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How to Trim Your Wedding Guest List

Trimming your wedding guest list is a matter of choice and, in some cases, necessity. It can also be an incredibly stressful part of wedding planning. Many couples don’t want to say no. The couples that do have family or friends that aren’t on board with their decision to trim the guest list. This guide can hopefully make the process a little easier for you—and less stressful—as you plan your Milwaukee wedding.

How to Trim a Wedding Guest List BEFORE Sending Out Invites

It’s normal to start with a huge wedding guest list and pare it down to a number that fits the venue capacity and your budget.

Go from family to adults-only.

Trimming the wedding guest list to only include adults is an easy way to cut the guest list. This decision may come with some negative feedback; not everyone appreciates finding child care and leaving their kids at home.

You can make the decision by weighing the pros and cons of an adults-only wedding. A definite pro is that an adults-only wedding allows for many fun wedding entertainment opportunities, such as a sampling bar or a risqué trivia game. The biggest con is the negative feedback that comes with the decision. If you are leaning toward hosting an adults-only wedding, the best way to deal with this feedback is to have solid reasons for your decision. Guests are more likely to understand if your decision is based on venue capacity limitations or a tight budget.

Make categories.

One of the easiest ways to break down a wedding guest list is to break up your guest list. You can do so by dividing the list into categories, such as “friends,” “family,” or “professional acquaintances.” To make those lists smaller, set a limit on each category. At the top of each category list, put the “must haves”—the people that mean the most to you or you see most often—and put those guests that would be “nice to have, but not essential” at the bottom. This process can make it a bit easier to cross potential guests off—without guilt (or much guilt).

Use the 70-15-15 rule.

When you’ve got a big wedding guest list, it can be hard to divvy up the guest list with family. When your guest list number is smaller, every seat is even more important. To help with the task—and avoid any unnecessary family drama (hopefully)—inform your family that you will be abiding by the 70-15-15 rule. Basically, this means, if you have 100 guests, you and your groom would get to name 70 guests, your parents would get to add 15, and your partner’s family would add 15.

Stay within venue capacity.

Venue capacities are set for the safety of everyone. It’s important to stay under that number when setting a wedding guest list. You can get the venue capacity number when you contact the venue with your list of wedding venue questions.

How to Trim a Wedding Guest List AFTER Sending Out Invites

In certain circumstances, it’s necessary to trim the list even further after sending out invites. As you go through the process, remember to continually communicate with guests about any changes and the reasons for the modifications. There are two ways to do this, through in-person conversations, calls, social media, and via a wedding website. (Use these tips for building a solid wedding website.)

Consider hosting an adults-only wedding.

If you need to trim down a guest list, an option is to change your big day from a family affair to an adults-only wedding. You can post this change on your wedding website or social media site, but it’s also important to contact close friends and family about the change. These conversations may be difficult; it’s important to be open and honest about your reasons for switching to an adults-only wedding.

Cut any extras.

Another way to decrease the guest list is to ask guests not to bring a plus-one. Again, this change can be posted on social media or your wedding website, but you should also follow up with close friends and family affected by the change.

Though it may be more difficult, you can also divide your guests into categories and place guests you don’t talk to on the bottom of each category. These categories could include “friends,” “family,” and “parent guests.” The guests on the bottom of the lists should be crossed off, and contacted with the option to join the event online (if you choose to live stream your wedding day).

If you need to trim the guests list because of a health situation, you can also identify guests who may be reluctant to come. It may be hard, but the best approach is to contact these guests directly, ask if they are interested in coming, and explain your reasons for trimming the guest list.

Give guests the opportunity to live stream.

While it may be difficult to contact guests and ask them not to come, you can still offer them the chance to be a part of your big day. Fortunately, there are many companies offering live stream services that make it possible for guests to login and see your ceremony and reception. In addition to mentioning it to guests directly, you can also post the link on social media and your wedding website.

Work with a wedding planner or venue.

An independent wedding planner or venue planner can make the task of trimming a bit easier. While they can’t actually cross names off the list, they can coordinate communications with guests and vendors.