Advice & Ideas Articles Education/Information

Knock knock! Can I come, too? How to trim your wedding guest list.

We all have those people we grew up with, went to school with and those we became adults with in college. Clearly we would love for them all to come to our weddings. What fun would it be to have them present to celebrate the beginning of our marriage.  But, the truth is, we simply can’t afford for all of them to join us.

So, how do you know who to cut from your wedding guest list and who to keep without hurting anyone’s feelings?  How do you handle friends and distant family members who are expecting invitations and your budget just doesn’t allow for them to make the cut?  Here are a few tips and questions to ask yourself that might help you make a decision:

1.  Here at the Donnie Brown office, we don’t like the A List, B List system.  With social media nowadays, your guests will know if they were on the B list if they receive their invitation or Save The Date weeks later than others.  And nothing says, “i don’t really care about you more than being placed on the B list. And what fun is it to then have those people show up to your wedding with an attitude. NOT! We advise our couples to make a Will Come, Won’t Come, and Might Come list.  This will help making a more realistic estimate of how many you will actually have the day of. Every person who is submitting names to the list is responsible for this calculation on their spreadsheets. This way you will have a rough idea of your count from the beginning.

2.  Weddings cost A LOT.  We all know that.  They can run anywhere from a minimum of $200 per guest for a simple wedding and go up from there. Ask yourself… would you send this person $200 in the mail?  Because that’s how much you’re spending on them to come to your event.

3.  When’s the last time to you talked to them or went out to dinner with them?  If you haven’t talked to this person in the last few years, you could probably cut them from the list.  They should understand.  You’re not that close anymore.  It’s not like they’re going to call you up anyway and have the nerve to be like, “Hey, I know we haven’t talked in years, but I’m hurt that you didn’t invite me to your wedding.”

4.  What if I want to cut someone, while inviting a mutual friend? Again, when’s the last time you had a genuine conversation with them or had a meal with them?  They’re adults.  They’ll get over it.  When they get married, or if they’re already married, they’ll understand that we’re all on a budget.

5.  Limit the amount of plus ones.  If your guest isn’t in a serious long-term relationship by the time you send your save the dates, invite them solo.  If their relationship happens to turn into one by the time your wedding date comes around, just let them know, “Sorry, but when we made our list, we didn’t have you down for a plus one.  With our budget and venue, we could only invite so many.  We’d love to meet your boyfriend/girlfriend in the future though.”

6.  What if your guests are RSVP’ing for too many people?  Pick up the phone and call them (or text).  Let me know you don’t have room for guests of guests.  Be nice about it, but don’t back down.

7.  Have an adults-only reception.  Cutting out children and teenagers is another way to keep the list down.

8.  As much as it is your day, it is a big day for your parents, too, and they want to invite some of their friends.  Make sure to have a hard conversation with them about how many they can invite.  Traditionally, the couple gets half the guest list and each set of parents get a quarter. Divide the count up and give each person submitting names a number they can invite including plus ones. Leave it to them to cut their list.

Be prepared to have some awkward conversations.  Again, let your guests (or not guests) that with your budget and venue selection, you were only able to invite a handful of people.     And remember, every guest costs money. You have to weigh the value of their attendance to the overall budget. Don’t expect to spend $20,000 on your wedding and then include 200 people on the list. You won’t even be able to afford food and beverage for that many people in that budget.

Leave a comment below if you have stories or tips about how you are doing it differently.


Photo Credit: