top of page

How do you downsize your guest list?

In my interview with BRIDES, I answered questions about how to trim your guest list in the era of COVID weddings.

Can you briefly discuss the current set of circumstances that brides and grooms are finding themselves in given COVID19? 

Given COVID-19, the current set of circumstances that brides and grooms are finding themselves in include the inability to 

+ Invite as many people as they want.

+ Guarantee the physical safety of all guests and vendors.

+ Coordinate their dream wedding as they originally envisioned it, including their original wedding date.

+ Embark on their honeymoon or other post-wedding travel plans.

What are some COVID restrictions and regulations involved in having a wedding right now (or in the foreseeable future)? *please be detailed*

Some examples of COVID restrictions and regulations involved in having a wedding right now include the CDC's recommendations that can be applied to events include:

A restriction on buffet options: The CDC advises against "using or sharing items such as menus, condiments, and any other food. Instead, use disposable or digital menus, single-serving condiments, and no-touch trash cans and doors."

A venue's maximum capacity is now reduced from its original stated max capacity: The CDC recommends reducing capacity; "restaurants may open dining rooms with limited seating capacity that allows for social distancing."

Caterers, in some regions of the U.S., are unable to offer a majority of the services requested by the couple: The CDC encourages commercial kitchens to "limit service to drive-through, delivery, or curb-side pick-up options only."

Many brides and grooms are opting for smaller guest lists—what are some reasons why this may be helpful (both and general and in related to COVID)? 

Of the reasons why a couple should opt for smaller guests lists, the most helpful reasons are:

+ Related to safety and logistics. Especially with respect to COVID-19, it's safer and logistically easier to enforce physical distancing among a smaller group.

+ To help reduce the cost per guest. Cost per guest has a big impact on the budget when it comes to food and drinks, chair and table rentals, invitations, and more.

+ About the guest experience. Keeping the guest list small during the pandemic can make guests feel much more comfortable about attending.

A micro wedding table with simple centerpieces and décor
A micro wedding table with simple centerpieces and décor

What are 4-6 things you would recommend a bride and groom do if they have to cut down their guest list from, say, 150 (that was already hard enough!) to 50? *Please explain each tip in at least 3-5 sentences and give specific pointers*

Keep in mind that some guests (and perhaps wedding party attendants) may choose to shelter-in-place on your wedding day. Here are some considerations to contemplate as you plan:

+ Get a solid guest count estimate for in-person events to ensure that your venue’s new maximum capacity can accommodate your guests who intend to show up in-person. It's wise to limit your in-person guest list to friends and family you can't imagine getting married without and confirm that those guests are still available on the date you intend to get married. Communicate directly on a video or phone call with the guests who are not invited to the in-person ceremony and explain that it's a result of the venue's capacity restrictions. 

+ Be aware of what virtual components are available for guests who can’t attend in-person but you would still like for them to join your wedding day festivities during the ceremony, reception, or both. You can ask your wedding planning consultant, your DJ and/or your videographer about these options. + If you're postponing your wedding date, consider what in-person event options are going to be available to you on that day, such as a one-year anniversary reception for you and your original guest list. Find out how your wedding planning consultant can help you coordinate both your virtual and one-year anniversary reception.

+ Consider disallowing children and immunocompromised guests at the wedding, but give guests who are parents (and their kids) an opportunity to attend virtually. Ask your wedding planning consultant about ways to incorporate your virtual guests into your cocktail hour to mingle with in-person guests, virtual photobooths with entertaining backdrops, the dancefloor when it's time for the Macarena, cha-cha slide, the cupid shuffle, or another fun group dance. Make sure that your key virtual guests know how to submit a request for a song to the DJ or can make a toast when it's time for speeches. These are small details that can create unforgettable moments on the wedding day.

+ If local guests who would like to attend in-person but still have concerns about physical distancing, you may consider designating a time for them to drive by to deliver their well wishes at the venue from a distance. This is a great option for parents with kids who make find a lot of fun in decorating a sign to wave from the car, serenade the couple with a meaningful song, or blast the speakers and dance together at a safe distance. It's important to coordinate this option diligently so that you don't have too many guests during drive-by hours. With this option, you're cutting your guest list in a way that still makes uninvited guests feel like an integral part of your wedding day.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I share my research, a few case studies of real couples, and interviews with engaged couples dating back to November 2019 through April 2020 inside of my new book, Poise Over Panic: How to Plan a Wedding in a Pandemic. It's written specifically for couples who want to plan their wedding between 2020 and 2025, and it's available in print, Kindle, and electronic versions starting at $9.97. 

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page