Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: How to Lower Your Guest List Without Being Rude

March 5, 2012  |  

By Taylor Lea Thomas

Question:
“How can I lower the guest list without being rude? Invitations have not gone out but he and I both have big families.”

Taylor’s Answer:

Handling the guest list requires diplomacy, for sure. The size of your guest list is dictated by your budget. Take the time to have a frank conversation with your groom by asking yourselves, “How many people can we realistically afford to entertain?” If you’ve set your heart on a certain location, this may also limit the number. Each side should have a set number of guests to invite. Once you’ve set a maximum head count, don’t be tempted to exceed it. Don’t rely on a dropout rate either because you’ll be in trouble if all your guests accept.

The easiest way to fix this issue is to draw up a list for both of you with three columns: “Absolutely Must Invite,” “Would Be Nice to Invite,” and “Maybe” – then start eliminating names. Admittedly, this is a difficult process, but start by dropping people you haven’t seen for several years or just don’t keep in touch with very often. You’re not obligated to invite co-workers or a plus one for your friends. Most couples draw up their guest list with their parents which can certainly make creating the guest list even more challenging if parents feel their share of the list should be larger than you or your groom may like. There may be distant relatives they may want to invite for etiquette’s sake, while you’d rather invite more friends. Here are two possible solutions since you and your groom both have big families:

1) You can have a two-tiered reception by inviting a small group of your closest family and friends to the wedding, and have a party later in the evening to which additional guests are invited – there should be a separate invitation for the after-party because you can’t give everyone the same invitation and then tell them they can’t attend a certain part.

2) Or better yet, invite more people to the wedding, such as in a large church, and keep the party/reception afterwards more intimate. Also, though you might think it’s common sense, it’s good etiquette to send an invitation to your groom’s parents, and if you’re having a church wedding, one to the minister as well. Stay formal with things. On top of that, set a cutoff date for sending invites and send out invitations no later than six weeks before, and never less than three weeks before – your friend or relative may be insulted.

In the end, be honest with those you can’t invite if you can’t afford a large reception or a large wedding ceremony, and set guidelines with your parents so that they don’t try to invite everybody they want (and people you don’t want). Lastly, whatever you do, don’t get into debt by planning a wedding for more guests than you can realistically afford; it will only cause friction in your marriage two years later when you’re still paying off that massive credit card bill.

Taylor Lea Thomas is an award-winning celebrity luxury wedding planner, and CEO of Elite Soirée, Inc. – the #1 luxury wedding planning company in the world devoted to the art of creating luxury weddings with an emphasis on style! For more information, visit elitesoiree.com. Follow Taylor on Twitter for more tips and advice as you navigate this wonderful milestone in your life of planning your wedding: @taylorleathomas.

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