Who Should I Invite to Our Family Reunion?

Who all do you invite to your family reunion? Your family, of course! Depending on how big your family reunion budget is will determine just how far you extend the term “family.” Family can mean your immediate family, extended family, in-laws, close friends and even neighbors who are a big part of your life.

Let’s face it, it’s not always realistic to invite everyone you want to under the sun, and it can mean hurt feelings. It’s not personal! Family reunion invitations can be tough. It’s a good idea to first determine the number of people you can reasonably afford to come to the reunion and go from there. Who should be on the list?

Who To Invite

When drafting your initial guest list, start by listing your immediate family, your parents, in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. If this number comes close to the number of people you would like at the reunion, then it’s probably a good idea to stop there. Also take into account that your cousins may have married and had kids of their own, so they may be offended if you say that only they themselves can go–and it might not be very fair.

If you still have a lot of room to fill on that guest list, then go on to list whomever else you’d like to attend, but make sure it’s still actually family even if they are very distant. After all, family reunions are all about families reuniting.

Who Not To Invite

As much as it may hurt or offend someone, and as much as you may consider a friend or neighbor a family member, chances are, the rest of your family does not, so it’s best to stick with your bloodline.

  • Best friends and neighbors: Best friends and neighbors are for house parties, not family reunions, and can be welcome at any other type of gathering. A family reunion is a special time that should be reserved for family alone.
  • New significant others: If you’re in a new relationship, or someone in the family is, the new boyfriend or girlfriend should probably stay back at home for the family reunion. Before you have the time to get to know each other, do you really want to introduce them to the whole family?
  • Family rivalries: Aunt Linda and Uncle Dave had an ugly divorce two years ago and can’t stand being in the same room as one another. Your sister Jennifer argues with your cousin Katie every time they see each other. In cases like this, consider inviting one or the other. Rather than choosing who to invite, consult with each person, as one may not even be able to attend the event.
  • Ex’s significant others: Remember Aunt Linda and Uncle Dave? Well turns out, they’ve both found someone else. It’s probably best they don’t bring their new love, even if they have gotten remarried, as it could create a firestorm at the family reunion.
  • Bad apples: Many family trees have apples who have fallen far from the tree. When you go to address those family reunion invitations, it’s probably a good idea to leave out anyone who causes problems in the family, anyone who isolates themselves from the pack, and anyone with an uncontrolled drug or alcohol problem. Inviting such people, even if they are your blood, can cause problems at the reunion and make it a less-enjoyable time for the rest.
  • In-Laws: There are some rules about which in-laws to invite. If it’s your side of the family that’s hosting the family reunion, your spouse’s parents or siblings probably shouldn’t be on the guest list. Obviously every family is different and maybe you’re all very close, but otherwise in-laws of the side that isn’t hosting should stay home.

How To Address Invites

When addressing family reunion invitations, try to list the guests as a family. Say you are the Watson family, then you would receive an invitation explicitly addressed to “The Watson Family.”

Often times, a question will come up whether or not a family member can bring a guest, often times being a boyfriend or girlfriend. In the wording on the invitations themselves, it’s a good idea to make it clear that only family members are welcome to attend. You can approach this a few different ways:

  • To keep things fair, only members of the family are welcome to attend.
  • Due to budget restrictions, we ask that you only RSVP for family members.
  • As much as we would love to meet everyone important in your lives, this reunion is reserved solely for members of the Watson family.

Try your best not to sound rude or snippy with a family member; all you can really do is explain that if you allowed one person to bring an unrelated guest, then you would have to allow everyone else to do the same, and it’s just not feasible! Family members should understand.

3 thoughts on “Who Should I Invite to Our Family Reunion?”

  1. Let’s say, the family reunion is on Mrs.watson’s side of family.That means that her son’s kids,their cousins,who are not Watson’s,but are related to her son on his wife’s side are invited,right?

  2. Hey Teri!

    I dislike giving “it depends” kinds of answers, but a lot of it comes down to the intentions and the family dynamics. Strictly speaking, if it were a “Watson” family reunion, then I’d think cousins on Mrs. Watson’s Daughter-in-law’s side might feel a bit out of place if the families aren’t very close. If it were a joint family reunion for both families, or if both families are just ordinarily very close, then I see no reason why all can’t join in. I hope this helps clarify things. 🙂

  3. What if the family reunion is on the father’s side of the family? He has two kids, one that is his biological daughter and one that is his son, but was adopted as a toddler but has known him since a baby and doesn’t have a biological father?

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