How To Pare Down Your Guest List

Oh the guest list!  This can be fun and super stressful all at the same time.  You are thinking about all the people in your life that you love and who you want to be a part of your special day.  Both sets of parents are thinking about who they want to invite and all of a sudden you have a list of 400 people!  So, how do you get the guest list down to something more realistic and manageable?  Here are 4 ways to pare down your guest list.

1. Do you know them? Ideally, you’d like to know each and every guest invited to your wedding and in turn, they should know you. However, sometimes that just isn’t possible if families and friends live far part.  So, if you don’t know each of your guest’s names by sight, do they at least know yours?  If not, you may want to consider removing them from the list.  If you don’t know who they are and they don’t know who you are, both parties shouldn’t be upset if they are not in attendance.  This can be a good first step to narrowing down your guest list.

2. Plus ones. You should definitely invite any engaged or long-term partners of your guests, but everyone else depends on the situation.  I always think it’s nice to offer single people the chance to bring someone, but if you are in a tight situation there are ways to reduce the plus one invites.  One way is to only invite dates and/or significant others that you’ve met.  If you haven’t met them, they probably aren’t that serious and you shouldn’t feel obligated to invite them.  Another way is to only allow a plus one for the people who won’t know anyone else at the wedding.  When it comes to the plus one, you want your guests to be comfortable, so use that as a guide.  But, be cognizant that you are treating everyone fairly and the same.

3. Kids. Now for the little ones.  The easiest way is either to invite all of them or none of them.  The tricky part comes when you want to invite some kids, but not all.   You have to be careful here because parents can get upset if someone was able to bring their child and they were not (trust me, I’ve seen it happen).  So, if you do end up inviting some children, keep it to the immediate families or to the bridal party. Draw a line that will make sense to an outsider so that no one will get upset if only those children are invited.

4. Groups of Friends. One of the hardest parts about a guest list is not wanting to hurt people’s feelings.  If you have a group of friends that all hang out together, how do you invite just a few, but not all?  The thing you have to think about is, what is your relationship to each of these people?  I’m sure you are closer to certain friends than others in the group.  Ask yourself, if you were to move far way to a different city or even a different country, would you keep in touch with these people?  Are these people you see and talk to sporadically and only in a group?  Or do you make it a point to keep in touch?  Do they know who you really are?  We are all adults and most people understand their relationship to others.  If you don’t invite the friend that you see in groups, but never really talk to, they shouldn’t be hurt because their relationship with you is not nearly as strong or close as others.

The last piece of advice I like to give my clients is to invite the people who you really love and who you see being a part of your lives 10, 20, 30 years down the road.  If you imagine your life 10 years from now, do you envision these people still being a part of it?  If so, then these are the people you truly care about and who truly care about you. The people coming to your wedding should be the people who have played an important part in your life up to that point and who you see continuing to be a part of your life.  In the end, it’s about celebrating with the people that matter the most to you and your fiancé.  If you use that as a rule of thumb, you’ll have a much more intimate experience with each of your guests and a much more manageable guest list.

San Francisco wedding ceremony in the merchants exchange building  by destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: VAS Photography)

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