5 Steps to make cutting your guest list easier

With social-distancing measures, capacity limits in place while planning your wedding. You may have found yourself in the tough spot of needing to cut down your guest list.

Are you worried about minimizing your guest list without having any tension or hurt feelings? You're not alone! There are many couples out there trying to figure out who they can take off their list with the least amount of ruin. You may be asking yourself; so how do I cut down my guest list?

You may have already created your list and budgeted for it but, now you're being told you can only have 100 people! Or, maybe you've opted to have a micro wedding so, that 250 people guest list you have, is only 20% eligible!

Modifying your guest list to work for both sides of the family, ensure most don't feel left out, and ultimately deciding whose "most important" is a difficult task to face for most couples. It's a tiresome chore but, must be done.

I will give you my 5 steps to help you work together to determine that final guest count with ease.

1. Evaluate the original

Take the list you have now and follow these tips to evaluate it and rewrite it. Don't worry about the guest count yet. Just focus on these points and remove those that you feel it applies to.

Friends: Ask yourselves, "Have we hung out in the last year? Are we sure we will be close in the next few years? Will we hang out with them within the next year? Will they show up?" (are they within the state, usually pretty available, etc.)

Determine how likely each person you put on this list is to show up. Keeping in mind, about 15-20% of most wedding guests aren't able to make it, whether they RSVP or not.

Relatives: My advice for your family is to keep it immediate when cutting your list down. When it comes to extended family, create a line, and do not cross it. If you invite cousins and aunts - you would need to decide if you should invite "ALL" of your aunts and will it only be first cousins? Unless you have a very close family; my suggestion would be to treat your first cousins and their parents as you evaluated your friends (see above)

Obligated: If anyone is on your list because you feel an obligation to do so (business, they invited you to theirs, etc.) remove them now. You won't regret not including these people. You are not obligated to invite anyone to your wedding that you do not want to. I can not stress to you enough that it is your day. There is no right or wrong way to have a wedding. It is unique to you as the couple; as should your guest list.

+1's and Children: Whether to allow unmarried guests to bring a guest is an issue that most couples stress over for awhile. You don't want anyone to feel left out on your day but, you also have to think about how much money you will spend on each person and how many guests you can have based on capacity limits in your area and at your venue.

Regarding Children; there are many many reasons to have a "no-kid" wedding rule. Decide at what age is the limit for children. Create a rule here as you did for friends and extended family. Draw the line. Do not cross it.

An easy way to inform people is after sending out the invitations; send a personal message or give a call to those you may be most concerned about for this rule. Explain to them why and what your rule is. "We look forward to you being a part of our day. We are having an intimate wedding with a handful of people and we are not having kids (fill in rule here) We hope that you will still be able to attend. We wanted to let you know ahead of time so that you can hopefully find a sitter."


*HOT TIP: Now that you've got your initial modified guest list, we can proceed to break it down even further and getting to the nitty-gritty. That's right - time to get even more analytical. Don't forget to ask your parents for their requested invitee list. Especially if they're footing any or most of the bill.

It is within reason to ask them to provide an additional contribution to their guests as well if your budget is part of the reason for cutting down your list.


2. Create A & B Columns

Think of this as your plan A and plan B. Do this without looking at the list you created from Step 1 for reference. I will explain why later.

In the first column, make a list of the guests that under no circumstances can be removed from the guest list. These would be your bridal party, parents, grandparents, and any close friends. This list usually holds the as I call it, "Treasure Chest" of loved ones (don't forget their spouses!)

In Column B; begin writing down the people that come to mind. Do it quickly and without thinking about it too much. These should be names that come up like a knee-jerk reaction. These are the people that without looking at the original list you had would be invited automatically. Typically, you will find friends and some extended family like; cousins or aunts and uncles.

At this point; you've got a solid guest list going on. You know for a fact that everyone from Column A will 9 times out 10 be in attendance and that you want them there without a doubt. You've been able to prioritize those closest to you without really thinking about it. You can throw away your first guest list. You don't need it anymore. You only need those from Column A and Column B now.

You don't want to constantly reference the original because you've already modified that list. You're trying to make this easier on yourself.

Go through Column B and highlight names with three different colors. One will be for the people you really want to invite, another for those that would be nice to have and the final color for those that will only be if you have the room. WeddingWire talks more about this process in their article here.

3. Analyze Column B - 2 or More Rule

Now you can count the guest list from Column A and you will know how many people can be added depending on the total amount of guests you can invite.

If the venue told you that you can only have 100 people or you've opted to have a micro ceremony and there are about 50 people who can be in attendance.

Example: Let's say Column A has 50 people already. Depending on your capacity limits; you may already know who's invited. You will take the total amount from Column A and subtract that from your total guest count. Then, you will know how many people you can still invite.

Let's answer some questions: If the potential guest in question does not fit into 2 or more of these categories, it's safe to say you can cut them.

- Have they been a part of your life for 5 or more years?

- Are they of blood relation to either of you?

- Did they share a significant event in your lives?

- They've met both the bride and groom more than once?

- Do you plan on hanging out with this person in the next couple of years?

-This may be a funny one but, seriously; do you know their middle name or birthday?

5. Name from a Hat

We know that on average, 15-20 percent of guests are not able to come to the wedding (no matter what column they were placed in) Maybe something happened a few months down the line, and someone you thought was going to show up - didn't. I always suggest to my couples; leave some wiggle room for surprises. That means; choose about 10 additional guests (if your budget allows) to add to your list and send an invitation too. Doing this will allow you to have extra food if needed, and ensure there's no guest list resentment hanging around on your wedding day. Compromise and make a game out of it maybe or just simply break it down the middle and give each other freedom to invite a few people on your own that maybe didn't fit into the criteria earlier.

4. Who Gets Invites?

This can sometimes be the trickiest part. If anyone is not on your list because they won't be able to make it and you know this already. Due to, traveling obstacles, a busy work schedule, etc. You should send them an invitation. Now you can start designing those coveted invitations!!

I hope these steps will help you crunch the numbers and get that final headcount you've been looking for. If you have any questions or need some advice, feel free to send us a message. I am always happy to lend a helping hand. Remember; your love is beautiful and unique. Your love is special and so is this wonderous wedding you are about to experience. Make your day about the two of you. Yes, it matters who gets invited; after all, it makes for awesome pictures... but, truthfully, you only need the two of you to make the commitment to each other you are making. It is a tough time and there are some tough decisions that need to be made. But, that's okay! Take a deep breath, hug each other, and get started on these tips. You'll have that guest list in no time! You got this! #BeYourOwnMuse

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