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. Maybe it’s old Aunt Ruth who has known you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper and wants to see you finally get hitched. Or perhaps it’s your friend Larry’s friend Larry who just wants to hit up the cash bar. Either way, 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 Wedding Guest List for the Reception

Do you have three hundred people who want to attend the wedding? What if you’ve got your heart set on the chapel from youth camp that only seats 50? Or maybe you just want your vows to be a more private, intimate ritual than you’d get with an audience of hundreds. Combat it by inviting a select few to your wedding ceremony. Then, just 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 Wedding Guest List for the Ceremony, Party Later

Invite only your closest friends and family to your ceremony. Afterwards, have a big party a week later to celebrate the wedding. It can be a more informal affair than a wedding reception would be. However, you’ll still enable people to give you their best wishes.

Threaten a Destination Wedding

What if the mother-in-law-to-be is freaking out that Aunt Mildred and Uncle Milton aren’t going to be invited? Just 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.

Image of a Wedding Guest List TrackerOnly 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. Perhaps 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.

Maybe 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. Plus, it will cut down on the number of wedding sparklers you’ll need to buy!