The Wedding Guest List: How to Make Cuts

Wedding guest lists are one of the most important parts of any wedding because at the end of the day, weddings are all about celebrating with people that you love. So, of course you don’t want to forget anyone! However, in your attempt to not exclude anyone, it can be easy to also get a bit carried away and send out too many invitations. So, to help you narrow your guest list down to the people that really matter, we’ve written this article  to give you tips on who you should leave off your wedding invite list. Let’s dive in! 

Create a List of VIPs

4 female besties hanging out with their hair down waiting to be added to the brides wedding guest list
Photo by Elina Fairytale

First thing is first–as a couple, determine who absolutely HAS to be there? We’re talking mom, dad, grandparents, sister, brothers, best friends. People that you wouldn’t forget even if given the opportunity to. Those are your absolute “yeses.” Now that you have your list of VIPs, take a look at your event venue’s maximum capacity as well as your budget. How many people do you have more space for? It may be 20 more people or it may be 150. However, now you know you’ve gotten all of the most important people on your wedding guest list, so the most stressful part is out of the way: Getting started!

Apply the Five Year Rule

wedding reception with guests dancing the night away - wedding guest list
Photo by Amar Preciado

So you have your essential wedding guest list outlined and now you’re filling it in with the rest of your guests. To us, this typically means cousins, college friends, high school friends, work friends, extended family, your old babysitter and the like. This is where it can become difficult to decide who should or should not make the cut. You and your middle school babysitter still stay in touch on facebook, but would she really feel comfortable coming to your wedding? That’s where the five year rule comes in. 

The five year rule states that if you haven’t seen or spoken to someone in more than five years, they probably don’t need to be on your wedding guest list. However, there are exceptions to every rule. So, just because you haven’t spoken to or seen someone in five years doesn’t mean you can’t invite them. For example, if your best friend lives in a different country and you haven’t seen them in five years, but you catch up via facetime every few months, it still makes sense to invite them. But, if you have a high school friend who you were close to 10 years ago and haven’t seen or spoken to them since graduation, they can probably do without an invite. 

Apply the Five Minute Rule

4 girls in pastel dresses
Photo by Konstantin Mishchenko

If the five year rule doesn’t help you slim down your guest list enough, apply the five minute rule. This one is short and simple, but does require some introspection. To apply to the five minute rule, simply ask yourself, “would I genuinely enjoy speaking to this person for more than five minutes?” If the answer is no, they probably shouldn’t be on your wedding guest list. Your wedding is all about making you and your partner feel loved. So, if great aunt Susan always tells you she liked your hair more when it was blonde or never fails to bring politics up at family gatherings and you KNOW for a fact that having her there will do nothing but stress you out, don’t invite her. She’ll survive–we promise. 

Eliminate Plus Ones

wedding guest list plus ones drinking cocktails
Photo by cottonbro

If after creating your essentials list, applying the five year rule, and applying the five minute rule, you still need to shorten your guest list, we highly recommend doing away with plus ones. Like we said earlier, there are exceptions to every rule. So, if one of your bridesmaids would like to bring her partner and you have the space, that’s totally fine. But, if your second cousin from Kansas that you only see once a year for Christmas wants to bring her boyfriend of 3 months, it’s okay to say no.  An easy (and not so harsh) way of communicating that you will not be having “plus ones” at your wedding is to say on the invitation: “Due to limited space, attendees are limited to those listed on this invitation”

Would You Feel Comfortable Going to Their Wedding?

wedding ceremony with bridesmaid and groomsman walking down the aisle
Photo by Nikhil Singh

The final step to slimming down your guest list is another introspective question, but it’s also the easiest one to answer. Would you feel comfortable going to their wedding? If the answer is no, then you may consider that they probably won’t feel comfortable going to yours either. However, we do know that sometimes it isn’t that simple. Maybe you absolutely adore the couple whose wedding you’re entering into this hypothetical situation with, but you don’t know any of their close friends or family, so you would just feel awkward because you would be the odd one out. 

If that’s the main thing that has you saying “no” to whether you would feel comfortable going to their wedding or not, we have a solution for you! Introduce guests before the wedding so they all walk into a venue of familiar faces! There’s no better way of doing this than using Guestie. Guestie is everything that weddings have been missing out on as far as making their guests more comfy around strangers goes. Guestie is a digital party starter and guest book that allows you–the couple to be–to create profiles for all of your guests as well as tag common interests between them. Once you’ve created profiles for your guests, they’ll be able to log in and browse through the other profiles. They’ll even be able to play the Name Game and match everyone’s faces to their names before your reception. 

We hope that these tips have helped you slim down your guest list! If you need more help with wedding planning, tailoring your wedding guest experience, or choosing a destination wedding location, head on over to the blog for tons of great wedding inspiration and advice. If you want to keep in touch, follow us on Instagram & if you want some aesthetic inspo, be sure to check us out on Pinterest!

Happy planning!

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