How to Keep a Wedding Guest List Small

Close-up of bride and groom holding hands on their wedding day
The bride and groom and their respective families will need to work together to pare down the list. If money is not the absolute reason for the small guest list for the ceremony, then perhaps a second gathering could be planned for other guests to attend. This is a page about how to keep a wedding guest list small.


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June 12, 2019

Getting married is a big celebration, not only for the soon to be newlyweds but for everyone involved. However bottom line is each and every guest costs money. The more guests, the more expensive your wedding could get. Creating and compromising on the wedding invite list could be difficult depending on your situation.


  • Parents' want to invite far relatives, their friends, even people you may not even know because it's family tradition to do so.

  • When you post new photos on social media of engagement photos and a wedding to come (not necessarily the date) - old colleagues, friends who you no longer speak to may ask when the wedding will be? Then you feel obligated to invite them.

  • Or in situations where you feel obligated to invite people because you know them on an everyday basis like from work, church, neighbors, or wherever.
But here are some tips that helped my fiancé and I narrow down our list:
  1. Focus on the fact that you're paying for the wedding. It's both of your money so that should be the deciding factor on who will be invited. Every guest invited will cost money.

  2. For everyone on your list (obviously family but family you keep in contact with) but for friends - think about how long you have known them and do you see a friendship beyond in say 5 years? Are they more than just acquaintances but classified as "friends, close friends, best friends". You should be inviting ones who you have bonded with, go out with, socialize with, catch up with, go to parties, gatherings, chat, email, essentially communicate with, etc.

  3. We had to decline far family members because we don't know them personally even though it's tradition. Don't feel obligated to invite anyone, ultimately it comes down to soon to be newly weds happiness! You do not need to please others or have guests you feel obligated to invite to your wedding.

  4. If you do have a large family or feel obligated to invite people that you didn't invite to your wedding (co-workers, church groups, long last family, far relatives, friends, neighbors) you could compromise in having a separate party like a wedding celebration at your home or even a pot luck style party. Pot luck style party could be very casual. In lieu of presents, you could ask people to bring a meal to the party. But as the couple, you can give out party favors or serve alcohol, drinks to lower cost for the party.

  5. Ultimately, knocking down ability to bring a date for those single attendees and children can help reduce your cost too, but we are not going down that route. If you are planning to have an adults only wedding, it could be inconvenient for adults to find a sitter, if you want them to attend. Or if you have cousins whom are of age to baby sit and quality to babysit, you can pay a couple of them to baby sit the kids so parents could have a night out to attend your wedding!

Source: Personal experience

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2 Questions

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March 3, 2015

My grandson is marrying a sweet, shy young lady from another state who is planning a very small wedding; as a matter of fact her guest list adds up to 15 people. Economic issues and the fact that her family is uncomfortable with large gatherings underlie these plans. In her wedding party she does include friends that she has made from her groom's area, who will be traveling.

My daughter, the groom's mother, has made a minimal list of people who want to be there and could travel; this swells the count to 80. Even though the venue is an 11-hour drive for the groom's people, there are a number (aunts, uncles, cousins) who really want to celebrate their nephew/cousin's special occasion, and are willing to make the trip. The groom's family loves to get together with each other.


After hearing that the bride is in a panic, I started thinking about ways that we could help reduce the stress for the bride by reducing the guest list, and still celebrate our grandson's marriage. I remembered how when I married his grandfather, his parents and siblings came to our wedding in Kansas. Then we returned to California to live (where he was from) and a groom's reception was held at his church, where we wore our wedding clothes and celebrated a second time, this time with his people.

Actually, the young couple will be settling back in our area. So how about a groom's reception here, which would allow for even more friends to attend? Has anybody else ever done such a thing? What kind of occasion might that be? I've been thinking that it could be something very much like the traditional wedding reception with the wedding party guests wearing their stuff. Another of my daughters has a party barn, which seems to be an ideal venue. Does anyone see any problems with this? Does anyone have any other ideas? Is there a protocol for such situations?


By WonderNana


March 3, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

When I got married in 1964, we decided if we were ever going to get married to do it withing two weeks. Se set a date when we both had a Friday off, which gave us a three day week end, and basically eloped. He wore a basic suit and I had made a white jacquard two piece street length dress. About a month later his parents had a reception for us in their town, which was about two hundred miles from my family, with no nearby motels. This reception for us was his family and friends. Then a couple weeks later there was one for us in my hometown.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 18, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

If the bride is in a panic about the amount of guests, it could be a financial issue (admitting that, is embarassing). Having a second venue with the grooms family will cost more money.


Decide who is paying for each venue. The groom' side should definitely pay for a second venue.

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