One sure-fire way to control costs and manage the madness for a wedding is to be ruthless in cutting the guest list to only those people you really want to have there for your special day. Unfortunately, one of the easiest ways to upset distant relatives and third-circle friends is to be ruthless in cutting that guest list. From old Aunt Ruth who has known you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper and wants to see you finally get hitched, to your friend Larry’s friend Larry who just wants to hit up the cash bar, everyone wants to come to your wedding.
Fortunately, with a little bit of outside-the-box thinking, you can get the guest list down without heating up any tempers. Here are a few options to consider:
Small Ceremony, Big Reception
Do you have three hundred people who want to attend the wedding, but you’ve got your heart set on the chapel from youth camp that only seats 50? Or do you just want your vows to be a more private, intimate ritual than you’d get with an audience of hundreds? Invite just a select few to your wedding ceremony, and then make sure you’ve got a big setting for the reception and bring everyone in for the celebration. Your invitations can read, “the bride and groom will be having a small, private ceremony, but invite you to join us in the celebration afterward!” Any hurt feelings will be smoothed over after a few cocktails.
Small Ceremony, Party Later
Invite only your closest friends and family to your ceremony, and then have a big party a week later to celebrate the wedding. It can be a more informal affair than a wedding reception would be, but still enable people to give you their best wishes.
Threaten a Destination Wedding
If the mother-in-law-to-be is freaking out that Aunt Mildred and Uncle Milton aren’t going to be invited, casually mention that you’ve been thinking of having a destination wedding: just you and your spouse and a minister on the beach in Tahiti, quiet and intimate. Mention that all of your friends are totally cool with not being at the ceremony; leave travel brochures around the house. Once the nuclear option is on the table, it’s surprising how willing parents are to help cull the guest list.
Only Invite the Guests You as a Couple Want to Invite
This seems like obvious advice, but when the panic of guest-list inflation sets in, it becomes hard to remember that you are in control of the process. If you want a small wedding but you have three hundred relatives on each side that are clamoring to come–don’t invite them and have the small wedding that you want. If you don’t want to invite your creepy Uncle or that friend from high school you still hang out with occasionally but don’t have anything in common with, go ahead and leave them off the list. True friends and loving family know that, at the end of the day, it’s about you and your spouse-to-be. Anyone who would stress out your wedding plans by threatening hurt feelings over not getting an invite is going to be more trouble than they’re worth.
If you have the money, time, and energy to deal with a huge wedding, by all means keep that 300+ guest list. But if you’re short on any of the above, you have our permission not to feel guilty about cutting that guest list to the bone.