How To Cut Your Wedding Guest List

How To Cut Your Wedding Guest List

Deciding who to invite to your wedding is often one of the most challenging (and emotionally charged) parts of planning a wedding. Office politics, family dynamics and budgets can create some stressful moments. Guest lists go beyond friendships, careers and family dynamics – especially when you remember each person on your guest list represents a fee for food, drinks, decor, printing, postage, and the list goes on.

If your wedding guest list (and budget) could use some trimming, consider these tips:

  • Begin building your guest list by creating three columns; immediate family, close friends, and acquaintances. You can then enter names into each column. As you need to cut guests, you can begin to work your way through each list. This does require determination not to stuff one of the columns.
  • Each person on your guest list will cost you an average of $100. Before you remove family members, you might want to discuss it with your parents or anyone contributing to the cost. Explain that your wedding budget allows for a certain number of people. If your family wants to extend additional invitations, perhaps they can cover the cost. 
  • If the person is someone you only see because you share a mutual friend, and you wouldn’t hang solo, it’s okay to cut them from your list. Friends of friends aren’t part of your closest circle.
  • Exes are just that – exes on the list. If one of you is uncomfortable with that person attending – they don’t make the cut. You’re starting a new life together, you don’t have to bring old baggage into it.
  • If you haven’t talked since high school, college, you moved, etc., consider inviting someone you speak to more often or extended family first.
  • Just because someone invited you to their wedding, it doesn’t mean an automatic invitation to yours.
  • On average, 30 percent of those invited will be unable to attend. This will depend greatly on the date, location and how many guests would be required to travel. If your guest list is too big, consider removing those that are highly unlikely to travel.
  • One of the most contentious discussions about wedding guests lists often centers on invitations to children. To avoid hurt feelings you might want to adopt a kids rule. You can invite children, have an adult only reception or include immediate family.
  • You are not required to allow single friends to bring a date to your wedding reception. It is your choice to decide where to draw the line. To avoid offending someone, you may want to consider allowing guests in long term relationships to bring their significant other. When making your seating arrangements, single guests will likely appreciate being placed at a table with other singles.
  • If you’ve been a member of the bridal party in the last 24 months, that couple should receive an invitation, although you are not obligated to ask them to be part of your wedding party.
  • Always the boss, sometimes your co-workers. Avoid awkwardness in the office by inviting your immediate boss (and anyone above that you know well). When it comes to co-workers it can get trickier. If you socialize outside of the office, that makes you real friends. If you wouldn’t talk unless you worked together, it’s probably safe to exclude. If you work in a very small office, it might be easier to invite all or none to avoid hurt feelings.
  • Still undecided?  Ask yourself if you will be filled with regret that this person wasn’t at your wedding?  Will they add something special to your day?  The answer will tell you if they get an invitation.

Typically, wedding invitations are mailed 8 weeks prior to the event, with an RSVP requested 4 weeks in advance. This timeline allows you to contact guests who have not responded and send out additional invitations as necessary.  People getting a late invitation will know that they weren’t your first choice. Simply say that you have a few more invitations to extend and would be honored if they join. Anything else will sound like a story or excuse.

We would love to be invited to be part of your wedding day! 

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Mike Staff Relaxing

Mike Staff is the founder and CEO of Mike Staff Productions, one of the most highly acclaimed wedding services companies in the country, providing award-winning Wedding DJs, Wedding Photographers and Wedding Videography for over 20 years. Mike serves as a Nationwide Ambassador for The Knot.com, advising the wedding industry on best practices and insight into the challenges and opportunities.

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