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5 Ways to Trim Your Wedding Guest List

Making your guest list can go from convivial to contentious with the cross of a pen. You can feel the invite pressure from your parents and your partner's, your friends, and yourself. But if obligations start adding stress — emotional or financial — then it's time to make some cuts. Here are five areas where the guest list can get hectic.

  1. Parents' friends: This can be tricky if your parents are paying, but if they want to invite people you haven't seen in 20 years or only met once (or never!), then it's time to intervene. Politely state your case for why you think the invitations are unnecessary. Setting a number ("I really want to keep it under 100, so I'm not overwhelmed") and arguing for wedding-day sanity may be the route to take.
  2. Co-workers: Invite only the co-workers you want at your wedding. It really is that simple! Don't hide it, but don't flaunt it either. If anyone can't understand that there has to be a cutoff somewhere, then it's their problem.
  3. Plus ones: Making a guideline (only inviting married or engaged couples, significant others you know, or only the bridal party can have guests) will probably go over better than deciding who gets a guest on a case-by-case basis.
  4. Exes: There are only two people whose opinion matters here, and that's you and your intended.
  5. Kids: It's perfectly understandable why you wouldn't want kids at your wedding, and if it's going late into the night, their attendance doesn't entirely make sense. I imagine their parents would enjoy the night away!
Image Source: Anna Roussos
Join The Conversation
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
"Anyone should be allowed to bring a date. " Disagree. Unless you're paying for the wedding, you should not try to dictate the guest list. It is not your party. If you're not comfortable going, then that's up to you as an invite is not a summons. There are many reasons for not giving out +1's to everyone, it's expensive, first off. Second, many venues have a limit on guests.
wolfpackgal wolfpackgal 6 years
One of my very good guy friends sent me an RSVP to his wedding, and it had a blank for # of guests. I wrote 2, assuming that I could bring my boyfriend (of 6 months). I got a Facebook message the next day saying that only engaged or married couples could come. I was so mad, and didn't go to the wedding. I wouldn't have known many people at all. I think it's a horrible rule. Anyone should be allowed to bring a date.
looseseal looseseal 6 years
Engaged/married definitely isn't the best cut-off, plenty of people have very long serious relationships without getting married. Just invite everyone you want to invite by name. No plus-ones, no bringing along extra people who weren't specifically invited. I, for one, would even attempt to keep it under 50. Close family members and close friends only. 'Cause I'm not made of money. All of these people would already know someone else in this group, so they all have people to hang with even without bringing in extra people you don't know. Your wedding isn't that big of a deal to most people who are not that close to you anyway. People have lives. Presumably. I sure don't get offended at not getting an invite to a wedding for people I hardly know. I've even turned down offers to let me bring plus-ones because why would I want to drag along someone who don't know anyone there? I don't get the "must bring my SO and/or kid along and will be offended if I'm not allowed to" mentality. You're not surgically joined together, you will survive a few hours apart. I suppose I can see that it might be a good opportunity to introduce someone to your circle, but really, if the people you want to introduce mean anything to you at all, you will probably see them outside of the wedding with your SO and/or kid. Weddings are not really the kind of thing where you really get quality time with people anyway. Particular the happy couple, who tend to be super-busy during their own wedding.
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
Moose-juice- "and significant others who are cohabitants. " That's why I think it's important to look at individual cases because I'd rather invite Friend A's boyfriend (been together 5 years, but don't live together) than Friend B's bf, who moved in with her after being a couple for a month. Some people have religious reasons or personal reasons for not moving in together, doesn't make them less important.
Tara-Block Tara-Block 6 years
Good tips mouse-juice! And kitkatherine, immediate family is tough! I'd say cut out the kids if you have to, and some of the out-of-town fam probably won't make it. To make sure they don't feel left out, maybe plan a hometown shower for any family that can't make it to the wedding.
Studio16 Studio16 6 years
I'd cut out kids, exes, and co-workers (in that order) before I cut out my parents' friends. Their money, their command!
moose-juice moose-juice 6 years
For plus ones at any event that isn't gender specific, weddings included, good etiquette obligates you to invite spouses, fiances, and significant others who are cohabitants. Also, most articles I have read think that it would be in poor taste not to allow the bridal party to bring a date, but it isn't exactly required. Beyond that there are various points of view. I know Miss Manors seems to dislike "and guest" and promotes only inviting significant others that can be named on the invitation, so essentially, only people who would know who they are bringing before the guest list is finalized can bring dates, no to inviting some random. Some other columnists that I read aren't quite so against the "and guest", but agree that there should be a set standard to who is allowed to bring a guest, i.e. everyone, only family members, only people who helped with the wedding, etc.
kitkatherine kitkatherine 7 years
one of my exes is in my groom's wedding party lol how do you cut down immediate family (aunts-uncles-cousins-cousin's kids) lol? i need that advice!
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
1. My mothers guest list is SO long (40 friends), but she is paying a lot of money, so I finally just gave in and let her invite whomever. 2. I'm inviting several co-workers, but I'm not inviting my boss. I severely dislike him, and I don't want him there. I've talked to those that are invited, and they aren't going to say anything. 3. We are giving everyone a +1. We were going to do: serious relationship, cohabitants, engaged & married, but my mother said she had never heard of that before.. and it was tacky.. so everyone +1 it is.. 4. No exes, no worries. I don't talk to any of mine and ditto for my fiance. 5. No kids for us. The first tier of "kids" in the family are my cousins kids. All of my cousins are over the age of 24. A few of my friends have kids, but I think they are looking forward to a night out w/o them. I'm sure a few people will be miffed, but we wanted a nice formal adult party. If it bothers them, they don't have to come - I guess!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
1. I doubt my parents would invite friends unless they were also people I'd known for a long time or was close to. However, if they were helping to pay I wouldn't mind (to a point, obviously). 2. Probably not. I'm not that close to anyone I work with. 3. I think plus ones should generally be included, but if you're going to limit it I'd rather it be case-by-case than a bright line rule. For example, my BF and I have been together for almost 7 years, but we're not engaged. If it were a blanket rule I'd be a little annoyed if I were excluded because of my lack of a ring. 4. No. I'm not friends with exes, and neither is he, so it's a non-issue. 5. I won't be inviting kids to my wedding, including not having flower girls/ring bearers. I can't count how many times an event has been ruined by a screaming/crying child, and I just don't want to deal with that. Kids need too much constant attention, and if you're offended, don't come. I can't imagine someone couldn't get a babysitter for a night.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
Having the plus ones. We want our guests to have a good time with their loved ones while they share the celebration of our love on our wedding day. No kids though. I really like my second cousins and such, all expect 2, which the world obviously revolves around. :\ Can't not invite them and invite the others. Boo. Parents will pay for their friends they add to the list. No exes and no coworkers, except my dad :)
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
Snarkypants - Case by case, for sure. It can't be fair if everything is cut and dry (engaged/married). I can understand why some couples don't want to give the +1 out so freely, it can be expensive to invite people and when you don't know them, it's worse. I personally don't like the idea of going to a wedding for someone I don't know.
lawchick lawchick 7 years
We excluded kids and some co-workers. Our parents had pretty much free reign with their friends (since they were paying for most of it), but they didn't abuse that. We invited around 150 (a bunch from far away who we knew wouldn't come) and had around 100 or so guests. A nice size! I wouldn't have considered excluding +1s. Only ever been invited to one wedding like that and I didn't go, because it wasn't a wedding where I would know a bunch of people to hang out with.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
oops, + guest, not + date
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i also hate the "no plus ones unless they're engaged/married". i also was not invited to a wedding that my bf at the time was standing up in. LAME. and several times, i was not allowed to bring a long-term bf as a guest, but my idiot friend who has now been engaged 3 times, all after dating the girl for a couple of months, got to bring one. grrrrrrrrr it should totally be case-by-case. although i do have a male friend who just recently realized that he is not always allowed to bring a date. he just assumed that he could, whether or not the invite said "+ date"! (funny enough, he wasn't supposed to bring a date several times, as he's a bit of a manwh0re, and the bride didn't want to have to feed his most recent flavor of the week!
Pistil Pistil 7 years
Family and close friends.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
This is a pretty good list. I'm going to try and keep my guest list under 125, we'll see how many cuts I have to make. The kid issues is my top concern. I have a lot of older cousins with kids so I may have to just invite the parents only. I have 7 nieces and nephews, my guy has 3. If you add everyone else, it's over 30 children. That's just not doable.
fuzzles fuzzles 7 years
I say just elope and have a backyard BBQ at a later date!
skigurl skigurl 7 years
chloe, good point - i own a home with my boyfriend and we've been dating for almost 2 years and if i wasn't invited as his plus one to a wedding, i'd be soooo mad...even though we're not married, we're as good as married at this point...some people would live in our situation forever without papers!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I don't know, I think the not inviting "plus ones" can go over very badly. My boyfriend was a groomsman in a wedding where no one (not even the wedding party) was allowed to bring a date unless they were married. Since the bride and groom were getting married only 1 year out of college, none of their friends were married yet, so their policy translated into none of their friends being allowed to bring dates. It didn't bother me that much since me and my bf had only been dating a few months at that time, but for the other friends who had been dating their girlfriends for 3+ years, it was kind of a slap in the face. I think all the other suggestions are really good though - especially the one about co-workers.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
1. i will only allow the friends who i know personally and like to be there...and my parents should (hopefully) respect that 2. if i got married right now, no coworkers would be invited, but a few from my old offices would who knows if i get closer with people here before i get engaged...i would be okay with making a "no colleagues rule" though 3. i'll make it on a case by case basis if i so choose! i will know my guests well enough to know if they have someone they would like to bring and if not, then no random date for you (if space is an issue)! 4. no thanks! 5. there are some parents out there who would be so PO-ed that you didn't invite their kids! i love kids, have some kids who are really close to me in my life and my boyfriends life, and i loved weddings as a kid so i'd invite kids, but i can understand people who don't have lots of kids close to them and may be having a pretty fancy affair may not want kids there
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