Regardless of the size of your families, or your family dynamics, wedding guest lists are a major pain to manage. You're dealing with multiple people's relationships, personalities, and everything at your wedding grows in cost based on your final guest count. Here are six great suggestions to help you navigate managing your wedding guest list:

1. Set rules and stick with them.

This step requires many conversations between you and your partner. It may also involve a lot of negotiation with parents—especially if they happen to be contributing financially to the wedding. So, start with yourselves. You and your fiancé should each sit down, individually, and look at areas like inviting children, including co-workers at the wedding, and your individual list of friends who aren't in a relationship. Write down how you feel about these areas and once you have a clear picture for yourselves, discuss the lists together and come up with some solid rules.


Once you have a united front, you're ready to take on the family. Be prepared for some uncomfortable conversations, but having worked together on a few rules gives you a solid footing.

2. Sorry, no kids!

The decision not to include kids in your wedding may be the hardest, as some weddings are a big family event. But they can also be a huge expense! While you want to be firm with your decisions, know that you can make your own exceptions. You might want a sibling's or honor attendant's children to be in the wedding party as a ring bearer or flower girl, and it's okay to include them! Your wedding, your rules.

3. Keep work friends as work friends.

Agreeing not to invite co-workers is another area where you can narrow down your guest list. We know there are people who you might see socially, but it may be safer if you don't invite them. Not to mention how incredibly difficult it is to keep your list a secret from co-workers you didn't invite.

4. Be firm on plus ones.

Just to be clear, that plus one is the date du jour that your single friend is looking to bring to the wedding so they aren't alone. We talked to a wedding planner with a brilliant rule, "no ring, no bring." Basically, that means if your friend isn't engaged or in a super-serious relationship, they don't get to bring a date. As uncomfortable and uncaring as that might sound, six single guests means six people you've never met, and with the cost of their meal, that can add up. We're sure your single friends know other people at the wedding. Just be thoughtful with the seating arrangements so they're seated with people they know.

5. Only invite people who will be a part of your future.

The lines for this rule get blurrier all the time. Social media "friends" and the way we stay virtually connected to people can make decisions in real life a little more challenging. A good judge of this to look at a causal friend you might be thinking of inviting and determine if it were any other day of the year would you take them to dinner and spend $100+ on them. If not, they're often not someone who will be a part of your life in the future.

6. Be strict on your parent's guest list.

Sometimes, discussing your wedding guest list with parents is almost comical. "We were in their wedding," but they haven't seen each other in a decade, they haven't seen you since you were a baby, and obviously they've never met your fiancé. Inviting people out of obligation because your parents were invited to their kids' weddings is not a good reason to keep them on your guest list. While there may be some blood relatives you invite that you haven't see in years, beyond that, if you haven't met them or your parents haven't seen them since you were in high school, you might need to put your foot down.


Managing your wedding guest list involves a lot of adulting, and it's never easy. But, when you look at the expense of each additional guest, your wedding costs can be decreased drastically for each guest you don't invite.


Hero photo courtesy of Chard Photo