The Dreaded Guest List & 5 Ways to Tackle It | Blog

The Dreaded Guest List & 5 Ways to Tackle It

I polled all my past brides and grooms about what the worst part of wedding planning was and the feedback was almost unanimous – the guest list. Let me tell you, I’m right there with you. My husband and I spent hours, maybe days, pouring over the guest list and trying to juggle opinions, feelings, the venue limit, and budget. My husband wanted to invite every single person he had ever shook hands with, and I wanted the absolute bare minimum. It’s a struggle, I get it. So here’s some tips on how to tackle it and hopefully make it as stress-free as possible.

Chicago bride and groom at outdoor ceremony walking down the aisle.


Nail down your venue, or two, that align with your vision, style, and budget. If a cozy little restaurant on the river is the perfect place for the celebration, then your guest cap is a bit more non-negotiable. If you’re booking a larger venue, then decide if you want an intimate, medium, or larger wedding and set the cap yourself. Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding your perfect venue and then realizing it doesn’t fit your reception needs, so do this first!


It’s not fun sitting down with your significant other and telling them they can’t bring all 50 of their “best friends” or coworkers. Go to a winery, your favorite coffee shop, or tuck into a booth at your favorite bar/restaurant and turn it into a date night to ease the hard conversations and the task of adding and cutting people, which can sometimes take hours.


One of my couples did this and I thought it was genius: put everyone you want to attend your big day into a spreadsheet and categorize them into a few categories: Wedding Party, Spouse A Family, Spouse B Family, Spouse A Friends, Spouse B Friends, Family Friends. Then ask yourself a few questions:

Have we seen them in a year? Would we buy them dinner? Do our parents want them there? Would we feel bad for not inviting them? Dancing Skills? Alcohol Consumption?

Rate each question 1-5 for each guest in each category, 1 being a yes and 5 being no. Add the total score together, and you have yourself an A, B, and C group based on ranking!

Chicago wedding invitation, jewelry, and shoes shot.


To avoid drama and hurt feelings, give your parents an allocated number of guests to invite and ask them to create an A, B, and maybe C list depending on how large your list is. Add it to your list with the same categories and divide accordingly. Make sure the guest list is approved by them before you send it out too, especially if you had to cut a few of their people.

The A, B, and C lists also allow you to stagger invites if you wish to do so. Just make sure the B and C lists still have time to send in their RSVP’s, usually about 6-8 weeks out from the wedding date!


Don’t be afraid to cut any kids out of the picture, especially the second cousin who is on #5. It’s perfectly ok to cut out all children and it’s also perfectly ok to invite your 5 year old niece and nephew but request the rest of the wedding is adult only. Nobody will judge you for it, and if they do, that drama is on them. You do you!

Finally, deep breaths! Once your guest list is conquered, move forward with these other resources and check a few more things off your list. You got this!

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