Creating a guest list is one of the hardest tasks on your wedding to-do list. Or, to be more specific, creating a guest list that fits within your budget and your venue is difficult! Once you start thinking about extended family and old friends, that list can grow quickly. And if you’re able to invite everyone, that’s great. But that isn’t always the case, and it can be daunting to cut down your wedding guest list.

Of course, you want to invite everyone to your special day, but that isn’t always possible. Your wedding venue might have stricter capacity requirements, or you may have budget limitations to consider. Regardless, it’s not easy to cut down your wedding guest list, especially if you have to make major changes. So let’s explore seven ways you can trim your list without feeling like you’re missing someone.

1. Choose Your Must-Have Guests

Before you can start cutting down your wedding guest list, you have to know how many people you need to remove. If you know what your maximum capacity is, simply subtract that from your the number of guests currently on your list. That’s the number of guests you have to trim from your list.

From there, go back through your list and mark everyone who you absolutely want to invite. If you’re using a spreadsheet, you can hide the rows that have those individual’s names in them. For paper lists, you can highlight them or mark them in a different color so you don’t accidentally remove them. The leftover names are the ones that you can trim down.

So now you know how many names you need to trim, and you know what names are eligible for trimming. It’s time to cut down your wedding guest list.

2. Limit Your Parents’ Guest Lists

If any of the parents are paying for part—or all—of the wedding, it’s customary for those parents to invite some of their own friends. Even if your parents aren’t contributing financially, they might still want certain people to attend. Limiting the number of people your parents invite is a great way to keep your headcount low.

To do this, you can give each parent a set number of people they can invite, and you should be the one to mail the invitations. This means that your parents give you their friends’ names, instead of mailing the invitations on their own. That way, you can make sure they’re staying within their limits. (And you can still keep an accurate track of your guest list!)

3. Skip Your Colleagues

7 ways to cut down your wedding guest list

Unless you’re close with your colleagues, you don’t need to invite them to your wedding. Put another way, if you don’t hang out with your coworkers outside of work, then you don’t need to invite them to your wedding. (Work lunches don’t count!) Some colleagues may expect an invitation, but if you don’t invite anyone from work, then no one is being left out. And if you do have close friends at work, you’re not inviting them as coworkers—you’re inviting them as friends.

4. Rethink the Plus Ones

You may be tempted to generously hand out plus ones, but that isn’t always best for you or your guest list. In general, you don’t want a lot of people you don’t know at your wedding. And of course, more plus ones means a longer guest list. There aren’t really any hard-and-fast rules for extending plus ones, but it’s common for the wedding party to receive plus ones or certain guests who might not know anyone else at the wedding beside the couple.

It’s important to note here that a plus-one isn’t necessarily the same as someone’s serious significant other—even if you haven’t met their significant other. For example, if you have a friend with a live-in or serious partner, you should invite them both to your wedding, with both of their full names. But if you have a friend who is casually dating, not dating at all, or just got into a new relationship, you would extend a plus one. In other words, plus ones aren’t about how well you know them; they’re about how well your friend or family member knows them.

5. Don’t Return the Favor

If you’re looking for ways to cut down your wedding guest list, skip the social obligation. For example, if you’re only inviting someone because they invited you to their wedding, take their name off the list. This is especially true if you don’t talk to them regularly or haven’t seen them since their wedding. For such a special day, you want to focus on guests that you want there—especially when you’re trimming.

If you are worried about hurting someone’s feelings by not inviting them, you can always send them a message or make a general post on social media that you’re keeping the wedding list small and you wish you could invite everyone, but you had to keep budget and venue restrictions in mind. Most people will understand. (And if they don’t, maybe it’s best that they’re not at your wedding.)

6. Consider the Future

It’s really easy to be nostalgic during wedding planning. You’re excited, you’re in love, and you want to share that day. Maybe you’re remembering your childhood best friend or high school soccer teammates. But if you don’t talk to any of those people—no matter how close you were then—they shouldn’t get an invite when you’re looking to trim. (If you do want to reconnect with past friends, we recommend starting with coffee instead of skipping right to a wedding.) Instead, you should think about those individuals who you want to keep talking to after the wedding.

7. Keep it Kid-Free

keep it kid-free to cut down your wedding guest list

If you’ve limited your parents’ invites, eliminated the socially obligatory invites, capped the plus ones, kept the nostalgia at bay, and you’re still close to or over your limit, consider an adults-only wedding. While this can be a polarizing decision, every child guest is an adult guest who isn’t invited. If your friends and family don’t have many kids, this many not be an issue. But if you’re noticing that the little ones are adding up, you may want to consider asking them to sit this event out.


You want to celebrate with everyone on your special day, but sometimes your budget and your venue don’t allow for that. When that happens, the best thing you can do is think about how well you know the people on your guest list. Try to limit your parents’ guests, skip the colleagues, and be picky about plus ones—just to name a few.

How else could you consider cutting down your wedding guest list? Share them with us below!