The Top Tips for Cutting Down Your Guest List

So you need to (unfortunately) make some cuts? Here's how to do it tactfully.
by The Knot

Whether you're having an intimate backyard wedding or a black-tie, ballroom affair, everyone has budget constraints—and you might not realize how much they impact your guest list until you start planning. (For the record, we know you'd invite everyone—including the barista you love at your local coffee shop—if you could.) Below, find our top tips for cutting down your guest list in a way that makes sense. 

Consider who's footing the bill. 

If you're running into conflicts curbing your guest list, consider who's paying. For example, if your parents are paying for the wedding, they get to have more say over the list. If your partner's side is paying, flip that. Or, if you're throwing your own bash, allocate a specific number to each side.

Think big and then make edits later.

If you like, start by making as big a list as you can—the "fantasy list," if you will. Then get ready to wield the pen as a hatchet and whack that list into shape, cutting ruthlessly until you're within budget. (We know that sounds harsh, but reducing the guest list is your best bet to cutting costs.) Put the people that don't make the cut onto a B-list for now and consider inviting them later on if you realize you have room (say, if you get more "no" RSVPs than you were anticipating). 

Factor in your venue.

If you have your heart set on a tiny country inn but plan to invite 200 people, your dream venue may not fit everyone on your guest list. Figure out which is more important to you: more guests or a specific venue. (And if you're not sure what you're even envisioning, take our Style Quiz first.)

Don't let yourself feel guilty.

Your wedding isn't an excuse to round up every long-lost friend you've known since junior high—focus on people who matter now. If you felt guilty every time you ran into someone you haven't seen in years and aren't planning on inviting, you'd end up with a mile-long guest list. 

Entertain an adults-only wedding.

If you look at your guest list and see a large number of guests 10 and under, consider having an adults-only wedding. Maybe there are some children you absolutely need to invite (say, your nieces and nephews). If you want to, simply hire a babysitter to watch them during the reception so they can still attend the ceremony, and ask your caterer to prepare "kids meals" so they don't have to eat (and you don't have to pay for) grown-up meals.

But choose your words carefully. 

If you don't want to invite kids, make sure the outer and inner envelopes of your invitations are addressed in such a way that it's clear children aren't included (Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Anderson as opposed to The Anderson Family). If anyone RSVPs with their kids anyway, it's okay to call and gently explain your preference.

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