You’ve picked your date, ordered your attire, and you’re ready to make your guest list… but where do you begin.

Unless you’ve got an unlimited budget, you won’t be able to send out an invite to every single person you know. Having everyone you know and love in attendance can sound amazing, but even couples with the biggest of budgets have to draw the line somewhere.

Oversized guestlists are a common wedding planning occurrence and can be remedied by following these simple tips.

wedding guest list

1. Categorize Your Guest List

Start by writing down the names of everyone you think you want to invite, list style.  Then give them a letter using the following categories:

A = I can’t say “I do” without them.

B = They’ll be missed if they’re not there

C = Could add to the fun of the day

Now you can start! Anyone with an A is untouchable. A B, is likely to get an invite but are up for debate if you have to cut numbers. The C group will only receive an invite if people from the A and B list RSVP no. This might sound a little cutthroat but this will make your list much more manageable and nobody has to know whose names were on what list.

2. Stagger sending your invitations

Sending your invitations in waves is the best way to manage your guest count without having to cut people from the beginning. Sending your invites earlier than you might have planned will give you the option to move people up from your B and C list with “no” RSVP’s. Just be sure you have enough time for the final invites to be sent out so that guests will have plenty of time to plan.

3. Focus On The People you are close with

This is your day! Make sure the people you want there are going to genuinely enjoy sharing this special moment with you and add to the feeling of the day. Just because you invite a cousin from one side of the family, it doesn’t mean that you have to invite a cousin from the other side. Focus on the people that are present in your life now and who you can envision will be 10 years from now.

4. Consider Your Budget

Getting down to the final list you have to make some tough decisions about who makes the cut and who doesn’t. It’s always good etiquette to think about who is paying for the event. Traditionally the family that foots the bill has a little more say over who’s in and who’s out, but the same should be applied to whoever is funding the wedding. If you’re paying for the wedding yourself you’ll have to be as diplomatic as possible about the guest list to ensure that both you and your future husband or wife are happy.

5. Cut +1’s

You aren’t obligated to invite all single guests with a +1. Instead, invite them solo and seat them together so they will mix and mingle. So how do you actually go about telling your beloved friends and family that you want THEM there, but you don’t have space for some random person to come with them? Address your invite clearly to avoid confusion, be specific and use the guest’s name on the invite. Depending on the guest it may or may not be a big deal. If in the instance you have a friend traveling all the way across the country and they won’t know anyone else at the wedding except you, then it may be a good idea to make allowances for them.

6. Think about the last time you saw them

This tip sounds simple, and it is. Do a quick scan of your guest list and remove anyone who you haven’t seen in the last year (unless they are an A). It’s safe to say that they’re not high on your priority list if it’s been more than a year since you last saw each other. Don’t feel pressured into inviting everyone you’ve been friends with at some point in your life, your wedding is about celebrating with those you are closest to now.

7. Adults Only

One of the easiest ways a wedding guest list can spiral out of control is when you start adding everybody’s kids. While you may like to invite everyone and their families, where do you draw the line? By hosting an adult-only event you’re making the decision easy and ensuring that there are seats available for other guests.

wedding guest list

8. Don’t Be Pressured

Lastly, don’t feel pressured to invite someone that you really aren’t excited about. Just because someone invited you to their wedding doesn’t mean you have to invite them. Don’t feel bad about managing your list- it’s one of the best ways to keep your budget on track. The people that love you two will understand.