December 12, 2018

How to Slash Your Wedding Guest List Like a Boss

Posted in: Wedding Planning

“Let’s decide who we’re inviting to our wedding and…who will never speak to us again.” –

It’s inevitable. At some point, you must consciously decide who will and will not be invited to your wedding. This can be hard—and sometimes embarrassing.

You might have already had an awkward moment of running into a not-so-close friend who says she can’t wait to see you on your wedding day…but you weren’t planning to invite her. Or you may have argued with your parents or other family members who have their own wedding guest list.

Here’s the simple process we use with our clients to decide who gets a “yes!” on your list or who gets the “we love you and we’ll see you after the honeymoon.”


Make a list of all your friends and family that you would absolutely love to have with you on your wedding day.  This is what we call the perfect scenario wedding invitation list.  As you’re making out this guest list, don’t qualify or over think it.  This is your absolutely no holds barred, no restrictions list of people.  Remember, this is perfect scenario and in a perfect world we have no restrictions.  Let’s just dream a little.


No, this isn’t about your DJ.  On your perfect wedding guest list, go through and put a number 1 next to all of your immediate family members, bridal party and your BFFs.  After you’ve given out the 1’s, it’s time for 2’s.  Use a 2 to indicate first cousins and other close friends.  Leave everyone else without a number.  Don’t panic yet, this isn’t necessarily your final list.

Add up the 1’s and 2’s.  If you’ve reached your venue capacity, then your first wave of guests you’re inviting to your wedding is done. But even if you’ve reached capacity, don’t stop there.  Put an “L” next to everyone on the perfect scenario wedding guest list that would have to travel a significant distance via plane or more than 8 hours in a car to get to your wedding.  Statistically speaking, unless the L’s are also number 1’s in your life, they are less likely to attend your wedding.  Studies have shown that people won’t travel long distances to attend a wedding unless it’s a very family member or best friend.

Use your best judgement to indicate your L’s and who you also think are less likely to attend for any other personal reasons – health, kids, etc.  When done, you’ll have a good idea of the wiggle room you have with sending out invitations.


Now let’s address the other elephant in the room: Dealing with family conflict.

Now to deal with confusion or family pressure around who makes the list, and it’s centered with your heart’s desire in
mind. Consider the following about any “iffy” guests.

  • Think about how the person makes you feel when you’re in their company. Do they make you angry? Do they
    always have something negative to say about you? Do you feel bad about yourself when you’re around them? Does
    looking at them instantly put you into a state of despair? If you answered yes to any of those questions, they are
    NOT on the list. I know that sounds simple, but it’s your day and this is to be the most joyous experience for you.
    Eliminate anything that is a serious threat to you experiencing that joy.
  • If someone else is paying for your wedding and it’s their guest, how important is it to them that the person attend?
    Don’t settle for them telling you it’s very important. Have an honest discussion about the real reason why. It is
    important to respect your loved ones, but also ask why they want the person to attend and share with them how that
    person makes you feel. Stand your ground only when necessary but also avoid giving in to shallow requests around
    trying to compete with past events. If you are indifferent and they are paying, skip the argument and invite them.
  • If you’re paying for your wedding, have you covered all your “must haves” on the list? Can the venue accommodate
    adding more people? Can you afford it? If the answer is yes to all those, you are good to go. Add them to the list.

+1 +1 +1, +100

If your friend is single and desperately does not want to attend your wedding alone, it’s very difficult to justify having
you pay for their date. Your friend should be able celebrate you without negotiation. Plus, your wedding is going to
be awesome and they’re going to have a great time no matters who’s there.
In the end, do what makes you comfortable. If you can afford it and the plus one does not reduce your joy, allow it.
However, if you’ve reached your capacity at the venue or simply can’t afford one more headcount then don’t invite
anyone else to the wedding.
There is no shame in not being able to afford an extra person on your guest list. And there is nothing wrong with
wanting to have a small intimate ceremony. People know and understand the cost of weddings, and most (if not all)
won’t be offended by not getting an invitation.
You’re likely to bump into an acquaintance or two who finds out you’re engaged and wants to attend your wedding.
You haven’t spoken to them in what seems like forever and that probably won’t change during the remainder of your
engagement. This person probably won’t even realize or remember that she wasn’t invited until after you’re already

Remember, it is your wedding day and you don’t have to justify who you want to include to make it special and


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