12 Wedding Tips to Cut Your Guest List in Half

You just got engaged!!! Everyone and their mother has come out of the woodwork to congratulate you and ask you about your upcoming nuptials. As a Wedding and Event Planner in Memphis, Tennessee here is my wedding tips to help you create the perfect size guest list for your budget. 

photo by shelby renee photo

photo by shelby renee photo

1. Consider the costs

Break it down. There are fixed costs (DJ, Photographer, Venue) and there are variable costs (food, rentals, stationary). The quickest way to save on a wedding is cut down the number of people to make the variable costs cheaper.

If 8 people fit at a table add up 1/8 of a table, 1/8 table cloth, 1/8 centerpiece, along with 1 chair, 1 plate, 1 set of silverware. 1 serving of food & cake, 3-4 drinks, programs, invitations, favors, etc. At the end of the day go through your list of people and if you aren't willing to spend that money on that person, they probably shouldn't be on your list. 

2. This is not the day to meet anyone

There are only so many hours in a wedding day. Normally about 2-3 are consumed with mingling with your guests. There will be so many people who come that you want to catch up with, it is not the time to invite people that you or your S.O. have never met. Keep it to people you know and love and have been with you through this whole process. 

3. This is not the time to rekindle relationships

If you haven't spoke in 6 - 12 months and all of a sudden they want to hang out all the time they MAY just want an invite. Be wary of these friends. It's great to rekindle the relationship and go get coffee but some will care more about the party than celebrating with you. 

4. You do not have to invite someone who invited you to their wedding

I might get dirty looks for this wedding tip but everyone's wedding is different and everyone has a different budget and guest count they must stick to! Some may ask why they weren't invited, and it's simple...the budget didn't allow it, we had to stick with immediate family and very close friends. 

5. Coworker dilemma 

This one is up to you. A few options to cut down this list are that you can say that you won't invite coworkers, you can say you will only invite coworkers you spend time with outside of work, you can invite coworkers but they must come in a group (no plus ones). You decide what works best for you.

6. No Kids Allowed

This is also one to be careful with, sometimes people will say that only children in the family or in the bridal party are invited, children under 12 need to stay at home, or have a babysitter set up somewhere so the parents can enjoy themselves and the kids get their own separate party (pay a couple of babysitters & order a few pizzas). Again, this is one that you need to decide what works best for you.

7. The Parent Invites

Customarily the parents of the bride and groom are allotted a certain amount of guests, especially if they are paying for a good chunk of the wedding. Be very upfront with how many guests you want overall and come to a happy medium as to how many they can bring.

I will refer back to tips 2, 3 and 4. Do not let them invite the long lost cousin they want to rekindle a relationship with that invited your family to their wedding 10 years ago but otherwise have had no contact and you haven't ever really met other than the two minutes at their wedding 10 years ago. 

8. Will they be fun to have there

If you know this person will cause drama, complain about the monograms on the napkins, or the wrinkle they discovered at the hem of the tablecloth....just cross them off the list. You don't need negativity on the best day of your life! If you know they will get people on the dance floor and even though you haven't been able to talk in 6 months you would still love them there, keep them on the list! 

9. Sororities, Fraternities, Clubs, Churches & Groups

Many times you spent years with these groups. You may have been close at one time and loved spending time with them. But you don't have to invite everyone that participated in these activities with you. If you are still close or haven't seen them in forever and want them there OF COURSE INVITE THEM. But don't feel obligated if you aren't able to, if the budget or venue is too small to accommodate everyone, or even if you don't want to. 

10. Pick a number and stick to it!

If your budget can only accommodate 100 people, narrow it down to 100 people. I see a lot of people blow their budget by "just inviting a few more people". Also, do not just send out invitations to get gifts. The 20 people you sent an invitation to that you knew would never come, and you only wanted a gift from them, they may surprise you. Be prepared to have everyone you invited come, and even some you didn't invite. If you get back more regrets than you expected then you can go back on the list and invite some that didn't make the first cut but never assume people will or wont come. 

11. Rank your list

Put all of the people you could ever imagine at your wedding in an excel spreadsheet (props if you have a mailing list with all the addresses and can do this pretty easily). Give them numbers. 1, 2 & 3 (you can do more if you need to but I'm keeping it simple). 

1's must be there. That is your bridal party, parents, siblings, best friends, and immediate family.

2's you would love to be there. This is your extended family and close friends.

3's you would like there but if worst came to worse they could go. This is coworkers, groups you're involved with, the EXTENDED family (that you only see at funerals), and friends you like but aren't super close. 

Once you get everyone in a group and you know how many you can have you start eliminating. You start with group 3, if you have to work your way into group 2, and if you want something super intimate cut out a few from group 1. You'll cut it down in no time. 

12. Don't worry about the toes

If I have learned anything from weddings, toes get stepped on without you even trying. To the best of your ability keep the peace but it is inevitable that someone will probably get their feelings hurt. Handle it with grace. Make sure you have your reasoning for not inviting them, and move on. You cannot make everyone happy and at the end of the day. YOU and your S.O. are the ones that matter on your big day!