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The Ultimate Guide to Cutting Your Wedding Guest List

Planning Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Cutting Your Wedding Guest List


You and your fiancé have both sat down and noted down your wedding guest list for each side. You’re probably feeling really good because you’ve remembered everyone and it seems like all of the people who you want there are on the list…until you count them all up and the number keeps increasing…70…100…120…150…200!! Maybe even more!! 

When my husband and I were engaged, we both had a rough number in our heads before even putting pen to paper. We were looking at around 50 people, we wanted it to be small and intimate and actually have the time during the day to walk around and not only say hi to everyone, but to actually sit down and chat with them, laugh with them and dance with them! My mum jokes that our family is a “rent-a-crowd”. My family alone (without friends), can reach up to 40. Compared to other families that might not seem like much, but when you want a wedding of only 50 guests, there doesn’t leave much room for anyone else.

Are you nodding your head in agreement with everything I’ve just said and silently screaming in your head “GIVE ME THE BLOODY ANSWER!”? Good! Because this guide is exactly for you. This guide is an accumulation of everything I’ve learned about culling Guest Lists, the relief it can give you by crossing people off, and a step-by-step guide in getting your numbers down, and feeling good about it. So grab a coffee (wine if your at your wits end), pen and paper, and let’s get to it!

Step One: Write down every man and his dog

Before we even put pen to paper, there are two questions you need to ask yourself (actually ask your fiancé):

NUMBER 1: What is our budget.
Essentially, your budget = your guest list, and your guest list = your budget. If you’re budget allows for 200+ guests, and you want them all there, then by all means go ahead and invite them all! There isn’t anyone telling you, you can’t have that many people there. Just make sure that your budget allows for it, easy as that!

NUMBER 2: What kind of wedding do you want?
I’m not talking about theme, colours or the venue. I mean what kind of VIBE do you want at your wedding? Do you want a lot of people, a massive party, Lionel-Richie-style? (All Night Long!) . OR did you want a more intimate, casual affair? You can still have the crazy, dancing on the tables type party with a smaller group, but you just need to decide which one you want. Your budget may allow for 200+ people to be invited, but if you don’t want that kind of wedding, then you don’t have to have them all there. Choose big or small, and stick with it!

"Do you want a lot of people, a massive party, Lionel-Richie-style? (All Night Long!). OR did you want a more intimate, casual affair?"

Ok let’s get into it. Now that magic number that is in your head that you’re so desperately clinging on to? Just for this step, get rid of that magical number and toss it in the bin. We don’t want to be let down by our previous expectations, you’ll just feel like shit, and we don’t want that.

Get your pen, paper (take a big gulp of your wine), and write down everyone you know that you WANT at your wedding. Not just anyone, like that old man on the corner near the grocery shop who break dances for coins. Think of everyone in your family (yes the rent-a-crowd), your partners family, your friends, their friends, work colleagues, different friend groups (yoga friends, puppy-club friends, drinking friends, your mum’s friends etc). So once you’ve written down everyone on your list, take another sip of wine and count them up. Don’t immediately start panicking over the number, just decide if you wish to cut it down. If you do, excellent! Let’s move onto Step 2. If you’re happy with your list and your budget can allow for everyone, then congratulations! I can tell you’re going to have one, massive kick-arse party!! Can you put my name on the guest list too please?

Step Two: Let’s Start Culling

Now I want you to get a big red pen, and we are going to go through the list together. Below I have a FREE DOWNLOAD for you, The “Should I Invite This Person” Guide! Download this guide, and use it for each guest that you are second guessing about inviting. It will make you ask yourself “Have I spoken to them in the last 6 months?” Or “Are they a close friend?”. Use this guide for the people you are second guessing about, and it will give you a straight up, honest answer of whether you should invite them or not. Too easy! 

Should I Invite this person to my wedding guide Guest List

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Hopefully by the end of this exercise, you should have cut a fair chunk of people from your Guest List. Ask yourself “am I happy with this group of people?” If you answered yes, congratulations!! You have your final Guest List! But if you want to go even further for a small, intimate gathering, then let’s proceed ahead to Step Three!

Step Three: It’s time to colour baby!

This step isn’t so much about cutting the list down further (If you do, feel free to do a second round using The “Should I Invite This Person” Guide!) This step is all about strategy. Here’s a handy little wedding statistic: Did you know that 80% of your guests you invite will actually attend!? Imagine if you’ve spent time agonising over whether you should invite a particular person or not, and they end up RSVP-ing no?! Not to worry, we are going to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

To help with this, we are going to categories the guest list into 2 groups: 

1. Yes, they just have to be there! (Close family, best friends)
2. I would like them there, but not a must (Extended family, friends you haven’t seen in awhile, work colleagues).

Grab 2 different coloured highlighters or pencils, and allocate each one to the 2 categories above. These will be your “First Round” and “Second Round” for when you send out the invitations.

Give your First Round of guests a month to RSVP (depending on your timeline). Once you know who couldn’t make it from the First Round, send out Round Two (or how ever many you can accommodate within your budget). Feel free to have a Third Round of people, and send out their invitations once you have Round Two RSVP’s back. 


Cutting Down Guest List for Wedding

Ensure you have sufficient time to do the multiple rounds of invitations. First Round should go out 3 months prior (with one month for RSVPs), Second Round should go out 2 months prior (with a few weeks for RSVPs), and if you’re doing a Third Round, they should go out 6 weeks before the wedding. Double check with your caterer or venue for when they need final numbers before doing this. 

Hopefully by now, you should have a Guest List that you’re happy with (and possibly an empty glass of wine, go fill her back up). Use The “Should I Invite This Person” Guide, print her off and stick with your decision of who’s invited, and who isn’t. I wish I could say that the Guest List is probably the hardest thing you will have to endure during your wedding planning, but it’s more than likely something else will come and barrage through your engagement bliss. When it does, just keep that bottle of wine close by, and pour me out a glass too!

So you’ve got your Wedding Guest List all finalised? Well Done! How about we get a start on those invitations and you can cross another thing off your To-Do List? Find your perfect pre-designed invitation here! They can be completely customised to you! You can change the colours, fonts, wording, whatever you wish!


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