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How to cut down your wedding guest list!

Firstly congratulations on your engagement and forthcoming wedding day.

You are probably reading this blog as you are struggling with your guest list or possibly need to find creative ways to reduce it.

So let me just say why I am blogging on this topic! There are two reasons.

Firstly I recently read a post on Facebook by an anxious bride saying that her partner was constantly scrutinising her guest list and she was getting really stressed and reached out to other brides for some advice. This didn't sound very fair as there needs to be a common ground from the start and definitely worth a discussion very early on so you that you are on the same page.

Secondly, if I had to do it all over again, I would do it very differently, so I wanted to share my direct experience from what I considered to be my perfect guest list.

So there a couple of things that would initially dictate your headcount. Either your budget will define your guest list or your venues maximum capacity.

Thankfully in 2019 there are uncountable blogs and advice for weddings but go back almost 15 years, not so much at all. So my planning was mainly based around my existing skill set drawing from my event management background. Even then, having a an emotional involvement meant that even I had made the odd balls up!

The main hiccups being that we went out straight away with all the enthusiasm, excitement, romance and money in our pockets to burn to hunt for our perfect venue. We didn’t even consider the guest list at the time. I mean we knew we wouldn’t be far off with both of us having very small families so we didn’t think we would have any issues. When we later drafted our invite list we had 130 day and 20 evening, so we found we were over by 30 spaces of what were allowed to have at our venue, so we had to move those we intended for the day to an evening guest list. Not ideal, but deposits had been made. We got married on Saturday in August, so we were told the date wasn’t going to hang around which again forced us to commit to our venue!

So what dictates my numbers?

So with this information you can either figure out how many you want to invite BEFORE you find your perfect venue or your venue will dictate your guest list?

Sharing your guest count

Next up was to divvy up the headcount between us! We had decided that family (our non-negotiable) would be counted up and then whatever was left we went 50/50. Admittedly you are never going to have an equal amount of family members, but these family members will no longer be his or hers, yours or mine, but both of you!

You need to decide who does and who doesn’t get an invite to your wedding. We decided that we didn’t want any strangers at our wedding and that everybody had to know either one of us or both.

Plus one or not?

This is very important if you have a LOT of single friends and you don’t want your numbers to get out of hand. As we had already decided that we didn’t want any strangers we took the stance, NO RING, NO BRING! So if our friends were not in a “serious relationship”, they were not extended an invite to their insignificant other.

That may seem a little harsh, but it’s your day. Even if we did have the space, we would have taken this option. This was a non-negotiable for us.

If I had to do it again and I had the same kind of budget to play with as I did in those days I would figure out my guest list first and just not view venues that couldn’t accommodate my perfect guest list. However, in reality, nowadays I would definitely be dictated by budget! So there is no right or wrong, just whatever works for you at that time. AND you could eve use a smaller venue as an excuse to keep your invite list down!

Kids or No kids!

We decided together if we wanted kids or no kids.

You will instinctively know if you are going to upset lots of people, or if your friends will be pleased with the day off! We had limited friends with babies and children, so this was actually an easy decision to have an adult only wedding day.


Oh boy, where do you start with this one! So I would say do not feel that you have to invite your boss/management, especially if you don’t want your work colleagues there too, unless they are in your close circle of friends.

To be honest, I found this bit hard. I had worked at my company at the time I got married around 5 years, for a big company but working in management in HR/L&D then later Events so I knew pretty much everybody! I had so many colleagues that I genuinely classed as friends in the company, including my bosses and my fellow management team. So I’m going to share with what I experienced and hopefully it will give you some idea when thinking about your work colleagues if you are struggling to get your number down!

I sat there and thought really long and hard and even said to myself “should I leave this company tomorrow, who will I still be in contact with in a year, or 2 years etc”. This initially reduced my quantity quite dramatically to a very realistic amount. However, do you know what happened after my wedding day? One day we had a huge shake up, new bosses who wanted their “own” people and a whole bunch of us got made redundant. Guest what? After working with many of these for over 10 years not a SINGLE person that came to my wedding made ANY attempt to keep in regular or any contact. They carried on their usual routine, for them nothing had changed. So along with having to deal with the depression of losing my job of over 10 years I lost all the colleagues who I truly thought were my friends (wedding invites or not), turns out they were only ever colleagues and sadly never any more than that. Don’t get me wrong, I had later met a colleague that is one of my besties and we still see each other today. So it’s possible that there are true connections, but possibly fewer than you may believe. On the other hand, I have to say that we didn’t have the internet phenomena of Facebook we had “friends reunited” which was more for school friends and Facebook was only just getting on our radar so I do appreciate that it is much easier to stay in touch now, but if you are friends you keep in touch, even if it’s by carrier pigeon

Extended Family!

Finally but not least because we’re are on extended family!

Some people can have lots of cousins and you have to draw the line somewhere, but realistically these are, sometimes almost strangers, that are called family are just your parent’s siblings and the life choices they have made to have children! By my explanation alone, you can see where this is going right? So I’m talking aunts, uncles by marriage, cousins and second cousins.

I understood it was not even an option NOT to invite them to your wedding day. They are family right? I wouldn’t have dreamed of not having them there on my special day. I wanted them there anyway!

I remember going to both of my mum’s younger Sister and Brothers wedding day and one of my cousins (all as a child) but mine was the next one that came along years later and I would have always thought they were my absolute non-negotiable. Since my wedding there has been further family weddings and one renewal. Only one of those weddings did we get a whiff of an invite, and an evening one at that so my stance has now changed completely.

It seems the one thing I thought was a given is not the case. So my thought process now would be that extended family should only be invited if they play a really meaningful role in your life, so use your day invites wisely peeps!

Now you have read my personal experience it’s time to review or start to write up your list of everybody you want to invite.

Write your non-negotiable list, your A list, followed by your “like to have” your B list and your evening guests, your C list.

Do not be surprised by how many many A’s B’s & C’s may change from when you created your list to when you actually physically send them!

Tip: Don't send your evening invites out until you get your day rsvp's back (as much as possible) in case any of them can't make it you may wish to make your evening guest a day guest after all.

So there’s my experience of a guest list and hopefully some help how to approach this.

My guest list was just one major thing I would have really looked at more carefully if I had the knowledge that I do now.

Most importantly, don’t fall out over a guest list. A little discussion to get yourself on the same page goes a long way.

If you ever needed any unbiased advice on your guest list or advice with any of your plans if you are organising your own wedding, our gateway is always open to chat with you.

If you have come up with a creative way to build or reduce your guest list then do share. Always good to hear what others have done and their experience.

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