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How to Adjust Your Guest List During the Pandemic

The pandemic has changed so many aspects of our world, not least of all weddings.

Anyone who had planned a 2020 wedding has had to rethink...well, everything. Do you cancel and reschedule? Do you make adjustments? And if so, how do you make those adjustments to ensure your friends and family are safe? Step one is paring down the guest list, which isn’t an easy feat if you have a large family and a big group of friends. If you’re lost as to where to start, here’s some guidance for adjusting your guest list:

Wedding guest book

1. Decide on the Final Number

Before you start, decide what you want the outcome to be. If you have 50 guests and your state or county’s restrictions limit gatherings to 20 people, then you already know you have 30 tough decisions to make. If there aren’t any gathering limits, decide how many people you feel comfortable bringing together. Even if that’s just 5 people, that’s okay. But know the number up front.

Married couple's hands wearing wedding rings

Rings: The Titan, The Evermore

2. Consider Immediate Family Only

The easiest way to make your guest list smaller is to keep only your immediate family members. These are the people who are closest to you, and they’re likely the ones you told about your engagement first. If you have a less traditional family, or your friends are your family, keep the same idea in mind: those who you couldn’t imagine having a wedding without should be the ones who stay on the list.

Outdoor wedding reception

3. Look at Who’s High Risk

With immediate family members in mind, let’s talk about the high risk population. Elderly family members and those with preexisting conditions are at more risk during the pandemic. The precautions they take are their personal choice, but you can help them out by expressing how much you care about their safety. Your wedding is important, but you want them to be around for years to come, so you might want to have a heart to heart and see where they stand. The decision is yours, at the end of the day, but finding out the other person’s perspective is valuable, particularly if they’re a close family member.

The Sofia

Ring: The Sofia

4. Out of Town Guests Are Likely More Willing to Adjust

Since travel is limited and discouraged, you will probably have an easier time letting your out of town guests know about the guest list changes. Even if you don’t have many out of town guests, you should still consider letting them off the hook simply due to safety, both theirs and that of others. Financial considerations might also make this a better choice if you were planning on covering travel expenses for those guests.

Small outdoor wedding reception

5. Rethink Your “Pity Invites”

It might not be a pleasant topic, but facts are facts: you probably have at least one or two people on your guest list that you invited out of feelings of obligation. A cousin you saw once when you were 12, a BFF from college who’s more of an acquaintance now, or that Facebook friend who likes all your posts but you haven’t actually spoken to are all people to rethink.

Married couple's hands wearing wedding rings

Rings: The Titan, The Desire, The One and Only

6. No Plus Ones

Plus ones can add up quickly, even in a smaller wedding. Your guests will all understand your reasoning behind prohibiting plus ones, and if the guests you have included all know each other, they’ll have the opportunity to bond more rather than be distracted by their dates! Of course, there are some exceptions, such as if your two best friends are a couple.

Bride and groom celebrating with wedding party

7. Offer Virtual Attendance Invitations

After you trim down your list, you’ll have to contact all your guests and let them know the change of plans. The conversation will go a lot smoother if you can offer an alternative, such as virtual attendance! Virtual weddings have really taken off during the pandemic; all you need is someone to stream the ceremony, and you can keep your full guest list (minus some physical guests).

The Queen

Ring: The Queen

8. Remind Everyone You Can Still Get Together - Later

Lastly, let your guests know that changing your current plans doesn’t mean you can’t make new ones in the future. When the pandemic is under control and you can all get together, have a reception or maybe even a vow renewal ceremony! The celebration will be all the sweeter when you can dance, laugh, and hug together after so much time apart.

Bride and groom kissing