This is your special day; no one can blame you for wanting to share it with the world. But all the same, one of the most common problems a bride faces is a wedding guest list that extends from here to Timbuktu. Most of us simply cannot afford to host that many people, so the only course of action is to determine who to cut from the wedding list. You’re bursting at the seams and cannot bear to leave anyone out, but remember: It doesn’t mean you don’t care about them! You just need to have priorities.
One way to trim down the list is the methodical, logical approach. Start by grabbing a piece of paper and creating two columns: label one “Must-haves,” and the other, well, “Others!” Grab your fiancé and work down through your guest list, adding everyone you absolutely must invite to your wedding to the first column. Most of this wedding list should be close family and your absolute best friends. Remember that it defeats the entire purpose if you decide you “must have” three-quarters of your total list.
Once all the most important guests are in the first column, you are left with the rest over in column B. Run down every single name on the list with your fiancé. How well do you really know this person? When was the last time you saw them? Would they be offended at all if they did not get an invite to your wedding? How likely would they be to attend if invited? Would their being there significantly impact your enjoyment of that special day? If necessary, you can create even more columns to continue to weed down the list until it gets small enough.
If playing a mock reality show game with your wedding list lacks appeal for you, consider narrowing the overall scope of your wedding to reduce the size of the wedding guest list. Make it adults-only: not only do you not have to account for children, but you can weed out some less committed potential guests might change their mind if they have to find care for the little ones. Scrap any old school or work friends you are unlikely to see again anytime soon; odds are that they will not miss the invitation as much.
Cut down on the friends-of-friends, even from your parents (unless they’re footing the bill; in that case, telling them to leave their friends at home might not go over as well!). Eliminate the “plus ones” for your single friends (and seat them together so you may even have wedding sparks go flying). Some of these guest-cutting measures might seem harsh, but the fact of the matter is, guest-cutting measures double as some of the most effective cost-cutting measures.
But let’s say you haven’t made out a wedding guest list yet. How do you go about avoiding these time-consuming and difficult exclusion decisions in the first place? Getting together with your spouse-to-be and building the guest list together, while keeping the limitations in mind at every turn, can keep it from ever being a problem – and a guest list composed conservatively from the beginning can save a lot of money from an oversized list trimmed down to your maximum possible size.
The first step is to decide on an ideal size. Not an absolute largest possible size, but an ideal size, be it 30 or 300. If someone else is footing the bill, consult them on an approximate number. This frames your discussion and might cause you to rethink who you have so far as you get close. Remember that it is customary to give a number of guest invitations to both sets of parents, so double check how many invitations each side is expecting so you avoid unnecessary conflict in an already difficult process.
Pick categories to exclude from the get-go, such as ex-girlfriends and boyfriends or predominantly business connections, even if you are on friendly terms. Look back at the guest cutting advice for some other categories you might want to exclude from the get-go (children, plus ones, and the like). Most couples have a few people whom they feel obligated to invite even if they may not have otherwise – say a close-but-not-too-close friend who invited you to their wedding. Consider leaving these people off the main list, but inviting them an open house or other get-together to soothe the social wounds.
In the end, this day is about you and your love alone. It is more important for you than it is for any of the wedding guests you are considering inviting. Just be happy!