the bride and groom the day of…). I would invite as many old friends as you could :)

  12. Member
    MightySapphire 7632 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 2:13 pm

    We have a B list, don’t feel bad! I think I was B-lister for another friend’s wedding. I ended up just sending a gift instead of attending. And it wasn’t awekward and I didn’t assume they only wanted a gift. It was nice they thought of me!!

  13. Member
    BlushingBride530 277 posts, Helper bee @ 2:19 pm

    I have old friends still listed as “indefinites,” too. In fact, I’ve pushed my inability to make decisions so far, that I even gave the addresses of my indefinite guests to the calligrapher, so their invitations will be ready to mail if I decide to send them out.

    My thought is that you can’t go wrong with sending out an invitation to an old friend. Best case scenario – they will come! Worst case – they won’t come, but you can’t blame yourself for asking.

  14. Member
    peachypear 343 posts, Helper bee @ 2:19 pm

    I’ve been invited to a couple of weddings where I was surprised to get an invitation. At first, I’m thrilled – and then I realize that I’m not really that interested in going. I’ve had a good time at the weddings and were happy for the couple, but never had a renewed friendship come from attending their wedding. But I think these were relationships that had gone their course for a reason. Whatever had made us friends years ago just wasn’t there any more. No hurt feelings, just no connection.

    We didn’t invite “indefinites.” We used a similar rule as chelseamorning. The only exception was for a couple that my husband was very close to, but had drifted from for no reason. They were ecstatic to be at the wedding, and he was so excited to see them. So basically – we invited anyone that we WANTED at the wedding.

    But we had a small-ish wedding and kept tight control on the guest list. If you have room in your guest list and would like to invite someone that you would like to be at your wedding but just haven’t spoken to for a while because life got busy, then invite them!

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    LA Style Unveiled, Guest @ 2:25 pm

    Our basic rule of thumb is: don’t invite more people than your venue can hold, even if you don’t ‘think’ everyone will come … the odds are that if you invite more than can fit in your venue, they will all miraculously show up – because of this, you have a great excuse if you get grief about not inviting certain people to your wedding …
    Concerning how we feel about being invited to a wedding when we haven’t seen nor spoken to the host for a while, we tend to lean more towards A – as long as it was someone we truly were close to and missed seeing.

  16. dorsay Member
    dorsay 2281 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:26 pm

    @nelzbels: I feel you on that, how do I only invite a few out of a relatively small group? @jenny: same here, I’d feel honored. At first I was all about an A list/B list but now I think we’re going to only do an A list.

  17. glitter Member
    glitter 986 posts, Busy bee @ 2:34 pm

    @nin: I really love your comment. Thanks for sharing!

  18. glitter Member
    glitter 986 posts, Busy bee @ 2:44 pm

    @nelzbels: Like Miss D’orsay said, I feel you. If you invite one or two, should you invite the whole group? Its tough to mess with group dynamics and the uninvited could easily feel left out!
    @HL: You are right. Being honest is very important. I tend to always think I can get back in touch with everyone. Sometimes it just isn’t going to happen.
    @tangt16: LOL. Wait, so if his family doesn’t contribute, do his parents still want to pack their guest list with people you don’t even know? I feel your pain. Mr. G’s parents are a little off in their judgment when it comes to the guest list, too. They’ve suggested things to me that I would never write on WB because it’s just too ridiculous. I love how people you’ve never met want to change your name. Fabulous! :)
    @jenny: @agrosses: This is very good to know. Thank you for your input.

  19. Member
    LzzNYC 882 posts, Busy bee @ 2:44 pm

    ahhh the guest list! i love getting invited even if i can’t go.. so with that thought i’d love to invite everybody but.. haha don’t want some to come.. :-( not in a mean way i just can’t afford it! sigh…

  20. Member
    tbanks33 71 posts, Worker bee @ 2:47 pm

    The guest list is pure evil. It can hurt the uninvited and possibly ruin friendships.

    I think it is best to have an A list only. This way you choose exactly who you would like to share your special day with.

  21. Member
    mary-alice-me 1864 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:11 pm

    I also have trouble with this! I am tempted to be of the persuasion that if I haven’t met them, they are on the B list, especially for some of FI’s friends I’ve never met. I figure that if we’ve been together for 3 years and he hasn’t seen them and I haven’t seen them, they don’t need to be invited now.

    The other complication is that our wedding will be a trip for just about everyone and I want to keep it small. So part of me doesn’t want to ask people to make the trip, and part of me wants to keep my small wedding vision.

    In the end, we’ll probably invite some old friends (invites go out in a couple of weeks!!) and be happy if they choose to come. It’s nice to receive an invitation just to know that you were thought of and desirable enough to be included.

  22. Guest Icon Guest
    Vicki, Guest @ 3:36 pm

    I have heard so many great ideas when it comes to guest lists:
    1) Both of you must have met the person for them to be on the list!! Even family members
    2) USe the cell phone rule… are they in your contacts?
    3) Divide the total guest number by 4 – so that bride/groom/parents/inlaws all have the same number available to invite
    4) Skip the guest list and elope!

  23. Member
    NixLapi 558 posts, Busy bee @ 4:17 pm

    We’re pretty much the exact opposite of what you’re describing! *lol* Our parents have their best-friends on the list, and we’re totally cool with that.

    As for old/out-of-touch friends. – we aren’t inviting any. If we haven’t seen them since we’ve been together, let alone met the other’s friends, then they aren’t on the list. Sure you may rekindle old friendships, but more than likely you will continue not to be close to these people… I know we won’t get to spend quality time with each guests on the big day, so I’d rather spend what time I do have visiting with people who really matter to me, my FI and our life together!

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    at, Guest @ 4:37 pm

    We have this problem! Although the parents thing is from my side, not FI’s. That’s an Indian thing – I don’t know about half of the people they’re inviting (and this is their PARED DOWN list!). Yikes. So because we have so many people from their list, I feel like I shouldn’t invite my “B-listers” – although FI and I made a high, low, medium priority list after we brainstormed everyone we knew and would consider inviting. We’re nixing the low priority and definitely inviting high. Medium is our B-list, I guess. Ugh, so annoying!

  25. Member
    suzanno 2683 posts, Sugar bee @ 4:48 pm

    We had all these issues! As for old friends, we invited a lot of them. We both have friends that we see only every couple of years, but still consider very close – we email, phone, and send Christmas presents. I think it’s clear when somebody is still your friend even when there is a distance factor. And it’s clear when they’re really not – when neither of you really bothers to keep up on what the other is doing. You do lose friends as time goes on – whether because your lives change, or because either you or they move away, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    We also dealt with the group thing. In a couple of cases we invited the whole group, even though we are more close to a few of the people than to the others – but we feel like we would really like to do more with all of them. In the cases where we really only see some people because they are friends of other people – and we honestly can’t say that we would go out of our way to be closer with the rest of the group, we didn’t invite them. It doesn’t seem to have caused any friction at all. Trust me, people know when they are close to you and when they’re not, and most of the people you’re really not close to might feel flattered to get an invitation but won’t feel slighted if they don’t.

  26. Member
    agrosses 98 posts, Worker bee @ 5:22 pm

    @NixLapi: I just went and visited the first (oh so precious) child of my best friend from grade school. I wouldn’t have called her when I was in town (this time or previously) if I hadn’t been invited to the wedding. I can’t stress how much it meant to be invited (I went out of my way when out of town to meet the groom), and to continue to be part of their lives.

  27. Member
    HistoryBride 409 posts, Helper bee @ 6:19 pm

    We definitely had that .. or, at least I did. See, my family was part of the same small church for my entire life, up until this past year. Many of these families watched me grow up and played a really big part in my life. However, I kind of split with the church my senior year of high school (I just think differently than many of them do), and haven’t really looked back.

    So … they were a huge part of my life, but I haven’t talked to them in four years and now my parents don’t even have to see them on a weekly basis. Are they invited? We ended up deciding against inviting any but the few couples that my parents often got together with outside of church. It was hard and I’m still a bit iffy about it, but I think it’s for the best. (plus, another 50 people would be very difficult to fit!)

  28. Member
    HistoryBride 409 posts, Helper bee @ 6:21 pm

    PS. We definitely split the target number into 3 and gave each group (my parents, his parents, and us) a target of 50. We only had about 30 to invite, so we donated some extra to our parents to cover family 😀

  29. Member
    lazybride 63 posts, Worker bee @ 7:46 pm

    i had to be realistic. of course we have people in the past whom we were close to once upon a time. i tried to look in past (2-3 years) and to the future (5-10 years). i’m not inviting everyone whose wedding i’ve been to esp if i don’t really keep in touch with them now. also i tried to think of it in their shoes…like if they came, would they have fun? meaning, are these people who are already invited that they will know and have fun with? because i’ve been to weddings where i was really bored because i didn’t know others. hope that helps.

  30. bruschetta Member
    bruschetta 5565 posts, Bee Keeper @ 9:04 pm

    Coworkers are my big variable, as I’m currently looking (actively) for a new job!

  31. Member
    driftslikesmoke 1224 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:37 pm

    We make a decision based on the very wise advice of my FH’s aunt who had an oversized wedding with an unlimited guest list. She told us that we should choose our list based on who we planned to have in our lives in ten years. If that means forgoing the coworkers we see every day now but aren’t connected to in favor of those who we only see occasionally but plan to keep in touch with for the long term, that’s what we’re going to do. :)

  32. Member
    mrspaetz 3812 posts, Honey bee @ 11:54 pm

    we ended up being extremely brutal and now have a guest list of 40 😛

  33. Member
    honeymyheart 764 posts, Busy bee @ 1:42 am

    i was just thinking about my guest list! one of my really close high school friends just got in touch with me, after 4 or so years, and we’re reconnecting. right now my fiance and i have decided we’d stick to inviting people who we talk to on a regular basis. regular meaning once a month.

  34. Guest Icon Guest
    Valerie, Guest @ 1:59 am

    How I feel you on this one! It’s a wedding-related topic that I’ve mulled over more than any other, believe it or not. In the end, I decided to invite them. I am very sentimental and even if we’re not active in eachothers’ lives, they’re part of who I turned out to be, and sentimentality got the best of me. When I asked for a friend’s advice he said “I know they still think of you,” and that, although simple, made me realize that even if they didn’t come, I wanted them to know that I wanted them to. We’re getting married April 4, and while most guests can’t make our out-of-town wedding (an especial point of guest-list contention), most expressed their interest and happiness. In the end, that’s all I really needed.

  35. Member
    Tstew 109 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:35 am

    I understand… We are going through this now. My fiance and I have just set a time as to when we last talk to the person. If they don’t fit the timeline then we move them to the “B” list and if someone can’t come, then they will get an invite.

    If I’m invited to a wedding, I always try to go but if I can’t I will just send a nice gift..

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