How To Downsize Your Wedding Guest List

Planning a wedding during these COVID times means you really have 4 options.

  1. Postpone your wedding or plan it for farther out when things are safe.
  2. Cancel your wedding.
  3. Get married now and plan on having your original wedding later.
  4. Adjust your wedding to have it now.

There is no right or wrong answer.

It really just depends on your situation.

But if you’ve decided that option #4 is the best for you, downsizing your wedding is going to be part of the adjustments you make.

And the first part of downsizing your wedding is downsizing your guest list.

And let’s be honest… this can be hard.

Especially since you’ve already worked so hard to create your guest list in the beginning.

But, don’t worry we’ve got you! Here are 5 tips to help you downsize your wedding guest list.


TIP #1 – Start Fresh

To start downsizing your wedding guest list, your first inclination is going to be to look at your current list and start cutting people.

And while you certainly can go this route, I’d suggest you start fresh instead.

Because this is essentially a new wedding.

And while perhaps not an entirely new wedding, it’s going to both look and feel different (like all things with COVID).

You’re going to have to think about this wedding a bit differently. So, you’ll also need to think about your guest list a bit differently.

And so it can be easier to start by creating your guest list from scratch.

This also allows you to make any small adjustments since your first guest list which might have been made quite a while ago.

TIP #2 – Don’t Forget The Important Number

Like starting to create any wedding guest list, you want to start with your must haves.

These are the people you have to have at your wedding.

The people who know you intimately and have been a major part of your lives.

But as you start to create your must have list, don’t forget that during these COVID times it’s important to remember that there is a specific number you’ll need to stay below.

Every area’s restrictions will be different, but I highly suggest not going over 50 people no matter where you are.

And the smaller you can keep your group, the safer it will be for everyone.

So, as you’re making your list, keep that important number in mind. Because it will dictate who is invited in the end.

TIP #3 – Ignore Groups

Happy guests dancing at a St. Croix destination wedding in the Caribbean by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy the online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: McAllister Photography)

As you’re creating your guest list, typically you’d be adding groups of people whether that’s family or friends. But, since you’re aiming for just the must haves (and keeping below your important number), you don’t want to make your list by groups.

Instead think purely about individual people.

Think about the individual people you have a close relationship with.

For example, you’re likely not close to all your Aunts and Uncles. Or all your cousins. Or you might have a group of friends that you hang out with, but there are only two that you’re really close to.

While narrowing down your guest list without groups can make you feel guilty about inviting some and not all, don’t.

These are strange times and you’re planning your wedding very differently now.

Which means the typical way you’d make a guest list, just doesn’t apply.

This is about having the people you have to have at your wedding and keeping people safe. That combo means that it’s impossible to invite everyone.

So, you have to focus on the people that you’re closest to and absolutely have to have at your wedding.

TIP #4 – Keep It Local

Bride and groom enjoying a moment at their backyard wedding by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy the online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: Bustle and Twine)

While traveling for a wedding usually isn’t that big of a deal, during these COVID times, it’s a huge deal. Which means your wedding will be local.

And that means your guest list is going to be local as well.

So, as you’re making your guest list of must haves, keep location in mind as well.

Because if your parents or your grandparents or your best friend lives across the country, they won’t be attending in person.

No matter how high on the must have list they are.

So your guest list may shift a bit depending on who can actually attend in person. That may end up making your list smaller or more predominantly family or friends.

TIP #5 – Make A Virtual Wedding Guest List

White chair with grey cushion and a purple ribbon to reserve it for vip at a wedding ceremony in wine country by San Francisco Bay Area wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy the online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: Kate Webber)

To help with all the people who can’t attend either because of location or because of your important safe number, consider having a virtual component to your wedding.

This is a chance to celebrate with everyone and assuage any guilt you may feel.

It will also give those guests you’re inviting to the in person wedding another option to join in the festivities if they don’t feel comfortable attending in person.

So for this virtual component, make a virtual wedding guest list.

This is a separate list and would include all the people who didn’t make it in your in person list.

To create this list, it may be easier for you to use your old guest list to start as you’ll want to make sure to keep everyone you previously invited (if an STD or invite was sent out).

But, it can also include any additional people that are new friends that you now want to be a part of your celebration.

Downsizing your guest list isn’t the easiest feat. But, with any wedding during COVID, you will need to make sure you’re keeping people safe.

Use these 5 tips to help you downsize your wedding guest list, and you’ll be on your way to planning your COVID wedding in no time.

Got questions as you downsize your wedding and your guest list? Become a Passport to Joy member and get access to a personal wedding advisor to help you through it all.

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