9 Tips For Putting Together Your Small Wedding Guest List

Because a guest list isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Newlyweds dance at their intimate wedding reception at The Space on West Main

The Space on West Main | SJR and Co Photography


Whether you call it a micro wedding, small wedding, tiny wedding, or mini wedding, one thing's clear: You need to narrow down your guest list! But between hard conversations and potentially hurt feelings, trimming your invites can prove to be tricky. So how do you set yourself up for small-wedding success? Check out these 9 tips for putting together an intimate wedding guest list, and look forward to a guilt-free celebration filled with your favorite familiar faces.




1. Communicate your Small Wedding Wishes

Let parents or any contributing parties know about your plans to have an intimate event. They'll no doubt have their own list of people they'd like to attend in mind, so set expectations early on that the guest list will be minimal. Respectfully ask that they limit their list, and consider giving them a specific number of invitees. Sharing your plan of action for how you're narrowing down your own list may be a helpful example for them, too.


2. Book a Venue with Limited Capacity

When your wedding venue has a max capacity, it naturally limits the number of guests you can invite. So do yourself a favor and check out venues with small wedding spaces. Many venues may say they accommodate small weddings, but if your guest list is 50 or fewer, you may find that the small group feels like they're rattling around in a too-big event space. You definitely want a venue with a cozier feel! Check out our nationwide list of Small Wedding Venues, which covers anything from an elopement with just the two of you to a wedding with as many as 50 guests. The venues listed have cozy, intimate spaces which work well for small weddings. Because bigger isn't always better, ya know?

Micro wedding reception table with pink flowers and linens underneath a black-and-white striped canopy at Ivy Terrace

Ivy Terrace


3. Consider a Destination

It's generally expected that a destination wedding will involve a smaller, more exclusive group of guests. So plan a destination wedding stateside or abroad and revel in the fact that it's perfectly acceptable to only invite your nearest and dearest. (More on that below.)


4. Invite VIPs Only

And by VIPs we mean your absolute nearest and dearest. Because nobody has 200 besties. This may include immediate family members, close friends, and important mentors, as well as their plus-ones and/or children. When planning an intimate wedding, don't feel pressured to invite acquaintances, neighbors, distant relatives, people you barely know, etc. etc. And remember, just because someone invited you to their wedding doesn't always mean you must invite them to yours!

Couple stands beneath a wooden wedding arch at their intimate outdoor wedding ceremony with six chairs

Westbrook Inn Bed & Breakfast


5. Limit the Plus-Ones

One way to manage your guest list is by only extending a plus-one to wedding guests that are married, engaged, in your wedding party, or in a serious long-term relationship. Beyond that, you don't need to offer a plus-one to every single guest! The only exception to this is a destination wedding: Err on the side of generosity here so your guests don't have to fly solo (literally!).


6. Make it an Adults-Only Affair

Deciding whether or not to invite children to your wedding is a deeply personal decision that depends on a lot of factors—which is why we wrote an entire article about it! If opting for a no-kids event, refer to it as an "adults-only celebration" and write just the names of the grown-ups on the wedding invitation envelope and insert. You can also note that "X number of seats have been reserved in your honor" to make it crystal clear.

A newlywed couple and happy wedding party walks outside at The Lighthouse at Glen Cove Marina

The Lighthouse at Glen Cove Marina


7. Go All or Nothing

Along the lines of "limit plus ones" and "no kids", consider other groupings of guests you can exclude from your list entirely. This may include NOT inviting any coworkers, leaving off ALL cousins, or opting to ONLY invite your rowdy roller derby team to the after party and not the wedding itself. No exceptions!


8. Livestream your Ceremony

If it’s any consolation to uninvited guests, consider livestreaming your wedding so they can at least attend your ceremony virtually. Choose an easy-to-use livestream app and feel free to send a digital invite with all the information virtual attendees may need to know (e.g. "You'll be muted automatically" or "Please sign our virtual guest book!").

Outdoor reception tables with blue floral linens set up for an intimate event at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort

The Scottsdale Plaza Resort


9. Stick to your Guest List Guns

A great way to mitigate hurt feelings is to commit to your guest list decisions and stick to them! You should feel empowered to only invite the people closest to you that will add to your small wedding in a major way. When you confidently put clear boundaries in place, you'll not only feel better about your decision making, but you can also confidently explain your rationale to others.


Need more guest list guidance? Check out our 7 Tips for Tackling Your Wedding Guest List.

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Some clients may have paid to be placed in our editorial and some of these links may be affiliate; however, we never include a venue, vendor, or product unless they have a proper place here. This is part of our Core Values. We create our website first and foremost to be good for the couples using it to plan their Big Day. We won't stray from that for a few advertising dollars. #scoutshonor