Tips To Shorten Your Guest List

November 23, 2021
Words by Team Destination I Do
Photos courtesy of Canva

Under normal circumstances, planning can be tricky and planning a destination wedding during a global pandemic can be downright anxiety-inducing. So, we pulled together sage advice from some of the wedding industrys finest to help you navigate yourself down the aisle with ease. 

How To Trim Down Your Guest List:

Start with the cost.

“Write out all of the guests you are thinking of inviting and divide them into two lists. The first list should include those you must invite: immediate family, best friends and your wedding party. The second list should include those you feel you really should invite, but do not have to: people who invited you to their wedding, extended family (cousins, aunts and uncles you are not necessarily close with) work friends, and friends who you knew before you were a couple. 

Work with your planner to get a good idea of what your wedding might cost per person. Then if that amount is, for example, $1,000, ask yourselves would you ever spend that amount of money on such and such guest – hosting them for dinner, a weekend get away, etc.? If your answer is no, then that is a person to cross off your list!”~Aimee Monihan, Tropical Occasions and Mountain Occasions

Ask questions. 

“Start with your friends. Ask yourselves, have you talked to them in the last three years? Do you stay in touch? Move on to other fringe areas such as kids and co-workers. Having an adults-only wedding and leaving co-workers off the list right now is okay. They will understand. And when in doubt? Elope!” ~ Ali Phillips, Engaging Events by Ali

Who do you want to hug first? 

“Instead of thinking of the people that they feel obliged to have, I will ask them to close their eyes, imagine their wedding day and who do they want to immediately hug after they have said their vows. So, if they have to limit their guest list to 10 people, the first 10 people that they imagine, they are the people to invite. The reason being is the people they have conjured up in their daydream are the people they want to share their happiness with the most!” ~ Tara Fay, Tara Fay Events

Create a “Value System.”

“The two and three-tier system is a great way to make sure you include who you want. Based on who declines, move down the list. Just make sure your guests don’t know they’re tier three (because youll end up with a toaster). Outside of family and close friends, ask yourself, ‘has this person been a part of you and your partner’s life/relationship?’ It is a celebration of your partnership after all!” ~ Jason Rhee, Rheefined Company and Rheegrp

Look at the upsides.

“I always like to look at things through the lens of positivity. Having to narrow down your guest list can actually have its upside and give you the opportunity to have two weddings. We recommend doing an intimate ceremony in 2021 and a large reception in 2022, this is what I did for my own wedding even before Covid.” ~ Monica Gomez, MG Events

Helpful Planning Protocols

Double-check your contracts.

When it comes to downsizing your guest list, make sure you know how it affects your budget. With a smaller guest list, you should have many expenses that are lower, due to a smaller guest count. Certain costs (flowers, food & beverage) will be substantially lower if your guest count has shrunk. Other costs though (your planner, venue, photographer) may stay the same regardless of your wedding size. Take a look at your contracts and talk to your creative team to learn how their fees might adjust based on a more intimate celebration.” ~ Amy Nichols, Amy Nichols Special Events and Intimate I Dos

Engage with your wedding vendors. 

A lot more people will be looking closely at their wedding contracts and deposits they have paid. I do think its a time for couples to engage with all their wedding vendors, no matter what stage in the planning process they are at.” ~ Tara Fay, Tara Fay Events

Think outside the box with invitations.

In addition to your printed invites, safeguard yourself by creating a digital version that can change in case of emergency. Have your stationer also prepare a digital graphic that you can share with guests via email, text or social. As for a PNG or JPEG file, they are easy to send and show quickly in any mobile or web browser.” ~ Kaleigh Wiese, MELDEEN

Book your vendors ASAP.

Regardless if youre planning now or if you had to postpone your wedding, book your vendors right now or at least six months out. If you wait too long to reserve your hair and make up artists, florists, photographers, planners etc., you risk not having many qualified artists left.” ~ Katelyn McCullough, Elwynn + Cass

Create a COVID Comfort Station.”

Having a COVID Comfort Stationhas been a huge hit.  As guests arrive we have a station with masks for all, hand sanitizer and a collection of bracelets that are different colors. Each bracelet color indicates the guests’ comfort level. One bracelet color might indicate they are okay with hugs and sharing space, whereas another shows they are keeping their distance.” ~Aimee Monihan, Tropical Occasions and Mountain Occasions

Want a big wedding? Push your date as far as possible.

If you have your heart set on a large event, thats okay. Just make sure you set your dates for as far out as possible to ensure you wont have to postpone anything. Youre probably safe to go for late 2021 or early 2022.” ~ Jennifer Stein, Destination I Do Magazine

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