Tips To Shorten Your Destination Wedding Guest List


November 23, 2021
Words by Kinsley Brown
Photos courtesy of Canva

Dreaming of a fabulous wedding, but worried the guest list might burst your budget? You’re not alone. Here, top wedding planners share their expert advice on how to trim down your guest list while keeping the joy (and intimacy) of your special day front and center. From a clever cost-per-guest trick to the power of visualization, these tips will help you create a guest list that reflects your priorities and ensures you’re surrounded by the people who matter most on your wedding day.

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 getaway, 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 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 are the people to invite. The reason is the people they have conjured up in their daydreams 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 (or you may end up with a crappy 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

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 gives the opportunity to have two weddings, one small destination celebration and another larger one at home.” ~ Monica Gomez, MG Events

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