There are certain aspects about planning your dream wedding that aren’t as fun as others. Planning the perfect wedding guest list is definitely not the most enjoyable part of the planning process, but there are certainly ways to make it less stressful and more bearable. Here are some helpful tips for how to manage your guest list.

Compile your dream list.

This is the list where you invite everyone you could possibly want and imagine at your wedding. It can range from your old high school teacher to that neighbor that you rarely talk to, but always wave at. Obviously, you’ll have to cut down on guests once you really get down to the actual and final list, but this is a great starting point.

Be realistic.

Even though you might want 500 guests, you have to be mindful of the venue and how many guests could possibly fit in there at maximum capacity. You also have to factor in your budget. The more guests you invite, the more you’ll have to spend on favors, cake, seat rentals, food, etc. It is better to be more conservative when it comes to your guest list. You don’t want to cramp your guest into your venue or empty your bank account trying to fit too many people. It will also be less stressful if you are aware of how many guests you can truly afford early on during your planning period.

Split up the list.

This is one of the difficult parts of planning your guest list. If parents are contributing financially to the wedding, you might have to give them some percentage of the guest list for them to manage. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world though. A good rule of thumb is for the couples to get half the guest lists and then a quarter goes to each set of parents. Keeping it all fair and less stressful is the way to go, since it will avoid drama later on.

Trim the fat.

This is where it truly gets tricky. Now that you know how many guests you can invite, you can start cutting people out from the previous dream list. One of the easiest ways to get through this process is by setting up rules that will make it  easier to eliminate people. For example, have I talked to this person in the last two years? Would this person invite you to their wedding? Are they just on the list because you feel guilty leaving them off? Do I talk to/see them outside of work or social media? Can you imagine your wedding day without them? You can come up with more parameters for determining your list as you see fit. Just know that this may be a grueling and frustrating experience, but you’ll end up with a better wedding because of it.

Have an A-list and a B-list.

Making two lists can actually help invite the most guests without going over budget or having to find a different place to host your wedding. The A-list is made up of the people that made the cut and must be invited to the wedding. The B-list are those that almost made the cut and that you still want at your wedding. Sadly, not everyone that’s on the A-list will be able to go, but you can always fill up their empty spots with people from the B-list.

Hopefully, these tips will help make the wedding planning process easier. Just remember it’s your wedding day and focus on the people that you truly want to remember that you celebrated it with.