Cutting down your wedding guest list can feel like you’re Hercules battling the Hydra – cut one person, and two more grow back in their place! But it has to be done, whether it’s because you need to save a few bucks or because they just! won’t! fit! in your venue. Remember, a bigger guest list means a bigger budget… or choosing between a champagne reception and serving your uncle’s homebrew!
The moment when you and your partner combine lists and discover the number is bigger than you ever imagined is always a dark day. To avoid disappointment for either of you – and the ruthless cull that has to follow – try using our Guest List Tool. It’ll do all the adding up, sorting and tracking, meaning you both stay on top of numbers.
Sadly, as brilliant as our Guest List Tool is, it can’t fight your battles for you. (Not yet, anyway. We wish!) So if you think your other half is being unreasonable (or maybe you just need to get something off your chest!), we’ve got some tips to help you navigate the tricky terrain of the wedding guest list.
Straight in at the deep end! We can almost guarantee that both sets of parents will want to invite a long list of their friends, regardless of whether or not you like them…or whether they can pay towards the extra cost. As a rule of thumb, we’d say that if they’re not immediate family or your other half hasn’t seen them in the past ten years, you have a right to question them.
Now, this is a decision that lots of couples struggle to make personally, never mind between the two of them. But if a child-free wedding is what you want, you should be reassured that you’re not a bad person for requesting this. You’re also not the only one – lots of couples do. Not only is it an easy way to cut costs and numbers (and, dare we say, stress levels), but it might even be more welcome among your guests than you’d expect! After all, it gives parents a proper night off to enjoy themselves.
Work friends are tricky. The key question to start with is whether they’re friends your partner happened to make through work…or if they really are work friends. Either way, it’s worth considering that not only can a blanket ban rub your fiancé up the wrong way, it might well make for an awkward office atmosphere for them post-honeymoon. Why not compromise and invite a handful of them to the drinks and dancing, if not the ceremony? That way, everyone’s happy… But you’re still not paying full whack!
We’d never want to make assumptions but this can be a ticking time bomb. Now, if you’re one of those lucky few who’s genuinely on good terms with their ex (and importantly, whose partner is on good terms with them too!), more power to you. Invite away! But there are no prizes for inviting an ex out of awkwardness or some kind of weird obligation – so if you don’t have a good reason to (e.g. you’re actually still close friends), we’d give it a miss. Remember, you’ll also be risking a fair few awkward conversations: “So, how do you know the happy couple?” “Oh, erm…” Our advice? Only invite exes in exceptional circumstances.
Managing a wedding can feel like a balancing act. Yes, you want the details to be perfect and to keep everyone happy… But you still need to think about the big picture (and vice versa!). This is never more apparent than when you’re putting together your guest list. Sure, maybe those extra six guests from Mum and Dad’s timeshare won’t actually feel like such a big deal on your big day… But if it’s overwhelming you right now, you need to let your parents know.
Every couple will have this moment… And you know what, some of you might decide you should! But take a minute and pour another glass of wine before making any hasty decisions. We promise that nine-and-a-half times out of ten, it’ll be worth it in the end!
Chances are, one of you will have a significantly larger family than the other. To deal with this, try to assign rough portions of your guest list to each one of you early on so that you both know what you’re working with. You might do this equally and split the list into quarters: one for each of your families and one for each of your extras. Or you might decide to reflect on the size of your respective families: if your partner has a much bigger family than you (but is still close to them!), you could decide to give them a third for their relatives and yourself a quarter. Either way, your boundaries will be a bit more obvious – and so will overstepping them!
This is where you need to be firm with your decision. Lay down the law and stick to it – avoid any grey areas or sneaky exceptions. For example, many couples have a “No Ring, No Bling” policy, meaning a guest can only bring a plus one if they’re married or engaged. That said, given that many people choose not to marry nowadays, another way to keep your guest list a little leaner is by making decisions based on how long a couple have been together.
Look. Weddings aren’t tit for tat, and you should never feel obligated to invite someone to yours, just because they invited you to theirs. Planning a wedding is too hard (and too expensive!) for that. This is the bottom line: invite the people you want to spend the best day of your life with… And ideally, no one else!
Maybe you are, but the reality is that this is what all couples have to do eventually. At one stage or another, you’ll start to feel like all your wedding guests have a pound sign hanging above their heads. Planning a wedding is a balancing act. Inevitably, you start to think about how one less guest means getting back their equivalent in booze, flowers or cake. But before you make any hasty decisions, think about how much that person means to you. This feeling won’t last forever – you’ll forget it as soon as they’re there at your big day. We promise, they’re worth every penny… But if you really don’t feel like they are, then it might be time to make a cut!
If you feel like you’ve done everything you can and your guest list is still just too big, it’s time to get pragmatic. Sit down with your partner and split your guest list into the A List and the B List. Sound cruel? Not at all! Many couples even plan ahead and print two sets of RSVP cards with different dates: an earlier date for the A List and a later date for the B List (to be sent out after the A List have said they can’t make it). A word of warning though: try not to let the B List know they’re the B List. Cher might get away with it in ‘Clueless’… But there’s no guarantee that you will too!
Got another guest list dilemma you want solved? Check out our Instagram, TikTok and YouTube channels. We might have already answered your question – and if not, drop us a line in the comments. But we reckon once you’ve sorted out these ones, you’ll be pretty much good to go. Send those invitations out – and once your RSVPs come flooding in, keep track of them with our state-of-the-art Guest List Tool. Then it’s onto budget blow-outs…