Last week we talked about how to create a wedding guest list and with that checked off on your wedding planning to-do list comes one more daunting task: cutting the guest list down. But fear not, cutting down your list can be simplified if you know where to start. Once again, we turned to some of the top wedding planners in the Washington DC area and asked for their advice. What do you suggest your clients do to trim the guest list down? Here’s what they had to say…

Photo Credit: Rebekah J. Murray Photography from Waterfront Wedding in Maryland

Set the Rules and Stick to Them

Keeping in mind the kind of wedding you want to have and your venue’s capacity, setting rules up front will help keep your guest list in check. Also need to communicate these rules with your parents. — Vicky at Event Accomplished

Cutting the guest list can be easy if both you and your fiancé stick to general rules that you both agree to in the beginning of the planning process. Here are a few examples: No children under age 12 except for those in the bridal party. No plus ones, if they are not in a serious relationship. Don’t invite a guest if you haven’t been in contact with them in over a year. — Shawn at TreBella Events

Make a rule and stick to it for everyone. If kids below 12 are not invited, then that has to be the rule for all kids. On the other hand, if you are not inviting boyfriends or girlfriends, stick with that for everyone. If you make exceptions for some, that is when feelings really get hurt. — Aimee and Cindy at A. Dominick Events

To trim the guest list (depending on how many people need to be cut), here are a few strategies: 1) Keep family invitees to first cousins. 2) Decide whether or not kids will be invited and keep a standard policy on that (exceptions may be siblings children and wedding party flower girl and/or ring bearer). 3) Eliminate coworkers to only those people whom you have an outside relationship with. 4) Eliminate friends who you haven’t seen or spoken with over the last year. – Margo at Bright Occasions

Categorize Your Guest List

We recommend categorizing the list into tiers – must have, like to have, and obligated to have. Then, have a discussion to determine where you can most easily draw the lines. It’s important to remain consistent to avoid offending someone – for example inviting only one aunt and uncle and not your others, risks offending family members. — Elizabeth at Elizabeth Duncan Events

Work colleagues can be a tricky situation, since that often involves a large group of people. It is always nice to include your boss, if possible. For other coworkers, if you don’t socialize with people outside of the office, there’s no need to include them on your guest list. If you do end up inviting a select number of people from your office, make sure and let them know you’re not inviting everyone, so they can be discreet about attending the wedding. — Sara at Bella Notte

It helps to have an A-Team (people you can’t imagine not inviting to your wedding) and a B-Team (everyone else – i.e.- co-workers, extended family, etc.) when creating your guest list. It’s never easy cutting people but it’s best to prioritize the list if you can. – Jennifer of Elegantly Chic Events

When creating a wedding guest list we find that giving yourself some guideline questions to follow help you decide whether or not they should be on the list. For example: Some guideline questions may be, ‘Have you spoken to this person in the last two years?’ or ‘When you see their names in print, can you envision their faces?’ or ‘Are these people who truly support me and/or my relationship’? (Don’t forget, you’re paying for these people to be there). If you both stick to these, you and your fiancé (and families) will have created your ideal list. – Candy, of Candy + Co. Events

Dealing With Plus Ones

For “plus ones,” your rule should be, “no ring, no bring.” This rule shouldn’t apply to your wedding party. They should be able to bring their “plus ones” to your rehearsal dinner and to your wedding reception. For recently married friends or family members, keep in mind that you don’t have to invite them to your wedding if they didn’t invite you.— Kay at Howerton + Wooten Events

You’ll probably have a few exceptions to the “cut by category” rule, but sticking to it as much as possible will help you avoid hurt feelings among those who weren’t invited. While it’s nice to allow single guests to bring a date if they choose, it’s not a requirement. If you don’t have room in your budget or your venue for “plus ones,” then don’t feel guilty about inviting single friends and family members without an unnamed guest. Guests who are unmarried but in a committed or serious relationship, however, should always be invited as a couple. Some couples choose to put their must-have guests on an A-list, then put the “maybes” on a B-list rather than eliminating them altogether. — Stephanie at Pretty Entertaining

Cutting Groups vs. Individuals

Choose a group to cut across the board. Usually cutting out people from work and cousins sometimes is a clear and easy route to take. — Courtney at A Sweet Soiree Events

Cutting one person isn’t going to make that much of a difference, it’s cutting groups of people that make the difference. If you cut 4 couples from your guest list, not only is that 8 less people you’re paying for, but one less table to rent, one less centerpiece to pay for, 4 fewer escort cards/favors/welcome bags. It adds up! — Rebecca at Blue Canary Events

Avoid Hurting Feelings

Be consistent to help avoid hurt feelings in the end. Also, if the only interaction you have had with that friend all year is a Facebook “Happy Birthday!” consider cutting them out, but do consider the effects of leaving off one person from a tightly knit group. When it comes to co-workers, invite only those who you would spend time with outside of work rather than the whole cubicle cul-de-sac. — Ginger at Gingerwood Creative

Don’t invite coworkers or every single fraternity or sorority member. This is where a slippery slope begins and the domino effect of inviting guests can happen. If people ask, which they might, why they aren’t invited be up front and honest. Saying something like we really are keeping it to family and immediate friends” or “We wish we could invite everyone we know but the venue has a limit we need to stay within.” — Laura of Events in the City


Thank you so much to all of the wedding planners in the DMV who offered such great advice for cutting a wedding guest list. Be sure to visit them on their websites to find out more of their services!

So, what about you? Are you stressed up creating that guest list? What are you doing to get it all together?

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

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