The age-old question of who to invite to your wedding is one that plagues most all engaged couples, and is one that destination wedding couples need to answer even sooner than most! I should know – I’m a destination wedding travel expert and recent bride. . . and I’ve seen it all. So, how do you decide who to invite to your wedding!? 

Today I’m going to break down the usual suspects of a wedding guest list (plus a few more you won’t want to forget!), and then help you narrow down (some might say cut down.. With a machete) your guest list. After all, it’s your big day, you want all the most important people in your lives to be there with you.. But probably only them, right? 

Okay, let’s get into it!

Who to Invite to a Destination Wedding

In general, these are some common groups of people you’ll want to consider inviting to your wedding. Later we’ll narrow it down, specifically for a destination wedding, but first let’s start broad and get EVERYONE you want to consider onto a list. 

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This one is pretty obvious, if you’re lucky enough to have a family who loves and supports you and your future spouse. But who in your family should you invite?? If you’re like me, you might have a MASSIVE family, and inviting literally all of them could break the bank. 

Here’s who I suggest to add to your list, but of course, with all of these suggestions, take them with a grain of salt, because you know your family and circle of friends better than I do!

  • Immediate family: parents of all kinds, siblings of all kinds, grandparents
  • Great-Grandparents, if you’re lucky enough to have those around
  • Aunts, Uncles, and first cousins – if they’re people you see, even just at family gatherings.. Like, um.. Weddings!
  • Great Aunts, Uncles, and second cousins, again, if those folks are in your lives, even just for weddings and funerals. Stick them on the list for now.


This one feels obvious, but if you’re a social butterfly, it may take some work to really get everyone in your life down on paper. You’ll want to consider friends from all the different areas and chapters of your lives. Here are some types of friends to consider inviting to your wedding:

  • Grade school friends, if you’re lucky enough to still have some of those you speak to, rather than the kind you avoid in the grocery store when you’re home for the holidays! 😉
  • High school friends – same here, if you’re lucky like me and have a few of those friends in your life, rather than the kind that send you FB invites to buy their line of lotions or whatever 🙃
  • College friends – from all the schools you attended, from all the different organizations you were in, and old roommates
  • Sports team, club, or hobby friends  – for me, this meant my soccer friends! SEVERAL of my wedding guests were girls I played soccer with for literal decades! 
  • Work friends – if you have any that you actually like and want to be there for your big day. Skip this if not.. It’s YOUR WEDDING DAY. You shouldn’t feel judged by water-cooler-Karen on your wedding day.
  • Neighbors or other community friends that you’ve made in your post-school years

Friends of the Family

We all have those – maybe they’re your GodParents, if you have those, maybe neighbors from when you were growing up that your parents still keep in touch with. Often, couples’ parents’ best friends make it onto the wedding guest list. Or you might have family friends from church or something similar. 

Honestly, family friends could be anyone, and you’ll know better than anyone who’s who, and whether they should be considered for your coveted destination wedding guest list.

Obligation Invites

Okay, let’s talk about obligation invites for a minute… and before you jump to conclusions and think I sound like a judgemental jerk, think about it. Are there are already some people on your list from the categories above that made you roll your eyes, or think, ‘well, we’ve got to invite ___”?  My guess is that there’s probably at least one. 

So some of the people you listed above might fall into this category.. And if anyone immediately  gives you that vibe, I’d suggest moving them down into this category. Trust your gut. 

Either way, you’ve probably got a few more people in mind who may not have fallen into one of the previous categories of possible wedding guests, but you really feel like you need to invite them. Rather than stressing out, feeling guilty, or trying to make a decision about each person right now, just write their names on the list – brain dump style – and finish compiling the big, broad list. It’s only a first draft.

Ask Your Parents or Other VIP Guests

Before you truly ‘finalize’ this first draft list of possible wedding guests, I encourage you to ask your parents, grandparents, siblings, or any other “VIP” guests if they have anyone they really, really want you to invite. Of course, that should still be your decision in the end, but it’s polite, and will certainly mean a lot to the people who raised you to know that their opinions count, at least a little. And if they really have anyone they want to share your celebrations with, it will mean a lot to them to have that opportunity. 

How to decide who to invite to your wedding!

How to Narrow Down Your Wedding Guest List

Now that you’ve compiled the complete list of everyone you two might possibly want to invite to your destination wedding, it’s time to narrow down the list and decide who’s really going to get one of those sought-after invitations! 

Sure, this might seem a little bit cold, but honestly, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. This is YOUR big day, and you should be surrounded by the people you love and love you back. And remember, your guest count (of people who actually attend your destination wedding) is going to be one of the biggest determining factors in the final cost of your destination wedding.

Here are some ways to narrow down your wedding guest list, or things to consider while making the cuts:

Are You Inviting Kids To Your Destination Wedding?

This is a massively important question for destination wedding couples to consider, way more so than traditional, at-home wedding couples. This is because when choosing an all-inclusive resort for your destination wedding, you’ll have to choose which type of resort you want to host your group and your wedding. These are basically all the types of resorts:

  • Adults-only resort (most are 18+, some are 16+, 17+, but it depends)
  • Family-friendly resort 
  • Family-friendly resort with an adults-only section
  • A resort ‘compound’ with 2 or more sister-properties next to each other, where some properties or areas are family-friendly, whiles others are adults-only

That’s a huge decision that comes right at the beginning of planning your destination wedding.. And it’s nearly impossible to reverse once you’ve get the ball rolling and start signing contracts for wedding packages and room block contracts. So it’s super important to make the decision pretty early on.. Will you invite kids to your destination wedding? 

Who has kids?

First, do you have kids, or do any of the VIP guests (your siblings, bridal party members, etc) have kids? Do they actually want to travel with them, or would they prefer a well-deserved, kid-free vacation and celebration? 

Next, think about the rest of your guest list. Do any of those folks have kids that they would.. Or would not like to bring?

Finally, and maybe most importantly: think about the vibe of your dream wedding, as well as the vibe of the resort. Are there kids there? Is it a very adulty vibe? Want to have wholesome dances with all your family around? Prefer a rager and people shotgunning beers? Prefer something romantic and luxurious, with nary a child in sight? 

It’s completely up to you, because it’s. your. wedding. 

Would you vacation with them?

Sure, you love your work friends.. But would you want to go on vacation with them? Does hanging out at the beach, or grabbing a drink at the pool bar sound like a great time, or an awkward time? 

You’re the only one who can answer that, so consider the setting in which you’ll have not only your wedding itself, but the days surrounding your wedding. While it’s certainly not your job to babysit your guests while they’re at the resort for your wedding.. You probably want to hang out with them, at least a little! After all, they’re going to pay money, book flights, and take time off of work and school to go down to your chosen destination and celebrate your love!  So.. do you want to hang out with them there?

If the answer is a resounding ‘NO!’ then you’ve got your answer. If it’s a ‘yes’ – keep them on the list!

Consider Your Wedding Budget

Remember, many of your destination wedding expenses are going to be based on the number of guests who attend your wedding. So of course, your budget is going to be a huge factor in determining your guest list!

In fact, one of the reasons that many couples choose to have a destination wedding is to cut down a bit on their guest list and make it a more intimate experience for those people whose presence they truly value!… and it happens to be a bit cheaper once they cut that list down.

I’ve got more information about wedding expenses here, but typically you can expect to pay around $250-300 per person for your wedding (ish.. Of course this all depends on a bunch of factors like where you host your wedding the all-inclusive resort you choose, the wedding package you choose, and then any upgrades you have, such as floral arrangements, food, etc.

So, while you’re starting to narrow down your official guest list, think about the people you’re inviting, and whether or not you’re willing to pay $350-300 per person for them to enjoy your wedding festivities. Some of the people on your guest list will call for some tough decisions, sure. But if you two are honest with yourselves, at least some of those folks will be an easy call one way or another.

A Helpful Statistic About Destination Wedding Guests

While finalizing your guest list and planning your destination wedding budget, keep this helpful statistic in mind: On average, about 60% of destination wedding invitees usually end up actually traveling to the destination wedding they were invited to. Of course, you know your group better than anyone, but that’s a helpful stat to kick around for now.

Consider Creating a “B Team” for a Second Round of Invitations

That’s right, another fun trick you can keep up your sleeve when finalizing your destination wedding guest list is keeping kind of a ‘B team’  – or a secondary list of guests you’ll invite if enough people RSVP ‘no’ and don’t come to your wedding. You can call these guys (or just some of these guys!  There are no rules here!) up from the minors to fill in the gaps if there are any later on. 

The real key here is that this is your wedding, and you can do absolutely whatever makes you and your future spouse happy. That’s the whole point!!

Nailed down the guest list and ready to start planning your wedding?

If you’re ready to start planning your picture-perfect destination wedding, I’ve got you covered! Just click here to schedule a complimentary consultation call, where we’ll get to know each other, you’ll learn about my services and ask any questions you have, and I’ll learn all about your wedding budget, dreams, and vision!

Can’t wait to get on a call with you and start planning your big day!

Learn More or Book a Complimentary Discovery Call Today!

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It includes the best things to do, who the destination is good (or not so good) for, and legal wedding requirements of each country.

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