How to cut your guest list in half without hurt feelings.

Updated: Jan 12, 2019


One of the first ways you can bring simplicity to your wedding or micro- wedding and create a more intentional day is to cut back your guest list.

I completely understand how hard it can be do this, especially if you have a large family or network of friends. It's wonderful that you have so many special people whose feelings you care about however the larger your wedding list, the more money you'll spend on your event, the less time you'll have to actually speak with your guests individually and the more logistical stress you'll create on your wedding day.

Its time we stop looking at weddings as events for everyone to attend and instead start thinking of them as a deeply personal moments to share with those who are truly the closest to us.

Here are a few tips to help you decide who to keep and how to consider the feelings of those you cut. Not all of these will work for you and that's okay! Pick the strategies that align with your beliefs.


Photo by Primp and Pop

1. Consider the last time you spoke: I have a a few friends who I speak with every week and a few that I haven't spoken to in a year or more. While the friends I don't keep in touch with as often still hold a special place in my heart, they might be the first to remove from my list.

2. Make your event adults only: Consider making your wedding adults only. It's important that you not pick and choose who may bring their children and who may not as this won't sit well with your guests. Instead reach out to anyone who might be feeling unhappy and explain that you are limited by budget and venue to the number of people who can attend. If you don't want to invite kids, make sure the outer and inner envelopes of your invitations are addressed in such a way that it's clear children aren't included (Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Anderson as opposed to The Anderson Family). If anyone RSVPs with their kids anyway, it's okay to call and gently explain your preference. A wedding website that includes details about your day can also be a good place to include a little explanation.

3. Consider the Venue: One of the easiest ways to naturally cut your guest list is to pick a very small venue. If you're limited by the venue to 20 people it will be easy to explain to uninvited guests. "I've always dreamed of a wedding in this spot but they only accommodate 25 people".

4. Plan a casual party after your wedding to celebrate with everyone. This is how my husband and I chose to handle our tiny guest list. We sent out a save the date card before our actual wedding to let guests know that while we were planning a very intimate ceremony we wanted to celebrate with them at a party to follow. We had a super casual bbq in our yard for a 1/4 of what it would have cost to host them all in a ballroom.

5. Consider cutting plus ones- This is a tricky one. I personally opted to invited fewer people in exchange for those I invited to bring a plus one. However, this can be a very effective way to reduce your guest list and might work just fine for you depending on your crowd.

6. Skip Co-workers, employees or employers: Unless a co-worker is also a best friend, its okay not to invite the office.


A few things to consider:

While you might feel pangs of guilt by not inviting everyone its important to realize that not everyone expects to be invited. Think about how you might feel if they didn't invite you to their wedding. Would you be heart broken? If not, they probably feel the same.

Consider the quality of the experience for your guests. The more guests you invite, the further you must stretch a dollar. If you chose a small, intimate party you'll be able to spend a bit more on an incredibly memorable meal or a delicious champagne. You'll be able to chose from some incredibly romantic small venues with features ballrooms don't have. You'll be able to have real conversations with your guests instead of the obligatory 2 minute conversations per guest.

Communicate clearly with your closest family and friends regarding your reasons for hosing an intimate wedding so that they can address it with others if the subject comes up and you're not there. If you do hear of a friend or family member who is upset about not being invited, pick up the phone and call them. Be gentle when explaining to them how hard it was for you to have to narrow down your list to be able to host a wedding at your venue that fit your budget.


@2023 by Elizabeth Prybylo.  Wells, Maine