6 Simple Solutions For Handling Tricky Wedding Guest List Dramas


Dealing with guest list dramas? Trust us – you’re not alone! Along with managing your budget and chasing late RSVPs, creating your guest list is easily one of the trickiest parts about planning a wedding.

So how do you create your ideal guest list without offending any of your loved ones? From overbearing parents to unwanted plus ones, read on for 6 solutions to the most common guest list dilemmas below. 

Photo via Beba Vowels

Guest List Drama: We’re Struggling To Cut Our Numbers

Guest list spiraling out of control? Whether it’s due to a tight budget or limited venue capacity, sticking to a strict headcount can be harder than you think.

The solution: If you desperately need to reduce your numbers, you may need to implement some blanket rules to help you trim your list.

For example:

  • No plus ones, except for those in long-term relationships
  • No friends you haven’t spoken to within the last 2 years
  • No work colleagues
  • No extended family members you haven’t met
  • No friends or family out of “obligation”

If you’re still struggling to get your numbers down, you can also consider dividing your guests into “A” and “B” lists. Your A-list guests are your priority guests who will receive your first round of invitations. Based on their responses, you can then send a second round of invitations to your B-list if spaces open up. You can find our ultimate guide to creating your guest list here!

Photo via Leo Patrone

Guest List Drama: Our Friends/Family Feel Excluded

So you’ve confirmed your guest list and sent out those invites – but now, your distant cousins are offended that they haven’t made the cut! How do you deal with friends and family who may feel excluded from the big event?

The solution: While you certainly don’t want to hurt any feelings, you also shouldn’t feel guilty about your decision. We’d suggest coming up with a gentle response that explains your situation, while keeping your relationship intact. Shifting the blame to your budget or venue capacity is usually the best option!

You could say something like: “We SO wish we could invite everyone, but due to our limited budget we’ve decided to keep our celebration small. We hope you understand it’s nothing personal – we simply weren’t able to invite as many people as we would have liked.”

Photo via Plume Calligraphy

Guest List Drama: My Parents Are Trying to Dictate The Guest List

Cutting down your guest list is hard enough even without parental input! So where do you draw the line when it comes to excessive guest list requests?

The solution: This is a tough one because it really depends on whether your parents are contributing financially to the wedding. 

If your parents are helping you cover costs, we’d say it’s only fair for them to have some input. Traditionally, the guest list was split three ways: ⅓ to the couple, and ⅓ to both sets of parents. These days, it’s more common for the couple to invite ½ of the guests, with ¼ each to both sets of parents.

If your parents aren’t contributing financially to the wedding, then the guest list is 100% up to you. With this in mind, we’d say it’s a nice idea to consider their requests and reach a happy compromise if you can – this is a special day for them, too! 

Photo via Opalo Photos

Guest List Drama: Navigating Plus Ones

Scrapping plus ones is an easy way to reduce your numbers – but how do you do this without offending any of your guests?

Solution: First, you’ll want to figure out who actually needs a plus one, and who doesn’t.

Correct etiquette states that any guest in long-term relationships should receive a plus one for their partner. But when it comes to single guests, there’s no expectation that a plus one will be offered. 

To avoid any potential awkwardness, you may want to include a specific phrase like “We have reserved 1 seat in your honour” on your wedding invitations. You can also leave a note on your wedding website saying something like “We would love to share our special day with as many people as possible, but due to venue restrictions, we are unable to accommodate plus ones. Thank you for your understanding!”

Guest List Drama: We Don’t Want Kids At Our Wedding

It’s completely acceptable to host an adults-only celebration, but how do you let parents know their little ones aren’t welcome?

The solution: If you’re planning a child-free wedding, give your guests as much notice as possible so they can make alternate arrangements. You can do this by including a simple note on your wedding invitations or wedding website. For example: “Although we love your little ones, please note our wedding reception will be an adult-only affair”.

Keep in mind that while most guests will be happy to have a night off, some parents may be uncomfortable or unable to attend without their kids. Don’t take it personally if they decline your invitation, but consider making an exception for newborn babies or traveling guests if you’d really love them to attend.

Photo via Jack Henry Photo

Guest List Drama: Help, Our Guests Don’t Get Along!

From divorced parents to friendship breakdowns, dealing with tension between guests can put you in a tricky position.

The solution: Take a deep breath and remember: this is your wedding, and it’s not your responsibility to manage your guests. This doesn’t mean you have to choose a side or cut anyone off your guest list, but we’d suggest seating them away from each other at your reception to keep the peace.

Pre-wedding events (like engagement parties, bridal showers, and rehearsal dinners) can also be a good opportunity to bring family together and resolve any conflicts before the big event. And as a last resort? Give your wedding planner or venue coordinator a heads-up – they’ll be able to quickly diffuse any tense situations on the day.

Got your guest list sorted? Check out our guide to seating chart etiquette here!