Category Archives: wedding guest list

simple elegant wedding centerpieces with silver vases and purple roses

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.

unique spring wedding idea: patterned black and white table coverings with purple pastel chair bows

Milwaukee Wedding Planning: How to Create the Perfect Wedding Guest List

Compiling the perfect wedding guest list is a key part of wedding planning. This step-by-step guide can guide you through the process (and help you choose the perfect Milwaukee wedding venue!).

Step 1: Decide whether you would like to host a family event or adults-only wedding.

For some Milwaukee couples, this can be the first step or final step when the budget is tight or guest count is higher than the venue capacity (which should be a top question on your list of Milwaukee wedding venue interview questions).

The good news is that there is no disadvantage to hosting a wedding with kids or adult-only event. If planning a wedding for kids and parents, plan on adding children-friendly foods and entertainment options to your reception (such as coloring tables, bubbles, movie room, etc.) For an adult-only wedding, clearly categorize where you are drawing the line, such as “16 and over” or “18 and over.” (You can also use these tips for planning an adults-only wedding.)

Step 2: Make your own version of the 70-15-15 rule.

The 70-15-15 rule is different for every couple, but the premise is the same. Basically, this rule divides up the guest list into three separate lists. The largest portion (70% in this case) are guests of the couple, while the remaining 30% is divided between the bride’s and groom’s parents. For a complete breakdown, a 200-person guest list would be divided into 140 guests chosen by the couple, and 30 guests chosen by each of the parents.

This step should be accompanied by a conversation about the wedding guest list with any family members or friends contributing to the wedding (either with effort or financially). Be very clear about your numbers and rationale for your final guest number when you discuss the guest list with family members. It can eliminate a lot of drama and hurt feelings later!

Step 3: Compare your guest count to the venue capacity.

When crafting a guest list for your Milwaukee wedding, always make sure your final guest invite list is within the venue capacity. (You should ask about the venue capacity when first contacting a Milwaukee wedding venue.) The venue capacity is not an arbitrary number; instead, it is chosen to ensure the safety of guests.

When considering your Milwaukee wedding venue capacity, don’t feel like you have to cut the guest list down to the exact number. Typically, couples should plan on 80-90% of guests attending the wedding. This means that couples can plan on setting a list that is above the venue capacity, but should be careful not to sky rocket over that magic number (and remember that more guests equate to a higher budget as well).

Step 4: Divide up the guest list.

If you are worried about your guest list being too long, start divvying up the guest list. There are two ways to do this.

The first way is to separate guests into categories, such as “friends,” “family,” “co-workers,” etc. As you divide up the list, put guests at the top of the list that you’d really love to attend. The “maybes” can go on the bottom. This simple wedding planning step makes it a lot easier to trim down the guest list.

The second way is to divide the master guest list into circles of separation. The first list would be those closest to you, the second would be a step further from you…and the degrees of separation would continue. When trimming, cut the guests on the last lists (those not the closest to you). Once you’ve got the list trimmed to your final number, it’s time to move on to the next step and enjoy planning your Milwaukee wedding!

Tips for Crafting the Perfect Wedding Guest List

place cards made after guest list is finalizedWedding planning was going smoothly for our friend and her mother until the night they met about the wedding guest list.  Suddenly, stress-free wedding planning turned into a mess of strained pleas and tears.  The mother wanted to add second, third, and fourth cousins to the list; her daughter wanted a small wedding guest list.  If you want to avoid the same stressful meeting, use these tips to put together the perfect (and perfect-sized) wedding guest list.

Use the 70-15-15 rule.

If you feel like you need a hard-and-fast number to guide you and your parent’s guest list planning (or to reign them in), use this rule.  You and your fiance get to fill 70% of the total number of guests, and each side of the family (i.e. the groom’s parents and bride’s parents) gets to add 15% of the total guest list.  Put simply, if you have an event at 1451 Renaissance Place, we provide seating for up to 300 (couples can invite more).  You and your fiance would get to fill 210 of those chairs while each set of parents would get to add 45 (each) to the list.

Create lists within your guest list.

elegant hall with centerpieces, white table coverings, and blush chair coversTo make your guest list planning easier, create lists for your circles of family and friends.  The first list, list “A”, would include your closest circle of family and friends.  The next circle (think aunts, uncles, cousins) would be on list “B.”  Use that same philosophy for list “C” and “D” (with list D being acquaintances and people you know but aren’t close to).  When it comes down to trimming down the guest list, list “D” would be the first list of names to cross off, list “C” would be second, etc.

Decide whether you want to invite kids.

Today, it’s just as common to hold an adults-only wedding as it is to hold a wedding that includes parents and kids.  If you decide an adult-only affair is right for you, make sure you add a tasteful line to your wedding invitation that says, “Adults only” or “While our nieces and nephews will be joining us on our special day, we asks that only adults join us.”  To make sure each couple only RSVPs for two, create a drop down on your RSVP site that only allows space for two or fill in their names on the paper RSVP card.  Don’t make any exceptions so you won’t have to deal with the fall-out later.  If anyone expresses displeasure at your adult-only invite, just say something like, “I’m sorry you’re unhappy, but we have to be fair to all our guests.”

Use a fine tooth comb for your “taboo” guest list.

There are always going to be “maybes” on your guest list: exes, significant others, friends of friends, co-workers, etc.  The truth is that there is no set rule for these groups of people.  One couple might veto all exes, while another may want to include an ex they are on good terms with (especially if you have a child together and talk on a regular basis).  If you have room for all significant others, include a “plus guest” on all your single friends invites.  But if the guest list is getting tight, it’s okay to invite only your friend (unless they have been together with a girlfriend or boyfriend for a significant amount of time).  If you’re really not sure of whether it’ll create an awkward situation later (such as your co-workers who have heard you gush about your wedding plans for months), invite them.

Remember the venue maximum guest count is your final number.

For the safety of your guests, be careful to NEVER exceed the maximum guest count number your venue gives you (make sure you add that question to your list of venue questions).  That doesn’t mean you can’t invite slightly more than that number (be careful to not go dramatically over that number-what if they all come?); expect that about 80-90% will attend.  Plan accordingly and make sure that you won’t go over the venue maximum.  Don’t hesitate to ask event planners at your venue if you have any questions about the maximum number.  Remember, it’s your job to give your guests a fun and safe evening; the perfect guest list number guarantees that.