Real Dilemma: How can we trim our guest list down?

04 / 06 / 18

Without a doubt, one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning is managing the guest list. We know many couples struggle with managing the guest list and the emotional turmoil it can bring! We've found a fab article from The Knot and chose our favourite pieces of advice which we totally agree with!

1. Decide how you'll divvy up the list—before accepting financial help.

Making a guest list can get messy, especially if one or both sets of parents are involved in the planning or contributing financially. That's why you should be clear about your expectations before you accept help from them. Even if you're paying for the wedding yourselves, it's a good idea to get the families together and talk about the guest list so there are no surprises. Once you've started putting down deposits with someone else's money, you're in a bind, whereas before you start spending, you can still negotiate or choose to decline.

2. Design your dream list.

When you start building your list, jot down the names of everyone you could ever imagine attending your wedding, from old uni friends to that funny third cousin you met once at a family reunion. Just for this part, take your budget and venue out of the equation. You'll have to do some trimming later on, but for now, think big. If you're tempted to invite even more people on a whim later, go back to this list as a reality check. If they were never on your dream list, are they really crucial now?

3. Be realistic about the number of guests to avoid stress later on.

Crunching the numbers isn't the most glamorous part of wedding planning, but there is a figure you really can't avoid: your guest list count. Your budget and the venue size are the main factors that should play into this decision. Each guest adds to the number of plates your caterer will prepare, favours, chair hires and how much cake you'll need. Choose a number that's larger than your venue's capacity and you'll be holding your breath every time you open an RSVP. It's much better to keep your number on the conservative side. If there's room in the budget or you end up having more space than you thought you would, add later on. Make it easy on yourself and use a wedding budget planner or spreadsheet to play around with the numbers and see how much you can save or spend by subtracting or adding from your guest list. Most venues will provide a cost per person which will make this task easier.

4. Make some cutting rules (and actually follow them).

It's time to return to reality and start trimming that dream list until you reach your real number. The easiest way to cut the list is to come up with rules and actually stick to them. You can use the guest list flow charts to help with this. There are plenty online, and one we like was on Pinterest:

5. Make an A-list and a B-list.

We'll keep this little secret between us. Having two lists is how you'll be able to invite the most people without raising your budget or having to find a larger venue. Here's how it works: Your A-list consists of the must-have invites you couldn't imagine not having at your wedding, like your family and close friends. They'll receive your first round of invitations. Your B-list is made up of guests you still really want to be there, so don't put just anyone on it. If you start getting RSVPs and it turns out you have enough "regrets," then you'll start sending invites to your B-list (in order of importance). If you send your B-list invites too close to the wedding (within a week or two), you might as well tell those guests they're second best. Do it without being obvious. Send your A-list invites 10 weeks in advance (a little earlier than usual), which will give you time to send invites to your B-list six to eight weeks before your wedding. Don't forget to print a second set of reply cards with a later RSVP date (sending RSVPs with a date that has passed is a dead giveaway that the recipients were on your B-list).

6. Don't let the parents (yours and your in-laws) wear you down.

Boundaries—set them and stick to them (see point one!). When it comes down to it, this is your wedding. If budget is the issue, then the solution could be as simple as having whoever wants more guests chip in extra to pay for the overflow. In many cases, the venue caps the guest list. First, try to compromise. Why not invite just one and put the rest on the B-list? If that doesn't work, don't waver. It won't be easy, but bend now and you're going to end up with even more requests down the line. Have any hard conversations face to face. You want to make sure you're sending the right signals, and when there are emotions involved, you want your point of view to be heard and understood.

7. Avoid last-minute add-ons.

Whether or not you spread the word yourself, you're probably going to get one or two awkward comments along the lines of, "I can't wait to come to your wedding!" from someone you're not so sure about inviting. In the moment, it can seem like an easy out to respond, "Me too!" But do this and you'll either end up having to add them to the list or having an even more uncomfortable conversation that's basically akin to uninviting them. The best thing you can do is steer clear of wedding specifics while you're still in the early planning stages. Prepare yourself for potentially awkward conversations by coming up with a polite but firm response that can't be misinterpreted. Something along the lines of, "Of course we'd love to invite everyone, but unfortunately, with the venue space and our budget, we aren't able to." Then take the conversation in a totally different direction.

So there you have it, some great, practical ways to help create and manage your guest list!

Happy planning!

Love Team Whitewed xx