(Tactfully) Trimming Your Oversized Guest List

Wedding invite
Published March 12th, 2013

Finalizing the guest list is one of the most daunting tasks for brides. You want to share your special moment with everyone you know, and the thought of cutting someone from “the list” seems ruthless. But reality will eventually set in. You simply can’t host that many guests (for one reason or another) and trimming that list is a necessary (yet overwhelming) task.

Get out your sharpie – here are a few tips for making this a smooth and successful process.

Set Aside Time to Do This with Only Your Fiancé
Make this a private priority when first starting to plan. Set aside a few hours alone with your fiancé to plan the list (a bottle of wine always helps!). This is a decision for the two of you to make together. When families and friends get involved at the beginning, the list often grows out of control. Be firm and clear with family or friends that this is a personal process, not a political one, and any additions can be discussed after you have trimmed it to the necessary size. Start with a small list and allow for additions later. This will save you a lot of time and stress. It is your wedding. Invite the people that you care about most, not that you feel obligated to invite.

Organize Your List
Go over your list and categorize each guest as “A” or “B”. The “A” guests are absolute must invite guests, your closest friends and family. The “B” list is for those remaining guests. There should be only a few “A”’s and lots of “B”’s to start. Don’t put too much thought into it. Trust your instincts. Your guests will never see this list.

Get Picky
Take your “B” list and start to ask yourself this series of questions. It should help you cross off names with confidence.

  • How close are you to this person?
  • When was the last time you saw or spoke to them?
  • Are you only inviting them because they invited you to their wedding?
  • Would you be offended if you didn’t get an invite to their wedding?
  • Would having them there make your wedding better?
  • Are you planning on seeing this person again in the future?
  • Are they part of your high school/college/sorority group but not a close friend?

Once you get over the list a few times the process should become easier.

Make Your Wedding Adult-Only
If your list is overflowing with large families and second cousins, consider making your wedding an 18+ event. Most guests with children are familiar with this arrangement and very understanding. If there are problems, consider offering childcare services at a nearby alternative location. This may seem like an extra expense but will save you money in the long run.

Encourage Your Single Friends to Come Sans Guest
Many of your single friends will be relieved that they don’t have to worry about finding a date. Let them know that all your, and your fiance’s, friends will be there without dates. They won’t need to sit on the sidelines during the dancing. Without being too obvious, seat your single friends together during dinner and encourage mixing and mingling. Maybe you’ll be doing a toast at your no-longer-single friend’s wedding in the future!

For younger guests who are not in a serious relationship, you can apply the Rule of Three…. 1) The couple must be dating for more than 6 months at the time of invitations, 2)must be engaged, and 3)must be older than 21 years of age. They must meet 2 of the 3 criteria to make the list!

Easy Explanation…
If you feel compelled to do so, you can always explain to the few who question your guest list that the venue has space limitations you have to work within. We are happy to help justify the decision.

In the end, trust your instincts and be confident in your decision. Don’t feel bad about cutting people off your list that you don’t have a strong connection with. Your business associates, distant relatives, and high school friends will be happy that you are getting married. But they are not likely assuming they will attend your celebration. As excited as many will be for your impending nuptials, they may also be a bit relieved not to attend due to the cost of gifts, accommodations, and travel. And remember that an oversized guest list quickly drains your budget, time and your energy. A smaller guest list will allow you to have the wedding you envision, surrounded by the people you care about the most, with time and resources to share with them all.