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  • Writer's pictureSydney Schatz

Three Tips to Narrowing Down Your Wedding Guest List

You just got engaged and made the big, wonderful announcement to the world. Now everyone is asking you when the wedding will be and where, but you haven’t even had the chance to sit down and really look at your guest list. How many people do you want to have, who do you truly want to share this milestone with, and what are your overall wedding priorities? So, you finally sit down and write out everyone who you may want to invite. The list is long, longer than you expected. What do you do now? How do you even start the process of narrowing down the list? Here are my three biggest tips (in no particular order) of how to go about such a dilemma…

1. When was the last time you saw the people on your guests list? How involved in your relationship are they?

Did you include a former co-worker on your list, just because they invited you to their wedding 4 years ago, but your fiancé has never met them, and you haven’t worked with them in over a year? Consider crossing them out. Your great aunt and uncle have been invited and come to every other family member’s wedding, but you haven’t seen them in years or don’t keep in touch? Don’t feel like you need to send them an invite. A marriage announcement will do just fine.

Try to take the word “obligation” out of your vocabulary when looking at your guest list. This is your day! You are not obligated to anyone except yourself and your significant other.

Yasmina Rose Photography

2. Pick “plus ones” wisely.

It is okay for you to include some plus ones and not include others. If one of your dearest friends also just so happens to be a perpetual dater, it is okay and appropriate for you to only invite your friend and not include whoever they happen to be dating at the time. The easiest way to make it clear if a plus one is invited or not is with how you address the envelope & set up the RSVP process. If you would like to include someone’s plus one either add their name to the addressed envelope or a simple put “+ guest”. Otherwise, only address the envelope to the single person invited. If you are asking guests to RSVP online, most guest management programs will allow you to limit the number of people who can RSVP per invitation. If they can’t RSVP for two, then they will (hopefully) get the hint that their plus one is not included in the invite. If you plan to send out paper RSVPs, I recommend including on the card something like, “Due to venue restrictions, please only RSVP for those addressed on the envelope. Thank you for being considerate.”

3. Make sure to stay within your venue limitations and budgetary expectations.

This is a big, and theoretically easy, one. If your venue’s maximum guest count of what they can handle is 150 then you are limited to 150 guests or less – period. If your budget is set up to handle 100 guests and you don’t feel comfortable with what the cost looks like beyond that, then you best pick out 100 of your favorite people off your list. A lot of this comes back to your wedding priorities and what means the most to you. In this instance, it is also important to remember this industry standard… if the majority of your guests are local (or local enough to drive) then the rule of thumb is 80/20 that your guests will RSVP, yes. If your guests are mainly coming from out of town (enough that they will need to fly) then the ratio drops down to 70/30. So, it is okay to estimate slightly over that final number you are hoping to be at, but it is also important to be somewhat conservative because no one wants to be uninvited to a wedding.

Now, there are lot of additional tips out there on how to best go about narrowing down your guest list, but I decided to go with three of my best tips because the planning process as a whole is overwhelming enough, no one needs to read more than three bullet points. After you go through these steps, if you are still struggling to get that guest list down to where you would like it to be, let’s talk about what to do next!

Be sure to reach out via my contact form HERE because it is amazing how much stress can be relieved by having a wedding planner in your corner to bounce ideas off of and gain valuable advice from. And if you are just starting out in the wedding planning process, check out these blog for more tips and tricks…

How To: Inquire with a Wedding Vendor

The Job of Your Bridesmaids

Creating Your Wedding Website 101

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