How to Make a Wedding Guest List Without Breaking the Bank

wedding guest list

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Planning your wedding may have been something that you have always dreamed of as a child. It was going to be a magical time and so much fun to put together an elaborate ceremony. But planning a wedding isn’t always fun and exciting. In fact, it can be downright stressful.

One of the main things that future newlyweds struggle with the most when putting together their wedding plans is the guest list.

Why the Wedding Guest List Can Be a Major Hassle

Putting together your wedding guest list may not seem like a big problem but it really can be, especially if you are planning to hold your ceremony at a venue that has limited seating. Whether you are trying to cut corners with a smaller venue or you have your heart set on a particular location that only allows a certain number of guests, this choice could impact your wedding guest list in a big way.

You may choose a venue that can only hold around 200 guests, and your current guest list exceeds that number. So you will start the process of removing people from the list. But who should you remove? Former classmates, co-workers, extended family members? Will the people that you must remove be offended or will they understand?

There are also some wedding venues that are strictly adult-only locations. This means that you won’t be able to invite children to the ceremony, the reception, or both events. This could also cause some hurt feelings among family members, especially if you have a sibling who was planning to bring along their children to the event.

Coming Up with a Wedding List that Won’t Break the Bank

Another reason why you may need to remove some people from your wedding guest list is because you need to stay within your wedding budget. You may be paying for the entire event on your own and that can add up quickly. That means you may have to cut down on the amount of food at the reception or the number of guests altogether.

If you want to keep your wedding guest list intact yet still save on your wedding costs, there are a few things you can do to help you make the most of your wedding budget.

Choose a Different Type of Venue with No Guest Limits

If you don’t mind having your wedding somewhere else as long as it means your wedding guest list can stay the same, there are plenty of alternate options out there. An outdoor wedding at a nearby farm, garden, or ranch may accommodate your guests better. Or you can choose to have a backyard wedding at your home, your parent’s home, or anyone who is willing to share their large backyard with you for the day. An indoor wedding inside a large home is another option to consider.

Look around your local community and consider nearby state parks, community buildings, or churches that would accommodate your wedding day needs without charging you a fortune. These locations may allow you to invite as many guests as you want as long as they have enough space for everyone.

Consider Having a Private Wedding and Open Reception

One way that you can enjoy the best of both worlds is by having a private wedding ceremony with just your immediate family and closest friends present. Then you can host a big reception party afterward and invite everyone on your original guest list to attend.

You may end up spending more money on the reception itself than the actual wedding, and that means you can afford to serve more food and hire a great DJ.

Have More Than One Ceremony

It may seem like it would cost more, but depending on how you do it, it actually wouldn’t. You could have a smaller ceremony at a fancy chapel for close friends and family, then a larger ceremony at a bigger venue such as an outdoor garden or a community center. This is a great way to share your big day with everyone you love while saving money at the same time.

Get Officially Wed Before the Party

Perhaps you want to celebrate your marriage with all your friends and family more than you want a big ceremony. If that is the case, you can become legally married without all the bells and whistles by visiting the Justice of the Peace.

Once everything is finalized, host a big party at a low-cost venue where you can invite as many guests as you want. Instead of splurging on decorations and the cost of a fancy wedding venue, you can save your money for the honeymoon instead or use it to pay for the reception.

Is the Wedding Guest List Just Not Working Out with Your Budget? Time to Cut It

If you have tried out every scenario and the wedding guest list just isn’t complying with your budget, it’s time to make cuts. You may not want to do it, but you don’t want to give up on the special parts of the ceremony that mean the most to you and your future spouse just so that you can invite everyone you had in mind. Remember, at the end of it all, this is your special day.

Cut the Guest List to Save Your Wedding Budget

Wedding planners and other experts will agree that the best way to save your wedding budget is to cut your guest list. The smaller your list is, the less you will need to spend on space, food, and beverages, just to name a few.

Just how does a smaller guest list help you save money on a wedding? It’s basic math. If you have 50 guests, you will need 50 seats, 50 plate dinners, 50 programs, 50 invites, 50 favors, etc. And most people will have more than 50 guests, so if you consider paying that much for 100, 200, or even 300 guests, you are going to spend a large amount of your wedding budget on your guests alone.

Trimming your guest list won’t just help you stick to your budget, it will also ensure that you have a better time with your close friends and family at the reception. It is nearly impossible to get around to 300 guests and thank them for coming to your wedding.

The time you spend swapping small talk with people you barely know you could be spending with your best friends, your siblings, or your grandparents who traveled a long way to be there. When you think about it, cutting your wedding guest list is actually more considerate to the people you are closest to.

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions to Narrow Down Your List

When that list starts to get out of hand, it’s time to remove some guests. Here are a few things you should ask yourself about each guest you are on the fence about to help you make a final decision.

  1. Have both the bride and groom met this person?
  2. Will this person be a part of the next chapter of your life?
  3. If this is a relative, have you seen or spoken to them in the last three years?
  4. If the person is a plus one, is the couple married, engaged, or living together?
  5. Do you feel obligated to invite this person or do you actually want them to be there?

How to Successfully Cut Your Wedding Guest List

First you should make a list of all the must-have people that you have to invite. This includes your immediate family and your closest friends. Maybe an awesome co-worker or two. If you want, you can stop the list right there and have a very small intimate wedding instead of a large celebration. Or you can continue trimming the original list.

After you complete the list of guests you have to invite, start a list of additional people you feel like you are obligated to invite. This might include childhood friends, extended family members, college roommates, co-workers, or fellow church members.

Final Thoughts to Keep in Mind

If you and your fiancé are footing the bill for your wedding and reception and you are on a tight budget, you are not obligated to invite everyone who has ever been a part of your life to the ceremony. Plenty of couples have small intimate weddings and enjoy their ceremony just as much as those who have large weddings.

Keep in mind that it is your special day and while you have to invite some guests, there are others that you may not be able to. And that’s okay. If a cut guest is upset, explain the situation to them. They should understand that you have to stay within a budget and that this is your big day no matter what. If they still don’t understand why they aren’t invited, then it may be time to cut more than the guest list.

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