How to Keep An Intimate Guest List. . .

. . .Without Anyone Feeling Excluded

In the wake of COVID-19 and all the restrictions on gatherings, intimate guest list weddings are going to be the best option for folks who want to get married over the next year and a half or so. While we hope these restrictions lift sooner, we wanted to share a few tips on how to keep your guest list intimate without people feeling excluded.

Ceremony now, reception later.

An elegant solution is to have a very intimate wedding ceremony with just your very closest family in attendance, and then throw a rager of a reception later on. Besides having the chance to wear your wedding attire twice (or use it as an excuse to get something else fabulous), you can skip some of the plate spinning of wedding planning by not having to coordinate everything happening on one day. 

Another benefit to this is that your family is able to fully engage with you in this happy moment. Wedding days are a beautiful and wild whirlwind of a day, and we love them for that. But an intimate ceremony with just your families means that they aren’t pulled away by extended relatives or to make sure the floral arrangements get from the ceremony to the reception. They are able to be with you, heart and soul. 

Keeping the ceremony to strictly close family is a great way to let friends down gently, while promising them that they can still celebrate with you at a later time. 

Throw a second, low-key “reception”

This is a great idea because who doesn’t love more parties? If you were unable to invite a group of friends to your wedding, or your co-workers weren’t able to be there, throw a backyard party or grab a happy hour with everyone. Potlucks and backyard barbecues with plenty of food (that you don’t have to totally provide – win!), drink, and games will have everyone glad they didn’t have to get fancied up and pretend they know all the words to Living on a Prayer. You can make a master playlist on Apple Music or Spotify and relive the memories every time it comes on. This will also give your friends the chance to really interact with you without you having to move on quickly to greet everyone. Bonus points if it’s a gorgeous sunny day because we all know that vitamin D makes you happier! 

Live stream your ceremony & celebration

Facebook and Instagram both have features that allow you to livestream for free. Why not take advantage of these fantastic technologies and livestream the event for anyone that wasn’t on your intimate guest list, but still wants to participate. This is especially wonderful for family members that are separated by distance or you haven’t seen in a long time, but may want to witness you say “I Do” and watch your first dance in real time. So, take the phone that won’t be in your pocket and set it up to livestream your event. 

Eliminate plus ones

This may seem like a no brainer. But, just so it is said out loud, you do not have to invite a date for the folks you are including on your intimate wedding guest list. You invited these people specifically to be there to celebrate with you, so they can spend the time dancing with you instead of their date. Sorry, not sorry

Talk Candidly with Your Friends About Your Wedding

If you are worried about how someone may take the news that they didn’t get an invite to your intimate wedding, take a few minutes to talk to them ahead of time. Let them know that you have to keep your guest list intimate and that, while you wish you could invite everyone, you aren’t able to. You can simplify this as well by deciding which “friend groups” will be invited to the wedding or that you’ll have a separate celebration with in some way. If you’re anything like us, our friend groups can vary wildly from one to the next, and some of these don’t mix well with family. Picking just one or two can help eliminate drama and keep your guest count down. 

Take it out of town

Have you considered a destination wedding? While this option isn’t right for everyone, they do often mean that your guests can self-select if they will participate in your wedding day or not. This is an easy way to keep your guest list intimate. We have an entire post about destination weddings, complete with a handy list of questions to determine if it’s a good fit for you!

People will Understand More Now

Finally, people will just plain understand a little better right now. In the wake of COVID-19 and social distancing, large scale gatherings are simply going to be prohibited for the sake of public health for a while yet. Your friends and family will understand that you don’t want to delay starting this incredible next chapter of your life, even if it means they’re not invited to the wedding. 

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