How to trim a guest list

The new reality is that most weddings will be downsized due to social distancing guidelines. The important thing to remember is that it’s not your fault, but you do have to figure out how to scale back your guest list.

The new reality is that most weddings will be downsized due to social distancing guidelines. The important thing to remember is that it’s not your fault, but you do have to figure out how to scale back your guest list.

“The event can still be just as enjoyable and fantastic if you need to trim the guest list,” said San Francisco-based wedding consultant Ivy Summer, founder of Voulez Events.

“Couples should keep in mind the reason they are getting married and the love they share,” said Vishal Joshi, founder and CEO of Joy, a wedding planning and technology company based in San Francisco. “With that at the forefront, their wedding will be one of the most special days of their lives no matter how many guests are present.”

Decide on a count, then prioritize
If a couple only feels comfortable inviting 10 or 20 people, then immediate family may fill the list. If the guest list is 50 people, the couple will need to prioritize relatives, close friends and the people most important to them, Joshi said.

“Our advice to couples is this: Think of who you absolutely can’t imagine your wedding without,” he said. “For most couples, this is their immediate family, other special family members such as grandparents and their very closest of friends. We recommend couples decide the guest count they and their families feel comfortable with, then go from there.”

As with all weddings, there may be guests who are unable to attend, but they may be able to participate virtually. Through live streaming, guests may be able to make toasts at the reception or take part in group dances or virtual photo booths with in-person guests, said Summer, author of “Poise Over Panic: How to Plan a Wedding in a Pandemic.”

“In the current environment filled with so many unknowns, we recommend couples have contingency plans in place and break their guest list into tiers so that if they need to trim their list, they are ready to do so,” Joshi said.

“The easiest people to cut are plus-ones,” Summer said. “People will understand that you would if you could, but under these unforeseeable circumstances, you’ll have to limit your list.”

Eliminate guests who might have been courtesy invites, Joshi said.

“When reducing guest count, it is easier to start from the ground up, decide who you want to invite and once you have reached your capacity, stop there,” he said. “This way you aren’t debating each person you are cutting from your list, but rather prioritizing the people you want to attend.”

‘Guests will understand’
Because traditional wedding etiquette has gone out the window amid COVID-19, be honest with your guests. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings if you need to reduce the guest count.

“Guests will understand that they are prioritizing safety and will likely even be relieved if they were on the fence about attending given health concerns,” Joshi said.

Communicate with guests early and often if wedding plans are changing, as guests will also have questions and will appreciate the updates, he said.

—Melissa Erickson | More Content Now