How to Trim Your Wedding Guest List

Posted on
May 1, 2020


Invite Your Inner Circle of Family & Friends to Reduce Expenses

  • Trimming your guest list is one of the best ways to save money on your wedding.
  • Focus on both sides family and friends who matter to you the most, and who have been there for you in good times and bad.
  • An average before COVID-19 was 70% - 75% of who was invited to attend. For example, if you invited 200 total guests, that would average to 140 - 150 people to attend, (or 70 to 75 couples).

Communicate budgets at the beginning

  • Communicate with each other, and with your families about budgets before signing any agreements.
  • If your parents are contributing financially, they should be able to have a voice to be included with who is invited.
  • Try to make across-the-board and clear-cut decisions on who to include or eliminate (invitee both sides aunts and uncles, yet eliminate third generation cousins that you haven't seen or talked to in 15 years as an example).
  • Who has the larger family, and would they be willing to pay more for their family VIPs to all be included?
  • If your parents want to invite 30 friends, don't limit the other side to only inviting 20 friends, be fair.

Make an extensive guest list including your fiance, both sets of parents, then trim

  • Compile an initial wedding guest list based on your proposed guest list and budget determined above.
  • Compile lists broken down in categories ("A" List MUST invite, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, wedding party, wedding party +1s, co-workers, college friends, high school friends, "B" list, etc.) so when you are arranging your final master guest list it is easier to eliminate duplication, plus will help when assigning table arrangements later.
  • Any cuts should be made across-the-board, with clear-cut distinctions throughout. For example, you may invite all aunts and uncles, yet eliminate distant relatives who haven't been involved in your life.

Limit Your Plus Ones (+1) of Family & Friends

  • Common courtesy dictates if your friend or family member lives with, or is in a serious relationship with someone, their "+1" should be invited, and you most likely have their name for your guest list.
  • Unattached guests who don't have is fiance or long-term commitment don't automatically get thre +1.
  • If your friend or family member has a different +1 on an ongoing basis, this doesn't mean their +1 should be invited. Yet before making this decision, communicate with this person versus assuming. If they can't provide the name of their +1, chances are they may not care if this +1 is invited. Yet, if they do not know anyone else invited, they may feel out of place if they attend alone, so a +1 would be necessary in that situation for inclusion.

Pick your battles

  • If you invite "Shelby", then you would need to invite the rest of your sorority sisters. If putting her on your list means you need to add 20 more, evaluate prior to adding.
  • Co-workers are a blast at lunch and work events, yet if you don't hang out with them on weekends socially, this would be an area to cut. The exception would be your boss or assistant, whom you may invite without automatically setting off an office-invite chain reaction.
  • You may win the battle over not inviting your three great aunts, yet if it means you and your mom aren't speaking any longer, you've lost. It may be better to give in on a few guests so you may lower your stress level.
  • If you decide to not invite children, you need to think this through and make it consistent (i.e., it applies to everyone). Try to lessen reactions by communicating with the affected people prior to sending out invitations, since the parents may not want to attend without their children being invited, since they're family.
  • Prevent guests from multiplying. When you invite two people, and when you receive their reply, those two people turned into seven people. Have the person closer to them make a phone call and let them know your guest list is limited, and you won't be able to accommodate the five extras.

"A" List and "B" List

  • If either side won't budge on their list, you choose an "A" list of people who are your closest family and friends.  Compile your "B" list, made up of all those "it would be nice to invite, yet..."
  • Have your RSVP date be a minimum of 4 weeks before your wedding date.
  • Send your "A" list invites a little earlier (10 weeks before your wedding date), and when you receive regrets, send out your top "B" list accordingly.
  • Make sure your "A" list and "B" list don't intersect in family and friends, since they will notice, then revert to "pick your battles" above.
  • Send your "B" list out at least 6 weeks before your wedding date, so they still have time to RSVP by your 4 week request.
  • Call, email, or text any of your "A" list guests as you get closer to your deadlines, since your "Yes" RSVPs will come in first, and your "maybes" will trickle in later.

Posted on
May 1, 2020