How to Cut Your Wedding Guest List: The 9 People to Cross Off Right Now

Meet your zero-drama guest list guide

Updated 12/17/18

Photo by Jenny Fu

The question of how to cut your wedding guest list without stirring up any tension remains one of the great modern wedding conundrums. You understandably want to keep catering and seating costs to a minimum, but also don't want to cause a beef with your mother-in-law after nixing her former coworker's boyfriend from the final tally. And speaking of head count, you and your future spouse probably know a lot more people combined than you realized. So, how exactly do you cut your guest list to a reasonable and affordable number?

Good news—there are a few techniques you can use to do this quickly, sans drama. To help you get started, here are nine people you can easily eliminate from your save-the-date pile and why they shouldn't be invited to your big celebration in the first place.

1. MIA Family Members

If you haven't spoken to some of your relatives in years, don't feel obligated to invite them to your wedding. Remember, your wedding is a celebration for you and the person you're marrying and your immediate family; it's not a family reunion. Don't feel required to extend an invite to everyone in your family tree.

2. Friends You Haven't Heard From in Years

If you're hoping to rectify some of your friendships with people you've grown apart from or no longer speak to frequently, you may feel inclined to invite them to your wedding to make this happen. But between mingling with all your other guests and squeezing in some one-on-one time with your new spouse, your wedding is far too busy an event to attempt to mend any broken relationships.

3. Work Friends

Just because you share a cubicle with a person at work or you eat lunch with them on occasion doesn't mean they have to make your guest list—especially if you're keeping your wedding small. Instead, plan a work happy hour to celebrate.

4. Wedding Invites from Long Ago

If you have anyone on your guest list you're inviting just because they invited you to their own wedding years ago, do yourself a favor and cross them off. Unless they're still good friends of yours, there's no obligation to invite them to your celebration.

5. Neighbors

They may live next to you, but your close proximity doesn't mean buying them dinner on your big day. Unless you're super friendly with them on the regular, don't feel obligated. If you're worried it may get awkward not to invite them or you feel you need to acknowledge the elephant in the room in passing, just inform them that you wanted to keep the celebration small.

6. Friends With a Track Record

If you have that one friend who's infamous as an unruly wedding guest or is always getting kicked out of bars and clubs, you may want to consider cutting them from your list. If they're a nonnegotiable on the invite list, make sure to have a discussion with them pre-wedding for some ground rules (or hire extra security who can swoop in if assistance is needed).

7. Kids of Family and Friends

A quick way to minimize your guest list is to make your wedding adults only. You'll have to break the news gently to the moms and dads in your crew, but if anything, they may look to your wedding as a time when they can kick up their heels and enjoy a kid-free night.

8. Plus-Ones You've Never Met

You don't have to give any of your guests a plus-one who aren't in a relationship. And if they are—and you've never met the person—you shouldn't feel obligated, unless, of course, it's your BFF's boyfriend who lives across the country and logistics are the only reason for the lack of meeting.

9. Friends of Your Parents or In-Laws You've Never Met

You can't dodge the fact that both sets of 'rents will want to pencil in their own guest list requests (especially if they're helping foot the bill), but draw the line if it's a member of their social circle you've never encountered before. Just know that some circumstances, say your father-in-law's business partner, may warrant an exception based on the nature of the relationship.

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