1. Balance your fantasy with your reality. Your budget will play a major role in how many guests you can invite. Start drafting your list in the early stages of planning. “This is a great way to establish the kind of wedding you want,” says Tara O’Grady, owner of wedding and event planning company Bliss. “Everything’s based on the number of people you want.”
2. Be diplomatic. Don’t be afraid to let people know that you have a limited guest list. “Most people understand weddings are really expensive,” explains O’Grady. “As long as the bride and groom are honest and upfront from the beginning, it makes it easier.” At the same time, try to keep pre-wedding chatter to a minimum in front of those you know you can’t invite.
3. Categorize your list. This can make it easier to decide who stays on the list and who goes. Divide your list into “must-haves” and “maybes,” or group people by social circle. You may opt to keep all your childhood friends but eliminate your co-workers.
4. Address invitations specifically. Did you invite two people but receive an RSVP for four? By specifically stating whom an invitation is for, you’ll avoid any confusion. If people ignore this, it’s okay to phone them and kindly explain your preference.
5. What about the kids? Ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you want children at your wedding or not. You could limit invitations to the children of immediate family members or choose to invite only children ages 10 and up. Some brides arrange for a babysitter to entertain the kids in an adjacent room while the parents enjoy the celebration.
6. Mail invites promptly. The quicker you send your invitations, the quicker you’ll know who won’t make it. By creating a wait-list, you can include people you couldn’t initially invite. “The key is to send out the first batch early with an early RSVP date,” advises O’Grady.
7. Don’t feel obliged to pay back debts. Just because your parents were invited to a distant cousin’s wedding doesn’t mean you have to reciprocate. Explain to your parents that you have a limited guest list and that you’d like to keep your wedding to a more intimate affair with only close family and friends. If your parents are contributing to the wedding you might want to allow them to invite a certain number of guests.
8. Consider separate invitations. Just because you couldn’t have all of your girlfriends to dinner, doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the dance! Let your loved ones know how much you’d love to celebrate with them and invite them to join you after the ceremony or after dinner.
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