You can look for vendor discounts, DIY décor, or even ask a friend to cater the reception dinner, but there’s only one way to save hundreds or even thousands on your wedding planning. It’s not easy, and many couples resist it, but it’s the only sure-fire way to cut costs.

Cut the guest list.

Maybe you and your extended family are super close, or you absolutely feel like you must invite your childhood neighbors, and if you’re willing to sacrifice your vision or skimp on your dress or flowers to make that happen, feel free. After all, it’s your wedding, and how you prioritize things is entirely up to you!

But if you don’t want to sacrifice your wedding vision to accommodate acquaintances and distant relatives, then trimming the guest list is the easiest way to make more room in your budget for the things that matter most to you and your partner.

Not sure where to start? Here’s how you can cut down on the number of invitees 

Get organized

Sit down as a couple and organize your guest list into groups: immediate family, close friends, friends from college, and on down. Cutting entire groups is easier than cutting individuals and can help ease hurt feelings. As a general rule, try to invite only people you absolutely want to be at your wedding. Don’t give in to obligations instead of focusing on your own wishes for your day.

Cut out cousins

It’s true that weddings are a great opportunity for families to get together, but your wedding day doesn’t have to be a family reunion. If you’re especially close to your cousins, then by all means, invite them! But if you only see your cousins occasionally and don’t have a close relationship with any of them, just don’t invite them at all. Especially if you have a large extended family, taking cousins (and their families) off your guest list can save you a ton.

Leave out coworkers

This category can be especially tricky. After all, you spend every day with some of your coworkers, and you may have talked to them about your wedding planning a lot. But unless you have a small, close-knit group of close work friends, it’s best to leave coworkers off your guest list.

Don’t include your parents’ friends

If your parents are paying for your wedding, they have the right to invite who they want, but if you and your partner are footing the bill, sit down with your parents and talk to them about the guest list. Let them know that you had to cut some of your friends from the list, and you’ll have to do the same for their friends. After all, this is your day, not your mom’s.

Say no to old friends…

Weddings are all about bringing together the people that matter most to your life, and you may even have a childhood friend or two in your wedding party. But if you haven’t seen a friend from childhood, high school, or even college in years, then don’t feel obligated to invite them to your wedding.

And brand-new ones

Making new friends post-engagement and pre-wedding can be awkward. You may have acquaintances you’re growing closer to, but you don’t want to add yet another person to your guest list. Don’t feel like you have to include new friends. Chances are they’ll be understanding and won’t mind missing out on an invite.

Consider your plus-one policy

Whether or not to allow plus-ones can be tricky. Naturally, long-term couples, as well as engaged and married friends, can bring their significant others, but you may want to ask single friends to come alone or in a group. You don’t want strangers at your wedding, and letting everyone have a plus one can really inflate your guest list—and your costs.

Keep it intimate

A destination wedding or a small wedding for close friends and immediate family is a great excuse to keep your guest list down to the bare minimum. You can have everyone you really want present while you say “I do,” while not worrying about offending everyone else.

Throw a huge party

Want your wedding to stay intimate but still want a big bash (and the gifts that come with it)? You can have the best of both worlds by inviting only a few people to the actual ceremony and spending your budget on a party to celebrate your marriage. You’ll save money on all the trappings of a traditional, formal wedding ceremony, and can focus your planning on the fun part: dinner, drinks, and dancing!

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