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How To: Pare Down Your Wedding Guest List

Today we’re lucky to ask JOWY Productions, experts in the event planning industry about how to pare down that guest list. This is one of the most challenging tasks for the soon-to-be bride and groom. When it comes to the big day you want to share it with the people who are most important to you. Having a problem deciding on who those people are? Here are some tips from Jodi Cohen and Sarah Lowy who have coordinated events for Oprah, the Grammys, and high end hotels from Dubai to the Bahamas. If you have more ideas or tips feel free to Tweet them or post them on our Facebook wall to share with the community!

Establishing the guest list for your upcoming nuptials can sometimes be a daunting and stressful task. You want to include all of the people that are important in your life and not leave anyone out.  Yet, no matter the size of your budget or location of your wedding there will always be a limit to how many guests you can invite.  Here are a few tips to help alleviate the headache of paring down your guest list:


1. First and foremost determine the size of the wedding you want and can afford. Will it be a small intimate affair?  Do you want a large lavish wedding?  Who will be footing the bill?

2. All family parties create their guest “wish list.” Combine all lists and see how far over the limit you are.

3. Create a 1st tier and 2nd tier list.  Start cutting from the 2nd tier list (bottom up) until you reach your perfect number.

4. Set limits at the start:

  • Children: Are they invited or not invited (maybe children are welcome at the ceremony and then taken home by a sitter).  Also, if you are having a formal wedding, perhaps children are invited to the rehearsal dinner and/or brunch and not the wedding reception and ceremony.

  • Dates: Set a steadfast rule—if your guest lives with their significant other then they are invited.

  • Coworkers: Invite all or none at all.  This should pertain to all groups (book club, bowling league, etc.)

  • Extended Family: Each family is different, but make a rule and stick to it (i.e. no third cousins, if you are not close to them).

5. Be honest about the friends you are inviting.  If you haven’t talked to someone in 2 years and do not see someone regularly, who lives in your town, they probably shouldn’t be on your list.

6. Divide wedding into thirds: 1/3 bride and groom; 1/3 groom’s parents; 1/3 brides parents.  Talk to parents and decide whose list to cut from first (maybe one from each until number is reached).

Keep in mind this is YOUR wedding. Make sure your guest list reflects those that are important to you and your fiancée.