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How to reduce your wedding guest list: Wairarapa weddings

guests dancing at a wairarapa wedding reception

You've started to write the guest list for your outdoor Wairarapa wedding and it's loooooong. You've considered immediate family, distant family, friends, work colleagues, family friends, partners and children. For both of you. Phew!

There are four main reasons why you might want to reduce the number of people you invite to your wedding:

  1. You value genuine connections and want to share your wedding with only close family and friends

  2. You want an intimate celebration instead of a big wedding with all the associated materialism, hoopla and waste

  3. Your Wairarapa wedding venue, marquee or location has a maximum capacity

  4. You have a budget that can accommodate a finite number of guests (that's less than your initial list!).

But how do you start reducing your guest list? Here are some practical tips and questions to ask, that might help you.

Tip #1: Meaningful relationships

bride with arms around a wedding guest, Wairarapa wedding photographer

When considering people on your initial draft wedding guest list, ask yourselves these questions to decide whether the relationship you have with that person is meaningful "enough" to invite them to your wedding. How long have you known them? How frequent is your contact (either in person, on the phone, email, message, Facetime etc)? Do they bring joy to your life? But it's not as simple as that.

You may have a friend who you've known since primary school. You went to uni together and now you live down the street from each other. You get on like a house on fire and can't imagine being married without them there. Perfect they're on your guest list! Your partner has a colleague they started working with 12 months ago. They just click and have been inseparable ever since. Easy they're on the list too! You have a cousin who you were very close to during high school but haven't seen them much since they moved to Canada. But you always see them every-other-year when they're home visiting relatives. Fantastic they'll receive an invite! Sadly your partner's sister has a nasty streak, and the family don't speak to her anymore. She doesn't bring joy to anyone's lives and won't be receiving an invite to your wedding.

So it's about figuring out who you both have meaningful relationships with, regardless of how long you've known them for.

Ben and I certainly invited an eclectic mix of friends to our wedding! Some we'd known since we were 5 and some we'd only met in the last few years. All were special people, many of which traveled from all over the country and overseas to join us on our wedding day. We were incredibly humbled and grateful.

Tip #2: Partners or "plus one's"

male wedding guest smiling behind a suspended picture frame with flower, Wairarapa weddings

In close relation to tip 1, do you invite partners or "plus one's" to your wedding? When considering couples: does one of you know the partner? Have both of you met the partner? Is their relationship committed for the long term?

Perhaps you all did your nursing training together where your friends starting dating: of course you'll invite them both. Your spouse-to-be has a close mate who's just started going out with someone they met online. You've not met them yet. Maybe the mate comes alone.

If you're inviting a single person, do they know anyone else at your wedding? Will they be lonely if they don't know anyone else? Perhaps you can invite them to bring along a friend or family member. Otherwise you could consider organising a pre-wedding picnic, wine tasting or group hike to allow guests to get to know each other before the actual wedding.

Tip #3: Children

bride and groom with their children wedding portraits, Wairarapa

Children are wonderful, they're our future and precious gems to be hugged and treasured. Their numbers can also increase a wedding guest list significantly. When trying to reduce your list it's worth considering children.

Do you love children, enjoy being surrounded by them and are super comfortable around kids? Do you have children yourselves or are particularly close to nieces and nephews? Do your friend's children call you "Aunty" and "Uncle"? Then it sounds like the decision to invite children is in the affirmative.

If you aren't particularly fond of children, don't like the idea of having babies cry during your wedding ceremony and toddlers running up and down the aisle; then not inviting kids may the way to go for you. Additionally, your chosen wedding venue or location may not be safe for children. There may be a river, dam or pond; it could be on a cliff top or a working vineyard with machinery nearby.

You may like to consider a compromise of inviting children over 10 years old (or insert appropriate age here). Or only children of immediate family members. These measures can help you feel more inclusive whilst still limiting the number of guests.

If you decide not to invite kids just ensure you make it clear on your invitation by including names of people who are invited; and a sentence that explains that children aren't invited and perhaps the reason. Some guests may not be able to attend because they have small babies or toddlers.

My husband and I chose to only have children of immediate family members at our wedding in a field at a cider cellar door. If we invited everyone's children, our guest list would have increased by 35%! Not inviting kids was the right thing to do for us.

Tip #4: Don't be pressured by other people

grandfather showing his grandson a photo on the day of his grandaughter's wedding, Wairarapa

Sometimes parents, other family members or friends insist you invite certain people to your wedding. They could be chums of theirs; third cousins who you haven't spoken to in 10 years; or someone's wedding you attended as a 4 year old. They could be other people in the same friendship circle. They could be colleagues or your boss.

Invoke tip #1: do you have a meaningful relationship with them?

We were (and still are!) lucky to have very supportive families who didn't insist on anything specific when we were planning our wedding guest list. In fact we had some family friends we have fond childhood memories of on our initial list, and were told there was no need!

Tip #5: Do the right thing

Wairarapa wedding favours

Above all else, it's really important to just do the right thing. Trust your gut, talk about your guest list together and do what feels right. These are humans after all, with feelings. People who have played a huge part in your lives so far, and love you dearly.

If, by not inviting someone you risk starting a family fued, then possibly just invite them. If your partner really wants to have their third cousin there, then go ahead.

Remember it's a day to celebrate your love for each other. You can decide who you share that with.

If you've found value in these tips when planning your Wairarapa wedding, please feel free to follow me on Facebook to be the first to know when new blog posts are released.

Lots of love, Sarah xx


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