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How To Downsize Your Wedding Guest List

How To Downsize Your Wedding Guest List

Cat Arnott Updated:
8th of March 2023

Couples planning a wedding during the coronavirus pandemic are facing many struggles. Those getting married in 2020 or 2021 are faced with a wide array of guidelines and regulations. For example, weddings in England can currently go ahead, however, both the ceremony and reception are limited to 15 people. So, many couples face the difficult task of downsizing their wedding guest list in order to meet these restrictions. 

Downsizing your wedding can be a difficult task as you identify which of your loved ones unfortunately can't be included. However, it is currently a necessity and those guests will understand that it was your only option. Remember to try and focus on the positives. Firstly, you save money or use your budget to provide everyone with an upgraded experience. With a limited guest list, you can also spend more time with the guests who are there. Also, a smaller guest list will probably make your guests feel more comfortable about attending during this time. Don’t forget, this smaller wedding does not have to be the end of your wedding celebrations! You can always throw a bigger reception and party at a later date when restrictions are lifted, known as a sequel wedding

However, limiting your wedding guest list is much easier said than done. Not inviting someone to your wedding could create hurt feelings, especially if the original invitations have already been given out. Here we have some tips on how to downsize your wedding guest list without upsetting anyone, being both sensible and sensitive.

Wedding Guest


Start with the people you cannot imagine your wedding day without. These are the people that you absolutely want to have at your wedding, no matter how small of a guest list you’re working with. For example, close family and friends, such as your parents, siblings, and your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Reach out to these individuals first to confirm that they’re available on the date you intend to get married. Then, once you have those numbers, you can figure out how many additional guests you can still invite.

A-List and B-List

Once you have your VIPs, add them to the A-List. Your A-list consists of the must-have individuals you can't imagine not being at your wedding. They'll receive your first round of invitations. Make a list of everyone that you can possibly invite and then segment the list into categories A and B. Anyone who is lower-priority should be added to the B-list. If you have more people from the A-list who can’t make it then start sending invites to your B-list in order of importance.

If you are struggling to decide who should be on your A or B-list, or who should get priority on the B-list, these next tips should help you be decisive with your downsizing. 

Wedding Guest

Recent Contacts

Anyone who you haven’t had recent contact with can be classed as low-priority. This may not be easy, but it’s one of the most cut-and-dry tactics for limiting your wedding guest list. Only inviting those guests that you have had very recent and regular communication with.

Adults Only

Deciding not to have children at your wedding is a good way to limit numbers; unless you have children of your own of course! Even if you have cousins, nieces or nephews that you are close to, it might not be safe to have them at your wedding at this time. Not all children can be counted on for following social distancing measures! 

Exclude Coworkers

Unless you have a coworker who is also a close friend outside of work, cutting coworkers entirely is an easy way to limit your list. Besides, you might not have seen your coworkers for some time, if you’re working from home! 

Limit Plus-Ones

For a coronavirus-restricted wedding, plus ones are a courtesy you can’t afford. Of course, you will probably know couples where you are close friends with both of them, that’s fine! But if you don’t know your best friend’s new partner too well, they will understand if you ask for their plus one space goes to your sister instead, for example! Just be clear on the invitations that plus ones are not possible and explain why. During this time, most guests will completely understand your need to cut down on your guest list and, if you’re someone they truly care about deeply, will still be in attendance without their significant other.

Wedding Guest

Virtual Guests

Once you have established who will be there in person, extend a virtual invitation to those on your old, expanded guest list. During this pandemic, we have all learned how technology can keep us connected, even when we have to be apart. So, you can incorporate all those guests who you had to cut as well as any VIPs who couldn’t be there due to health or travel reasons. At Guides for Brides, we offer a Live Stream feature, using Zoom technology but broadcasting through Facebook or YouTube, for £35 including VAT. See below for more information and contact if you are interested. 

There are a number of ways you can include guests who are unable to attend, including bespoke food services! For example, DineDelivered is able to offer wedding breakfasts to guests who can’t attend your wedding in person. The team will create a delicious three-course celebration meal for your guests that arrives ‘oven-ready’, so that they can easily join in your celebrations. You can also add canapes, a bottle of champagne, children’s meals and meals for special diets to make sure they have a truly personalised and special occasion in their own home.

Downsizing your wedding guest list to coronavirus is an unfortunate, difficult process.  Actually telling the guests who are 'uninvited' might feel uncomfortable but you do have a very valid reason for doing so! Depending on your circumstances, you might want to contact guests individually or send out a mass message. Highlight the restrictions you are under as your friends and family should understand that you’re dealing with extenuating circumstances. Be open and honest with your guests and focus on creating a wedding experience that you can both be happy and comfortable with. 

To keep up to date with all wedding-related updates during COVID, make sure you are following our Facebook page. We regularly post Live videos explaining any updates and changes.

Cat Arnott

About the author

Cat Arnott

With a Masters degree in History, Cat is the best person to consult if you need wedding facts and information fast. Her passion for weddings has led to her having a broad and up to date knowledge of trends and traditions and she is here to research on your behalf to find the answer to any wedding related problem.

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