Tips To Narrow Down Your Guest List


April 21, 2021
Words by Be Inspired PR
Photos courtesy of

You’ve got the ring, you’ve set the date, you’ve found your dream venue…and now, you’re stuck stressing over how exactly you’re supposed to narrow down your guest list! “Do I need to invite my childhood friend that I haven’t spoken to in over a year?” “My college roommate didn’t invite me to her wedding, so can I knock her off the guest list?” “Aunt Rhonda would be devastated without an invite, but I’m trying to stick to our nearest and dearest!” These all might be questions running through your mind, but don’t worry – we’ve teamed up with the pros at Be Inspired PR to put together the ultimate industry expert guide to narrowing down your guest list! Grab a pen, grab your guest book, and get ready to start crossing off some names.

(Pictured Above: Event Planner: All You Need is Love EventsPhotographer: Jillian Rose Photography)

“Our general advice when it comes to a guest list is asking yourself this number one question – would I invite this person into my home for a $500 dinner and unlimited drinks? If you aren’t close enough to do that, then you probably aren’t close enough to invite them to your wedding which is likely going to cost AT LEAST that per guest. Focusing on the cost per person is a great way to quickly narrow down your list!” – Vikki and Shannon from All You Need is Love Events

(Pictured Above: Event Planner: Feathered ArrowPhotographer: Shot By EllenFlowers: Poppyhill Flowers)

f you’re wavering on which friends to invite, I usually suggest that couples go by the rule ‘if you haven’t talked to that friend in over a year or more, you most likely don’t need to invite them to your wedding.’ Next, think about whether or not you want kids to be invited. Oftentimes, couples will make the wedding adults only to cut back on costs and to allow their friends and family to have fun and be kid-free. Lastly, don’t give all your single friends a plus-one unless they have been dating someone seriously for a while. This helps eliminate added costs of friends bringing a date that isn’t their significant other. Just remember that it’s your wedding and you can invite or not invite whoever you want to invite.” – Kari Dirksen, CEO + Lead Planner of Feathered Arrow

(Pictured Above: Event Planner: Bridal Bliss
Photographer: Mosca Studio)

When in doubt on who to include/exclude, consider if you’ve invited the person or couple over to your house for dinner in the past year (or would have, had COVID not been an issue). Yes? Then include them. No? Then consider cutting! Although it’s not always that cut and dry and at times family politics come into play, I’ve never heard a client complain about their wedding being too small, but I certainly have heard it about a wedding being too big.” – Nora Sheils, Founder Bridal Bliss

(Pictured Above: Event Planner: Kirkbrides Wedding Planning & DesignPhotographer: Lauren Gabrielle PhotographyFloral: Blooms by Plantscaping)

“If there is any chance you may switch jobs during the year or longer period of planning, hold off on sending save the dates to work-only friends, and instead make the final decision when invitations are finalized. That way, it won’t be awkward to greet your former co-worker, for example, who you haven’t seen or talked to in 8 months.”- Valarie Falvey of Kirkbrides Wedding Planning & Design

(Pictured Above: Event Planner: Cape Cod CelebrationsPhotographer: Kelly Dillon PhotographyFlowers: Lilacs Cape CodVenue: Chatham Bars InnPaper: Paper & Honey)

Separating your guest list by categories can help a couple get perspective on who they ‘absolutely must’ invite to their wedding day and those who could be considered an “’invite if we have space/budget.’” – Jamie & Stephanie, Cape Cod Celebrations

(Pictured Above: Event Planner: Bridal BlissPhotographer: Christy Cassano Photography)

If you’re inviting certain family members out of closeness, we totally understand. But if you invite one aunt, you’re most likely going to have to invite all of your aunts. You can make her feel special in other ways, personalizing a tote bag or gift on the wedding day or having her come up for a speech. If it’s your cousins, we recommend the same, it’s all or no one or be transparent with your family members to why they’re not being invited. For friends who invited you to their wedding, don’t feel obligated to invite them if you have lost touch with them. Keep the list small and cozy, don’t let your vision drift off because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” – Lizzy Liz Chan of Lizzy Liz Events

(Pictured Above: Florals: Detailed Floral DesignPhotographer: Detailed Floral DesignVenue: Avensole Winery)

In the past, there was a lot of pressure to invite everyone to your wedding. This included childhood friends, your parent’s friends, your fiancé’s parent’s friends, every cousin, aunt, and uncle on both sides and the list went on and on. Although there are new challenges in planning a wedding this year, one benefit is couples now have more flexibility in who to invite to celebrate their big day. Narrowing down the guest list is completely expected and if you choose, your micro wedding can be just those friends and family you are truly excited to see on your wedding day.” – Karese at Detailed Floral Design

(Pictured Above: Photographer: Vanessa Hicks Photography)

“Remember that this is YOUR wedding. And you are not required to invite ANYONE to be honest! Look at your guest list and remember that you are paying for every single guest to eat. Paying for your work buddy’s significant other as a plus one? Not necessary! Who do you want to see in the audience on your most special day? That’s who should be there!” – Vanessa Hicks of Vanessa Hicks Photography

For more helpful tips on this topic, check out Destination I Do’s podcast episode “Expert Tips for Trimming Your Guest List for Your Wedding Away“.

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