Biggest Challenge for “Covid Brides”: Narrowing Down Your Guest List


Hey, #CovidBrides! (Do y’all love or hate that term? I need to know. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜¬) This is the latest in my series of Covid-19 related blog posts. In case you haven’t read the others, here’s what we’ve covered so far:


In today’s post, we’re talking about something heavy on the hearts of most couples planning their 2020 or 2021 wedding: narrowing down your guests list.

Full disclosure: This post might stir up some uncomfortable feelings and lead to tough conversations about who and what is most important to you. Know that I truly feel your pain. This isn’t easy.

Ok, let’s continue.


La Tourelle Hotel Ithaca, New York Wedding Photos


I know this is heavy

This is a hard topic to discuss because a lot of feelings and obligations are wrapped up in creating your guest list: who you’re closest to, making others happy, the size of your family, and who’s paying for your wedding, to name a few.

Right now, the spread of Covid-19 is getting worse, and more restrictions are being placed on the number of people who can gather together. In some places, no more than 10 people can gather, and it must happen outdoors.

For brides & grooms, these restrictions mean choosing between keeping your large guest list + rescheduling your wedding OR cutting your guest list + keeping your original wedding date.

Both options are not ideal. And what makes it worse is that during these times of social isolation, we want to surround ourselves with friends and family NOW MORE THAN EVER. πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

If you need to pause here to quietly grieve or scream as loud as you can, go for it.


Getting to the root of it

For brides who have always imagined a large wedding with lots of dancing, the thought of having a small wedding or an elopement can be hard to accept. Big parties and weddings just seem to go together, but why do we feel that way?

Here’s my guess. It’s because weddings represent the start of something big and a turning point in your lives. Spending months planning an event, investing a significant amount of money, and inviting people to share those memories with you makes it feel BIGGER. But truthfully, the biggest thing to come from your wedding day is not a party that lasts one day, but a marriage that lasts 50 or 60 years.

Many of my 2020 couples are choosing to have a small wedding on their original date and a larger party near their one year anniversary. That got me thinking… Do the wedding and the party need to be connected? Is it possible for your wedding to feel like a big turning point without hosting a large event?

Everyone may have different answers to those questions, so I encourage you to sit down together to discuss them. If you’d like to hear directly from my May 2020 brides who had TINY weddings, check out this blog post >


La Tourelle Hotel Ithaca, New York


Making it feel like a big turning point

If you decide to have a smaller wedding with fewer guests, what are ways to make your wedding feel really special and significant?

Ways to make your small wedding feel BIG

  • Turn your wedding into a vacation by choosing an incredible location. Want to hike up a mountain and get married on a cliffside? You can! Want to stand in the ocean while you say your vows? Do it!!
  • Wear your fancy wedding dress, get your hair & makeup done by a professional, and splurge on your dream bouquet.
  • Treat yo’ self in small ways. Chances are that you’re not spending as much money as you originally planned, so be intentional with where you put those extra funds. Use it for things you both really really want, and go above and beyond for yourselves. (Buy the fancy champagne flutes you had your eye on, go to a spa, choose steak instead of chicken, upgrade to a suite at your honeymoon hotel… you get the idea!)
  • Hire a great photographer so you can remember it all and show your friends and family. πŸ˜‰


Ways to connect with friends and family

At most large weddings, the reality is that you only have time to talk to each guest for one minute before you’re whisked off to the next table or next event. Aside from your closest friends and immediate family, you probably won’t spend quality time with each guest. So, what if you could do this in other ways?

  • Intentionally connect with your friends and family over the phone or video call before or after your wedding day.
  • Live stream your wedding online and talk to the viewers after your ceremony. You’ll be surprised how many people will watch! There are tips about live streams here >
  • Have a virtual wedding shower.
  • Have a reception or anniversary party later!

Tips for narrowing down your list

  • Start with your immediate family (parents and siblings only).
  • Add your best friends
  • Consider making it an “adults only” wedding.
  • If you still have some spots to fill, consider who has been in your life the longest and who will continue to be there.
  • Consider who lives the closest to your wedding location. Will out-of-town guests be able to travel far distances?
  • Consider politely asking family friends and coworkers to join the live-stream instead


After sending out invitations, follow up with guests to get their RSVPs. Do this more quickly than you normally would. If someone in your “top 25” can’t come, there’s one more spot available to offer to someone else!

And remember that some people may be uncomfortable with attending a wedding, especially if they need to travel there. Let them know that you’d love them to be there but their attendance is optional.


Uninviting people: Ways to announce the change

If you need to shrink your guest list, people will understand. Coronavirus has been hard on everyone, and people will sympathize with your situation. Here are some ways to break the news:

  • Instead of making individual phone calls, send out a mass email or Facebook post announcing the change.
  • Several of my couples have recorded a video of themselves talking about the challenges they’ve faced and why they’ve decided to scale down their wedding or elope. Post that baby on Facebook and nobody will have annnnnnyy questions about your decision!


Also, just to state the obvious here… your aunt or your coworker not coming to your wedding will NOT ruin their lives. If they’re upset about not being invited to your 20 person wedding, they’ll recover, I promise. 😊


Lastly, I’ll end with a funny TikTok video, because sometimes when things are tough, it’s best to make light of it.

You’ve got this!!

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  1. […] If you could only invite 20 people, who would they be? What about 5 people? Read more about narrowing down your guest list > […]

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