The Great Guest List Dilemma: How to Cut Back


Jul 20, 2017

We’ve seen it happen over and over again. Your dream wedding is being planned. Your budget is already streeeettccchhinng a little further and a little further.

And your guest count is getting larger and larger…

One of the top budget tips you’ll see is cutting down your guest list. Food, drinks, wedding favors, table and chair rentals, cake servings, table decor, and so many other parts of the wedding budget are going to be affected by how many guests you’re expecting.

But we all know how it goes. You know, how you feel like inviting one certain person makes you feel obligated to invite the 5 other people in the same “life category” as the first. Sometimes it feels like there’s no end! Then you have lists coming from both parents with their friends and neighbors.

What’s a bride to do?

Today on the J&A Blog, we’re talking through some ways to make those guest list slashing decisions a little bit easier.

We recommend organizing your potential guest list into a few different categories.

1. The VIPs

These are the people who are at the very, very top of your list. The ones you can’t imagine the day without. The ones you’d be willing to schedule your wedding date around. Parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, your best friend. You know who falls into this category in your lives.

2. The Must Haves

These people are still pretty important and are definitely in line for an invite. Lifelong friends, extended family, people who you will actually be really excited to hug while you’re next to each other in the cake line.

3. The Really Wants

This section is made for people you really do care about, but aren’t quite important enough to be in the Must Haves. Coworkers, college or high school friends, people you really like but aren’t in your innermost circle. You’ll love to have these people at your wedding if you can, but it isn’t a huge deal if they can’t make it.

4. The Social Obligations

This is the toughest category. You know, those people I talked about at the beginning? The other 5 coworkers that you feel obligated to invite if you invite the 2 you actually get along with. Your parents’ neighbors. Your boss. The family down the street you used to babysit for. Whoever falls into your own category of “well, I guess I really should invite them so their feelings won’t be hurt” is who we’re talking about.

{These people below? Definitely on the VIP and Must Haves lists!!}

Bonus Tip! If you’re having issues with your parents adding more to the guest list than you can accommodate, ask them to categorize their list into these categories, as well. You’ll have a better opportunity to make sure their Must Haves are included if you simply can’t accommodate everyone.

You also need to make a decision about whether or not you’ll be including kids and plus ones with your invitations. People have very differing opinions on what’s appropriate, and that’s a choice you’ll need to make. Just make sure you’re clear on the invitation so everybody is on the same page!

Bonus Tip! Instead of inviting Plus Ones (which can increase your guest list significantly), think about putting your single friends at a table with people of a similar interests or ages. If you can, make sure all of those tables have one or two friends who are comfortable in new groups of people and know how to break the ice for everyone else.

So cutting back that guest list? It’s a doozy. It’s tough, it really is. Dividing your potential list up into these categories will help you see the big picture more clearly. The VIPs and the Must Haves are a given. The Social Obligations group is the first guest list category for you to re-consider. If something has to give, you’ll know where to start.

If you don’t go out of your way to spend time with someone on a normal basis, it’s okay not to extend an invite. People understand that it’s impossible to invite everyone you know. Just make sure you communicate things ahead of time to your parents, best friends, aunts, and anybody else who might be throwing you a wedding shower! If someone is invited to a shower, they need to be getting a wedding invite!

It is true that not everyone you invite will be able to make it to the wedding. It’s also true that getting back an accurate guest count via RSVPs is really difficult and you’re going to have to make an educated guess. You can assume that a good number of people won’t be able to come due to sickness, other obligations, etc. You can take that into consideration if you need to add in a few more invites.

While cutting back the guest list is never easy, thinking about the overall picture will help you make decisions on who you really care about celebrating the day with and who can be skipped.



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