7 Ways To Cut Your Wedding Guest List To Save Money

Submitted by Pam on Wednesday - January 22, 2020

Yay, your guest list is done! And then you do the math. 250 guests x food/drinks/cake = OVER budget!

Ugh. Now what? How do you save money, yet have the perfect wedding you dreamed of? An easy way to reduce costs is to cut your wedding guest list. Sure, we all want to invite the world to our weddings … but … budget.

So before figuring out how to make the decisions on who to cut, first you have narrow in on what your cost per guest will be (based off your venues, place settings, food, etc.)

In this example, each guest costs $85:

» Food/drinks/cake = $75 per guest.
» Favor = $5 per guest.
» Table linens/chair covers = $3 per guest.
» Reception paper goods/napkins = $2 per guest.
» Table centerpiece = $35 per table (seats 10 guests)

If you cut your wedding guest list by 10 at $85 per guest = $850 + $35 (one less centerpiece) = $885 saved! So how do you decide who to take off the list?

7 Ways To Cut Your Wedding Guest List To Save Money

 7 ways to cut your wedding guest list

  1. Have an adult-only reception. Depending on how many children were on your initial guest list, this could save a lot of money. You could allow nursing infants (under 1 year old) and nieces and nephews/cousins of any age. Or you could limit inviting children under 12 or 18 years old depending on how many there would be. This could hurt a few feelings so you may want to communicate your reasons (budget/venue). Remember, it is YOUR big day! Here’s some help for your invitation adult-only wording
  2. Do all your coworkers need to be invited? How about your SO (significant other), mother, father, or your in-law’s co-workers? It is nice to involve those you spend your day with, but how many are you as a couple close to? It doesn’t hurt to ask your SO and families. Could you come up with 10 guests if everyone was willing to drop one or two from their list ... or five guests and their plus ones?
  3. High school friends. You haven’t seen each other since graduation (or the first– and last– summer you came home from college). You were close then, but now it is an occasional Facebook, “hi!” Same goes for your SO’s old high school buddies. This also applies to college friends you don’t keep in contact with or haven’t seen in the last couple of years.
  4. You went to their wedding. And you haven’t seen them in years. Take them off the list. You are not obligated to invite someone because you attended their wedding! Use the 1-2 rule: if you haven’t seen or talked to them in one to two years, delete.
  5. Neighbors, yours or your parents’. This could be a challenging one for you if you grew up in a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. Try to look ahead a few years; will they still be in your life as a couple … other than a wave as you get out of the car to visit your parents or in-laws? If not, then let them know you are keeping your wedding intimate or limited to family.
  6. Plus-ones who are not engaged (or in a serious relationship). Sounds a little mean. But is it? You have a friend or two that are serial daters—why spend the money on someone’s plus-one that may not be around a week after your wedding? Maybe limit plus-ones to those who have been dating at least 8-10 months or to those you have met. Remember this is your day to spend time (and money) with those you love.
  7. Fun suckers. You know them, the badly behaved, unruly, or argumentative person. These might be the ones who get kicked out of everywhere after causing a scene. Is it worth inviting them if you are going to be worrying about them doing something embarrassing? If it is a family member you are obligated to invite, have a talk with them telling what behavior is expected. Many venues require security (trained professionals) that can provide help if things get out of hand.

And a couple BONUS ideas for saving money!

  • Track your wedding budget! Use our interactive Ultimate Wedding Budget Calculator and Guide to help you allocate amounts per category, based off your total wedding budget. 
  • Change your menu. If reducing the number of guests is out of the question, then consider a menu change. Most venues and caterers have affordable choices … just ask! Serve chicken rather than filet mignon, or even have a buffet. Each table may have a bottle of champagne or wine for toasting, but another way to reduce your cost is to have a cash bar. This can save significantly if many of your guests are underage.
  • Simplify your wedding décor or DIY. Do you really need chair covers and/or sashes, lush floral centerpieces or candelabras on every table, overhead décor, or elaborate dessert displays? Don’t be swayed into the “Pinterest perfect” wedding and blow your budget on bobbles. What can you simplify, DIY, or do without? Check sites such as Marketplace or Craigslist to find deals on gently used items for your perfect wedding tablescape. Carefully weigh the cost— every detail adds to the bottom line.
  • Elope. Yes, this is an option! Many couples are opting for a private or destination ceremony with a few family and friends in attendance. Then they celebrate their marriage on a later date with a party introducing each other to their respective family and friends! This can be anything from a formal reception to an open house or a big bash at a local park preserve. You still should send wedding announcements to all your family and friends while still being able to limit who you invite to your celebration. Here are some wording ideas for your post-elopement party!

Your marriage marks the beginning of a life-long adventure together!

Your wedding is simply the event that starts the wonderful process. We hope these simple wedding budget saving ideas will help you feel confident that your wedding is perfect in every way as you begin your happily ever after financially healthy!

7 Ways To Cut Your Wedding Guest List To Save Money