Planning a Smaller Wedding Thanks to Coronavirus? Here’s How to Cut Your Wedding Guest List

No one wants to have to cut their wedding list. But in a time of Coronavirus, many couples have unfortunately had to reimagine their full-scale celebration as a more intimate affair. Perhaps this has been to accommodate a new venue, a smaller budget, or to adhere to safety restrictions. Whatever the reason, it can feel like an impossible task. After all, how do you UN-invite people you really want to be there? It’s important to know that it is possible to cut your wedding guest list in an effective – and tactful – way. All you need is to have a strategy in place. Here’s how.

Step 1: Decide on your new guest list limit

Before you do anything else, settle on the number of guests you will be able to accommodate. Talk to your venue contact to clarify their restrictions (as well as any state and county restrictions) so you have a firm number to work with. Also, remember that you may need to include vendors in the total number of attendees, such as your officiant, photographer, wedding planner, etc.

Step 2: Identify the VIPs

No matter what size the wedding is, everyone has a non-negotiable must-invite list. Start with your immediate families and wedding party, as well as their significant others. Then add your closest friends and family – the people you can’t imagine getting married without.

Step 3: Make the cuts

Once you’ve built this initial list, work out how many spots are left over. You can then fill these places with a widening circle of people from your original guest list. It may be easiest to sort people into groups like colleagues and college friends and add or remove them all together. Some of the people that may be easier to cut include friends or family members you haven’t seen or communicated with in years, work friends and plus-ones you don’t know. If your parents or in-laws have added names to the original guest list, they may be willing to cut some of these as well.

Step 4: Check-in with your guests

Before you make any further moves, it’s a good idea to check in with the guests still on your list. You can do this personally, or via online. Ask them who would be able to attend on your original (or revised) date. Some of them may not be willing to travel or attend a group gathering, however small. (This may be especially true for older relatives.) If so, you’ll be able to include others in their place. Best of all, they will have taken the decision off your shoulders!

Step 5: Communicate openly and honestly

Once you’ve settled on the revised guest list, it’s time to inform your previously-invited guests (if you have any). The best way to do this is personally. Reach out with a phone call or video chat as soon as possible. Explain the situation honestly, and let them know how disappointed you are that they won’t be able to make it. If you’ll be live-streaming the event, you should also let them know this.

A word about hurt feelings, because I know you might be worried about upsetting the people you love. Just remember that these aren’t ordinary circumstances. Of course your guests will be disappointed, but given the reasons for your decision, you will probably find that people will be more understanding than you fear. And they may even be secretly relieved to skip a social gathering during 2020. Remember: we’re all in this together!


Image by Norman & Blake