Q: How do I trim our guest list when we’re close to everybody but can only invite 60 or 70 people?
My fiance is from a huge family and I have a huge family. How can we keep our guest list to 150-200 people?
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-Questions via our Woman Getting Married Facebook group
A: OK so we decided to combine both of these questions because they are essentially asking the same thing, which is “how the hell do we keep our guest list management AND in our wedding budget?” Which yes, can feel like a completely impossible mission.
I wish I could tell you that I have an easy answer to this extremely common problem, but the truth is no matter which way you cut, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. But we’re here to tell you that that’s OK. You’re allowed! Weddings are expensive and there has to be a limit. That’s just the way it is! If you follow this advice you’ll realize that while cutting your guest list is hard, it’s NOT impossible. And it will also save you a ton of headaches AND money in the long run.
Whether you’re hoping to limit your guest list to 70 or 200, use these tips and tricks to help you cut your guest list to the number you and your budget can afford.
Step 1: Start by Making an A and B List
An A List are those people that 1,000% have to be at your wedding. These are your parents, your grandparents, and your BFF’s to start. Be extremely tough when you make this list…we can’t stress this enough. This list should only consist of those people who you could in no way imagine getting married without (including their long-term partners, spouses , and children (or note…see below on that, too). And we mean ZERO.
Next, create a B list for guests you would like to invite IF AND ONLY IF you had the space. A wedding B list will most likely include distant cousins, co-workers, school friends, plus any +1s that perhaps didn’t make the A list (like your brother’s newish girlfriend).
Another thing to note is you’ll want to make sure you give your parents and future in-laws a number of guests they can invite, which can vary from 4 to 24+ people depending on your target guest list size. Typically if one set of parents is paying for the wedding they should be given a larger number of guests to invite, but if you’re paying or both parents are splitting it should be the same amount. We suggest creating your A list first then seeing how much room you have and talking to your parents about who makes THEIR A list and how many people you can reasonable add.
Step 2: Consider Having an Adults-Only Wedding
Having a child-free wedding could save precious spots on your guest list. For instance at our wedding even though I have over 6 nieces and nephews I love just on my side of the family, I knew our guest list was tight and that, lets be honest, they might not enjoy the wedding as much as older guests. Plus, I wanted my siblings to be able to have fun without worrying about putting kids to bed, so we had a no-kids policy.
Step 3: Eliminate Plus-Ones…For Now
If you’re tight on space one of the easiest ways to save space is by only offering a +1 to those friends and family members who are either engaged, married, living together, or having been dating for more than 6 months to a year. While technically you should give +1s to your wedding party members, I personally think if your list is tight it’s OK to use the same +1 rule applied above.
Step 4: You Don’t HAVE to Invite Co-workers
Yes, we all have that co-worker we heart and love having lunch with. But unless you’re hanging out with them enough to call them a good friend, they’ll understand if you tell them you had a very small guest list and could only invite family and a small number of friends. Tell them you would have loved to have invited them, but that you hope to celebrate with a fun dinner or drinks before or after, instead. BTW this applies to your boss, too!
Step 5: Cut, Cut, Cut
Once you make your A and B lists, go back over each and eliminate any friends and family members you haven’t seen or spoken to in over 3-4 years. If you want to add them to a C list, great, but otherwise they don’t make your guest list. The only exception would be if these are your parents friends and they are part of their set guest number (see above).
Trust me when I tell you that if you follow each of these steps, you’ll be able to logically cut your guest list down to the size you need it to be. And while you might still worry about offending somebody you didn’t get to invvite, just know that it’s better to have to explain to your third cousin Mary why you have to keep it small then go into credit card debt for a guest list you can’t afford.
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