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Wedding Guests: Our 13 Top Tips for Cutting Down the Guest List

Need help making the list of your VIP's? Here, some expert advice for deciding who should make the final wedding guest list cut.

Photo: Kallima Photography

Money Talks

If you're running into conflicts curbing your guest list, consider who's footing the bill. Because the bride's parents traditionally pay for the wedding, they usually have more say over the list. If the groom's side is paying, flip that. Or, if you're throwing your own bash, allocate a specific number to each side.

Slash and Burn

If you like, start by making as big a list as you can -- the fantasy list. Then get ready to wield the pen as a hatchet and whack that list into shape, cutting ruthlessly until you are within budget. Reducing the guest list is the only way to truly cut costs.

Pick Your Priorities

If you have your heart set on a small country inn but plan to invite 200 people, it's not gonna happen. Figure out which is more important to you: more guests or a specific venue.

Battle the Guilt

A wedding is not an excuse to round up every long-lost friend you have known since you were 10 -- focus on people who matter now. Don't feel guilty when you run into someone you haven't seen in years and aren't planning on inviting to the wedding. Otherwise, you'd be inviting everyone you've every met.

Child's Play

If you're having a large number of guests 10 and under, hire a babysitter to watch kids them during the ceremony (have him or her sit with small kids in a separate room, if necessary). Or, set up a children's table or room at the reception, complete with favors, crayons, coloring books, small toys, and games. Consider hiring special children's entertainment, such as a caricaturist or clown.

Happy Meals

Ask your caterer to prepare kid meals so they don't have to eat -- and you don't have to pay for -- grown-up meals.

Choose Your Words

If you don’t want to invite kids, make sure the outer and inner envelopes of your invitations are addressed in such a way that it's clear children aren't included (Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Anderson as opposed to The Anderson Family). If anyone RSVPs with their kids anyway, it's okay to call and gently explain your preference.

Take a Seat

When it comes to seating guests at the ceremony, the general rule of thumb is one usher for every 50 guests.

Talkative Tables

Want to ensure you've created perfect, party-friendly tables for your guests? Here are some things to consider: Put people with similar interests and of similar ages together; put an even number of guests at each table (people tend to pair off in conversation so you don't want to leave anyone out); and put the dance lovers near the dance floor -- they'll get the party rocking.

Stick to a Schedule

One of the simplest, most useful things you can do for out of town guests is provide a wedding itinerary. After sending out your invitations, mail guests an additional clever, elegant, or interesting communique with a complete rundown of the events leading up to and following your walk down the aisle. You can also create a wedding web page for an easily refrenced one-stop-shop for guests to check up on everything you have planned.

Set Them Up

Recommend different places for guests to stay. Look for locations near your ceremony and reception sites, and start calling around about six months beforehand to check on large-scale availability for the days surrounding your wedding, and to inquire about special group rates.

Show Your Appreciation

Comfort the jet-lagged and travel-weary with a little something left in their hotel rooms. Imagine their delight -- walking into their temporary living quarters to discover a basket of fresh fruit, a bouquet of flowers, a tin of local chocolates, or a bottle of chilled bubbly.

Abide By a Buddy System

Out-of-town guests who are traveling alone? Create a buddy system. Appoint a kind, willing family member to welcome the guest to town and offer his phone number for questions. Your buddy probably won't get woken up at 4 a.m., but the knowledge that he's there should help nervous travelers.

-- The Knot

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