How Do I Downsize My Guest List?
If you have been forced to postpone your wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic then there is a good chance that you are facing some really tough decisions right now. The one we have been hearing the most about is what is the best way to reduce the guest list to accommodate a new venue, new budget, or for even for safety reasons. We know that you likely spent a great deal of time and effort creating your original guest list so we can certainly understand why downsizing it may seem so daunting. Especially when you are going from 250 to just 50. However, we can assure you, it’s absolutely possible—and if you handle the situation tactfully, you won’t hurt any feelings in the process.
First, determine how many guests need to be cut from the list.
The primary goal, is, of course to maintain as much of your previously-scheduled wedding as possible. The same venue, vendors, guest list, etc. However, you may find yourselves having to switch venues or cut your budget due to recent financial constraints. Both of these usually result in a downsizing of the guest list. First, figure out exactly how many people you can accommodate. Having a firm number is essential. That way there is no guesswork involved.
Make sure your VIPs are included, then see how many spots are left.
Start backwards. Rather than stressing over who you can cut from the guest list, start with those who must be included. Parents, grandparents, siblings...immediate family members. Then move on to your wedding party (plus spouses and significant others). From there, determine how many spots are remaining. From there, if you are able to accommodate your closest relatives and friends, add them. Build on this initial list, adding loved ones until you’ve hit the max number of guests you can accommodate.
Don’t count on guests RSVPing “no”.
Many couples will invite more guests than they’re able to accommodate, anticipating that many of them will RSVP "no." If you have a strict guest limit, we do not recommend doing this. Given the circumstances of your postponement, your loved ones will likely make every effort to attend, so you might end up with more yeses than you originally anticipated.
Communicate politely and with honesty.
Once you have decided who will make the final cut, you will need to share the news with your previously-invited guests. We recommend reaching out to these guests directly. Give them the courtesy of a phone call. We understand that these are potentially-difficult conversations, especially if you are calling all of your guests. We know it can feel overwhelming, but in cases like this lean on your partner, and also ask your parents or future in-laws to help. Be honest and polite. Let them know that you were so excited to celebrate with them, but due to unforeseen circumstances, you've have had to change your wedding plans pretty significantly. Unfortunately, now that you can only host a few guests, and having had to the guest list, you can only include your immediate families and wedding party. You can be as specific as you want to about the reasons behind the downsize, but keep the conversation as brief as possible. Your guests will be pretty understanding, given the difficulty of the situation. It is highly unlikely that you will receive pushback.
Don’t focus on the gifts.
If you’ve had to significantly cut your wedding guest list, you might be wondering what to do about wedding gifts that you have already received. Do we keep them? Do we return them? In most cases, keep them. Your guests will want to celebrate you in any way possible, and will be happy for you to keep their gifts. Just don't forger to send a prompt and appreciative thank you note!! And if a friend or family member is no longer on the guest list, don't expect to receive a gift. However, they may choose to send one to show support, but certainly aren't required to do so under any rules of etiquette.
Find ways to include your initial guest list.
Think of creative ways to include your original guest list in your new event. For example, you can live stream your ceremony, or send each of your guests a handwritten thank-you note for their support. Even ask invited guests to share photos and videos on social media using your wedding hashtag so that loved ones can follow along with the event as it happens.