The size of your guest list will greatly affect your wedding expenses and your reception site options. A rare bride and groom need not edit their original list, whether you’re dealing with 30 or 300 people.

Most likely, you, your fiance and both families will be contributing names to the list, and each party will have their own ideas about who is necessary and who is not. To help, try this list-cutting strategy:

1. Start by setting a goal for your list size. Base this on your budget or on space limitations.

2. Have everyone involved submit a list of the people they’d like to attend. From the top, they should rank the names in order of importance.

3. Cross off any duplications.

4. Add up the names and compare that number with your goal.

5. If your count is over the limit, determine how many can be eliminated.

6. Then, have a number of names cut from each list starting at the bottom.

Bride’s Side or Groom’s Side?
A simple approach is to let each set of parents invite the same number of people, or a number in proportion to the amount they’re contributing. Of course, real life is rarely so tidy, and list will contain by many factors ? perhaps your future in-laws come from huge families, or the wedding will be in your hometown so your parents want to invite everyone. If you’re lucky these imbalances won’t cause problems, but be prepared to get firm with your families.

“And Guest?”
It can be tempting to limit your list by not inviting your single friends with guests ? and that’s just fine, if they truly are single. But if they’re married, engaged, living with someone, or in a long-term relationship, you must invite their significant. Not only that, but you should include the significant other’s name on the invitation ? don’t just write ‘and Guest’ if there’s a specific person in your friend’s life.

No Kidding
Including children in your guest list is an entirely personal choice. Some couples couldn’t imagine getting married without their adored nieces and nephews in attendance; others don’t want children anywhere near their elegant affair. Children’s meals are often less expensive than adults’, but kids do take up as much space ? or more, if you set aside a play area for them.
Not inviting children can be an efficient way to eliminate an entire block of guests, and though some parents may be offended, they shouldn’t expect you to invite their kids. (Just be sure to apply the decision uniformly, and don’t make exceptions.)

The Co-worker Question
You probably spend more waking hours with your office-mates than with your future mate, but does that mean you need to invite them all? Don’t worry ? unless you’re close enough friends that you already socialize outside of the office, they probably don’t expect. If you do decide to invite co-workers, remember that you’ll need to invite their spouses or significant others too, as described above. And if you don’t invite them, stop bending their ears about wedding plans all day!

A-List, B-List
One way to make sure you invite as many people as possible but don’t exceed your desired number is to have a back-up list of people you invite only after you receive regrets from your primary list. This means you need to send your A-list invitations out eight to 10 weeks in advance. Have the B-list mailing ready so as soon as you start receiving negative A-list replies you can drop them in the mail.
The only real downside to this approach is the risk of hurt feelings if a guest realizes he or she wasn’t a first choice. To avoid this, make sure nothing on the invitation or envelope indicates A or B, and don’t send out any invitations too close to the wedding date.

Managing Your Guest List
Can’t decide whether to invite someone? Think about whether they’ll still be part of your life in five years. If not, save that seat for someone who will.
Don’t assume you’ll get a lot of regrets and over-invite ? you just may be surprised by how many people accept.

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