Teems
Super October 2009

The "Small" Wedding: How do you keep your guest list down?

Teems, on May 21, 2009 at 6:58 PM Posted in Planning 0 35
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I was having a small wedding... but before I knew it... I told too many people about my engagement and found myself having a hard time saying "NO" to people coming.

I cut my list but now its jumping back up From (100-150). Between feeling guilty and family additions I have become this softy- lol

I have so many people that I care about and would like to share this day with but its not financially possible to provide the quality that I imagine as the list rises. I feel so caught up that I am actually looking forward to people declining the invitations. Sad right?

Is anyone else struggling keeping their guest list down? Vent with me... lol

35 Comments

  • A
    Devoted August 2009
    amc ·
    • Flag

    I totally agree! I know exactly what you mean about hoping people can't make it.

    We originally thought maybe 150 people max, but after we got the lists of our families and friends together it reached 300!! We shaved some of them off, but it is so hard to know where to draw the line. For example, I'm not close to all of my dad's side of my family, but I don't feel like I can invite one aunt and not another, you know? And he has 9 siblings, most of which have children who ALSO have children. Agh

    We are at around 250 people on the guest list now, which is way bigger than we wanted but we don't really know what to do with it. We could afford it, but I'm hoping something magically happens before I make the invitations (in two weeks) to reduce the guest list.

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  • N
    Beginner May 2009
    Natese ·
    • Flag

    I feel ya girl!!!! I planned for 120 and my guest list has ballooned to 185. My mom has invited everyone she has ever met and my aunt who is like my mom has done the same thing. They are pitching in a little money but not a lot so I had to draw the line. I should have drawn the line about 65 guests ago. LOL.

    • Reply
  • Lacy
    Master October 2017
    Lacy ·
    • Flag

    I had the same problem. But remember this, usually only about 3/4 of the people you send invitation to actually come to the wedding. If you invited 100, probably 75 will actually come.

    I have a large family. My FH doesn't. When I added all my friends, family, and families of friends, it got to 125. I was freaking out because my FH and I are paying for the wedding ourselves and our budget was at max $5000 (I've got it at $3000-$3500 now). My solution, thanks to my mother, was to have a private ceremony at the JP. Our parents and bridal party will be our witnesses. I was struggling with my guest list because it had to stay at 60 people if I did a public ceremony (and this is doing both at my FH's parent's home). So since I've decided to have a private ceremony at the JP (to my FH's happiness), I can now invite everyone. So now I'm able to have my dream reception for 125 people for $3500.

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  • ruth
    Expert July 2009
    ruth ·
    • Flag

    OMG I so know what you are talking about. we wanted a small wedding and before you know it our list was at 400. We really sat down and knew that we had to cut the list way down. We decided to have an Adult reception and not have any kids but our own at the wedding which helped alot because everyone we know has 2-3 kids. We also are not inviting people that we don't talk to very often. It is kind of sad becausde there are quite a few people that I really want at the wedding but we really can't afford it. We cut our list to 200 people which was really hard to do because we only have a budget of $3,000. Thank goodness my mom taught me how to find a bargan. Oh and let me tell you I really wish that people would say that they can't make it. I have 2 weeks till the date I gave everyone to have thier RSVP's back and we have about 98 people who have said they are coming and at this piont I hope that is it (not really but you know what I mean).

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  • Teems
    Super October 2009
    Teems ·
    • Flag

    @ AMC I know my list is gonna increase to very close to 200. My family is big too. And I am already getting questions about more people after sending save the dates...

    The crazy party is that family members said the were going to help but what they are contributing can barely but a dent it what this will all cost in the end.

    @ Natese you can say that again. If it weren't for save the dates going out already I would have revised my list again. I really should have drew the line but I was under the impression I would have more financial help and that what I have. And my fiance keeps telling me not to worry. Lol I guess he thinks hes bill gates. I am grateful to what people have contributed though...

    @ jlacy1987 I really should have done justice of the peace and threw a big party later. I don't know what I was thinking.... I would have loved to be at your budget but I got caught up and I am stuck with an "average" priced wedding. I wont even say... lol :-X

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  • Teems
    Super October 2009
    Teems ·
    • Flag

    @ ruth mmm hmmn. I get it! I really wish that I wish I spoke to people like you when I was creating this ridiculous budget. People really need to share their secret to small budget. I tried but it wouldn't work lol. I think I am also conflicted between family and guests that are a little more bourgeois than I am about things. Too many people influenced my decisions that aren't paying my bills. I really don't want to fall in to the category of "newly wed debt" lol keeping my fingers crossed.

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  • Lacy
    Master October 2017
    Lacy ·
    • Flag

    The only reason my budget is at $3000-$3500 now is because I'm not doing the regular ceremony. I'm not paying for venues because I'm having the reception at my FH's parents' home. I'm not catering my food and I'm getting my wedding cake (which is cheesecake) from a local supermarket.

    Here is a breakdown of my budget:

    Food and Drink: $575

    Cake (groom's cake and wedding cake): $115

    Invitations/Stationary/Stamps: $118

    Flowers (silk from afloral.com): $110

    Decorations: $145

    Rentals (chairs, dinnerware, linens, tents, tables, cake stands): $1178.40

    Photography (from a friend): $500

    Miscelleneous (napkins, serving bowls, bubble wands, guest book and pen): $103.83

    I'm saving money by not doing favors. I doubt my guests will mind. I've searched and searched online for cheap deals. And I'm having it at home. Those are my only secrets. My budget was originally $6400 (even though I can only afford $5000) when I was doing a normal ceremony.

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  • J
    Just Said Yes October 2009
    jessicaclaire ·
    • Flag

    I'm struggling with this myself right now too, especially since my STD's are going out on Tuesday! I have found that the only way for me to keep the list small is to invite only family and very close friends that I see regularly. All acquaintances and people I'm not close with anymore aren't getting invites. I'm trying with every fiber of my being to keep the wedding to 75 guests, and it's creeping up by 5 every week it seems.

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  • Nick
    Just Said Yes October 2010
    Nick ·
    • Flag

    Before FH and I decided on a private ceremony, we were writing down a guest list and before we knew it, it was hitting the over 100 mark!!!

    What we ended up doing was making a few rules and stuck by them.

    A: Family and friends we talk to regulary

    B: Every guest needs to know both of us.

    I also got the Anti-Bride book from Barnes and Noble....great book! But they have a section in there for the guest list, and they have it broken up "A", "B", and "C" list

    "A" list contains names of people who must be there

    "B" list people who should be there

    "C" list people who you would like to be there if there is room

    It's a great thing to go by actually, it ended up cutting our guest list down to 62... and that's the "A" and "B" list for us.

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  • soccrgrl05
    Dedicated June 2009
    soccrgrl05 ·
    • Flag

    You can go a little over the amount of people when sending out invitations. From what I have witnessed (with my wedding and my brother's wedding) only 75% of people tops that you send invites to are actually going to come. So if you are worried about inviting 200 people and you really want 150 it will be ok. Don't panic, and you will probably only have 75% of them. Are you inviting family friends? If so, did you invite their entire family? they might not all come. Same with family members out of the state or even friends and neighbors. Not all of them might come. It could just be the couple. If you are really worried, make it an adult only affair, especially if there are a lot of kids. Saves you a ton. The kids don't really eat all that much anyway, but you still have to pay for the individuals.... dumb if you ask me.

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  • Teems
    Super October 2009
    Teems ·
    • Flag

    You all have great Idea. Thanks! I really want to get that book but I feel like I am so late. I will look into it. Actually the majority of my guests are out of state. A good percentage actually. I recently moved so a lot of people are a 4hr drive away.

    • Reply
  • Nick
    Just Said Yes October 2010
    Nick ·
    • Flag

    As long as you haven't sent out the invites, it's not too late. Plus the book is helpful with other things. Pretty much a lot of things that are on here, but you can have the book with you 24/7, or if you cut out a pic from a magazine or something, you can put it in the book.

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  • Amanda
    Devoted May 2010
    Amanda ·
    • Flag

    This is so hard! I love big parties and wanted to invite so many people but once I started looking at prices per person we knew we had to cut back. Our list was at 180 (fastly gaining to 200) then I put my foot down and right now it is at a solid 100. We went through and only invited 1st aunts/uncles/cousins (no extended family) and we came up with a rule for inviting friends. We have been together a year and if in that year I hadn't met his friend or he hadn't met mine they got cut from the list. We made a few exceptions for out of town friends. Also we are not allowing single friends dates. Unless you are in a serious relationship you are coming alone. Since our list is so small though I figured out that about 95% of the people invited will for sure come. Not alot of room for a "B" list. Thankfully my parents are helping us pay and they are very understanding about cutting the guest list since they see how much everything is costing.

    • Reply
  • Gershelda
    VIP October 2009
    Gershelda ·
    • Flag

    We were too..having a small wedding. The guest list began with 20 ppl, and now it's close to 100!!! And I haven't even got a guest list from FH parents yet! We are going to have to seriously cut the list and yeah, have no idea who to cut. I, too, am looking forward to RSVP's being declined. We are forking the bill for all the wedding and the reception, and we are on a very tight budget, so someone will have to be cut...and that's the hard part, b/c everyone that is on the list (so far) we want there. It's hard and of course, you dont' want to hurt anyones feelings, but I just keep telling myself and FH that ppl just have to understand...I know that don't, but you do what you have to do, right?

    • Reply
  • Mandi
    Savvy September 2009
    Mandi ·
    • Flag

    Tell me about it!!! We had planned to have a destination wedding on the beach in Key West, FL. Then before I knew it my FH's family had decided that a destination wedding just would not work for them. I could understand their concerns, since he is the first to get married and has a large family, so we came to a compromise and started planning a local wedding that would be kept small, about 110 guests. Well that was not upheld either. Shortly after booking a venue we received lists of people that our parents wanted added to the guest list. Our small wedding has blown up and is now a formal HUGE event with a price tag to match. However, FH and I decided that we would only invite children of immediate family. This cut the list down a little. We are still looking at about 150 people at $75 a head. So I guess to sum this rambling up, I feel your pain. LOL Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Reply
  • Kim Avilez
    November 2019
    Kim Avilez ·
    • Flag

    I too know exactly what you're going through. I experienced a similar situation when I planned my own wedding, and I see it with the brides I work with. Plan your day based on what is in your wallet. I can say that too many times. If you can only afford 100 people please do not envite 150 thinking most won't show. Though averages state that about 20% won't show, you just never know. My inlaws wanted us to invite family from Central America & California claiming that most wont' come. Well everyone on my list showed with the exception of 1 person who was very ill and could not get permission to fly. Here is what one previous client did that may work for you she had intimate family reception and very close friends at the reception. The weekend before her wedding she had a small cocktail party at her home. Fun simple food, wine, beer, and music. She sent out elegant but simple invites for the prewedding bash. Most people just want to feel included some way and share in your joy.

    • Reply
  • FMS, the barefoot wife!
    Master August 2010
    FMS, the barefoot wife! ·
    • Flag

    This is one of the 'mini 'fights me and my FH had. Both our families are huge, and although he hasn't made his guest list ( I have, 135 people! and I know I forgot a couple!) He thinks its SO easy to make cuts! Our side of the family was very close while I was growing up, so I have lots of people that are on my list as 'really want them to be there' and I have no Idea how to make cuts! I've invited only first cousins and their children, and few other cousins that I'm very close with. Now here's what makes me mad, FH says, "cut people" and the MAJORITY of the cousins on my list are HIS FRIENDS!! I'm friends with them too, but somehow that seems unfair, not only does he get to invite people on his list, Almost ALL his friends are on MINE!! ugg..Can't wait till he makes his list out..maybe he'll realize the stress of cutting people!

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  • J
    Savvy June 2009
    jed103100 ·
    • Flag

    We decided to cut our wedding down to only family members and the wedding party. We snuck in 2 of our close friends because we came up with important jobs for them. Our final number is 48 people. We are then having a bbq the next weekend in Austin with the rest of his friends and family that couldn't make it (about 100 ppl). So, I get the beautiful wedding I wanted with the people that we are closest to, and he's happy because everyone else will come to the bbq that's costing $500! When we told all of our friends that we were doing it this way, nobody had hurt feelings. Everyone completely understood. They all still came to the bridal shower and all of that stuff. It worked out perfectly for us and I have no regrets. In fact, 15 days before the wedding, I'm wishing we would have eloped! It's so difficult with 50 ppl., I couldn't deal with any more!

    • Reply
  • Teems
    Super October 2009
    Teems ·
    • Flag

    @Amanda I wanted to do the single rule for all my college friends since they will already know each other. However my family was against it. There opinion matter so much because I thought they were contributing more.

    @gharman Thats my biggest problem in wedding planing is getting people to understand how much this all cost and the kind of presure us brides are subjected to. By family, inactive fiances (with planning), and most importantly...Financially. There should be a class on how to say no, put your foot down and do what is in the best interest for YOU!

    @Mandi Venting is good! lol I am doing the immediate family member kids and that is the only thing that I do not have a problem with putting my foot down. I have a ton of cousins that are children. Unfortunately that rule only helps a little. I cant deal with anymore. Many of my fiances friends had kids within the last year and that's way too many babies.

    @Kim A. That WAS my plan... lol

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  • Teems
    Super October 2009
    Teems ·
    • Flag

    @Future Mrs.Schmidt My fiance tried to say the same thing. I think even when he makes his list out, cutting people will be "easy" lol Its the brides that have to face people with excuses when they ask about wedding plans.

    @jed103100 the closer I get the more I think about Elopement. I'm sure you wont have regrets once its all over. hopefully me either...

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