How to Narrow Down Your Guest List

Photo by Coppersmith

You said yes! You've told all of your closest family and friends, started your secret wedding board on Pinterest and can't stop showing off your new bling. But before you can make the BIG decisions like securing a venue, setting a date and finalizing your budget is making your guest list.

You may be surprised how your small, intimate affair can all-too-quickly turn into a huge bash. Deciding who (and who not) to invite may be your first glimpse into the token "wedding planning stress." Between co-workers, parents' friends and extended family, your guest list can quickly get out of control, and making everyone happy is going to be tough if you're trying to keep your numbers down. 

We've put together our best advice for trimming down your guest list in a fair and methodical way. 

Increased headcount also means increased expenses for your Save the Dates, invitations, postage, programs, favors, catering (that's a big one), dessert, bar service, chairs, tables, linens, floral, menus, etc... When all is said and done, each guest may end up costing you between $75-150. If your budget has been pre-determined prior to finalizing a guest list, determine how many guests your budget can accommodate and trim down from there. 

If you are building your guest list without a budget in mind, it may be a good idea to list everyone you can think to invite and then cost out your favorite venue and catering as a 'worst case scenario.'

Photo by Kendra Oxendale

Discuss Parents' Friends
Keep in mind who may be contributing financially to your wedding; if one or more parent is chipping in, their say in guest list should be taken seriously. They are helping you throw an amazing party, and they would love the enjoy it with the company of their friends, too.

If parents are not contributing, but have requested several friends that you do not have a personal connection with, sit down and have an open discussion. Confront the issue head-on, and explain your concerns over budget. This may be a good time to calculate an estimated cost per guest and ask them to contribute that cost for each of their friends. 

Photo by Donae Cotton

Photo by Graddy Photography

Make Rules
To help take emotions out of your guest list, make hard and fast rules to determine who makes the list. Make rules that work for YOU. Examples: 

  • Guests only get a "Plus One" if they're engaged or living together

  • No Second Cousins

  • No kids under the age of 12

  • Co-workers that I hang out with outside of work

  • Co-workers that are currently in my department

Now that you have rules, it will be easier to explain to your guests or family members why you decided what you did. 

Photo by Kendra Oxendale

Photo by George Street

Reflect on Friendships
If your "friends" list is getting too long, thing about each of your friendships. How long has it been since you had a significant interaction (i.e. not on Facebook)? Have you seen them in the last year? Have you seen them 1-on-1, not just in a group setting? Have you hung out since college? Remember, too -- just because they invited you to their wedding doesn't mean you have to reciprocate. 

Photo by Scott and Hannah Photography

No matter what, do what feels right for you. Your wedding is the most incredible opportunity to celebrate with your favorite people -- ENJOY IT!

Photo by Coppersmith

Photo by Graddy Photography