Depending on your family and cultural traditions reducing your guest list may not be easy, or even possible. But, for everyone else, adopting even a few of these tips can save you thousands.
From the very first days of your engagement, make sure to spread the word that your wedding is small. By letting people know right upfront that you aren't inviting a lot of people you'll reduce the number of uncomfortable conversations with people who assume that they'll be invited. These uncomfortable conversations have an unfortunate habit of turning into invitations you didn't want to issue.
In most weddings there are three main parties, her family, your family, and the two of you. Try and divide the guest list the same way. If everyone has the same number of invitations to pass out, it'll be easier to get people to cut their lists.
An easy way to reduce your guest list is to make some seemingly arbitrary cut-offs: No second cousins, no parents of friends, etc. If you set rules, make sure that they're applied fairly to both families. That doesn't mean you have to be a slave to the rule, but making too many exceptions can open up floodgates.
Common courtesy dictates that if a friend lives with, or is seriously involved with someone, he should also be invited to the wedding. But, your friend Suzy who has a different guy every month? Her newest does not need to be invited to the wedding. In general, if you have to address the invitation to "and guest" instead of to someone's name, feel free to leave the guest off. You might want to make exceptions for this rule. If you are inviting an ex of yours or your fiancé's to the wedding (ouch! that's an entirely different topics to discuss!!!), you might want to allow him or her to bring a date. If you are inviting a now-defunct couple, you might check in with them and see if they want to bring guests.
Unless your co-workers are truly your friends outside the office (i.e. you spend time on the weekends together) don't invite them. Don't invite ANY of them. If you invite one co-worker, you open up a slew of other possible invitations.
Remember the first Sex and the City movie? Carrie was all set to have a small courthouse wedding, then she bought that Vivienne Westwood dress and it all spun out of control. If you want a small wedding, make sure your planning stays small.
Don't forget, reducing your guest list isn't the only way to save money on your wedding. If you've always dreamed of a wedding with all your nearest and dearest, or you have a big family, there are plenty of other cost-cutting measures you can include.
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