shrinking guest list stretching budget

Stretch Budgets and Shrink Guest Lists with a Certificate in Event Planning

It’s common sense that more guests equals more money. But, a certificate in event planning will give you the skills you need to shrink those guest lists and stretch your budgets to make for a successful event.

You might be wondering: what exactly are these skills? Well, we’re about to tell you so you know exactly what you’ll be learning during your event planning course!

Shrinking the Guest List

When you’re working with a client who has a 10-page list of who they want to invite to their event and a pretty limited budget, you’ll need some tactics so they don’t completely blow their budget on dinner alone. Remember, more guests equals less money spent per guest – which means a “cheaper” experience. When we talked about learning the true meaning of luxury in a recent post, we mentioned that cost-per-guest is the easiest way to have a luxury event on a budget. So, here are some people to suggest your clients not invite to shrink their list.

kids at wedding


This is an easy place to start when shrinking a guest list. Does your client really think their friends will watch their children all night and have a good time? Or are they going to end up going home early because their kids are bored and tired?

Accommodating children at weddings and events is expensive. Period. You’ll likely need activities and staff to keep them busy so the adults can enjoy the bar. So, when you’re helping your clients shrink their guest list, simply tell them to highlight who has kids. Make it clear on the invitations that children shouldn’t come to the event. Making a party a child-free zone will benefit the other guests, the parents, and your budget!

Old Friends

Get your clients to ask themselves a few questions as they go through the guest list:

  • Have you talked to this person in the last year?
  • If it’s a wedding: has your fiancé met this person?
  • Would they invite you to a big event or their wedding?

Questions like these will help you narrow down your guest list. Invite people your clients have a current relationship with. Does their high school BFF who they haven’t seen since graduation really need to be at their wedding?

plus ones at a wedding

Plus Ones

Speaking of old friends, they are also much more likely to bring a plus one. If you invite people who aren’t in your immediate family or friend group, they’re going to want to bring someone along who they actually know.

Limiting plus-ones is a simple way to shrink your guest list. This doesn’t mean saying no to all plus-ones, but perhaps only offering them to certain people. Get your clients to make some rules and ask themselves questions like:

  • Is this person married? (If yes, allow them a plus-one to bring their spouse)
  • Does this person live with their S.O.? (This could be an exception to the spouse-only rule)
  • If it’s a wedding: is this person in the wedding party? (Typically everyone in the wedding party gets a plus-one)

A-List System

We’re not talking A-list celebrities here – though it would make your event an interesting one if your clients knew a few. Consider the “A-List, B-List” system.

Have your clients come up with two lists, one of “must-invites” such as family and close friends (or business relationships if it’s a professional event). These invitations are sent out first. Once you receive some declined-RSVPs, send out invitations to people on the B-List to fill these spaces. The B-List should be ordered by importance.

It’s important to note that you need to be extremely organized to make this work. You wouldn’t want to send out too many invites and end up having more guests than you budgeted for.

Stretching the Budget

Some clients will want to invite everyone. They won’t budge on shrinking the guest list. But, they still have a low cost-per-person. Don’t fret! Here are some ways to stretch the budget without shrinking the guest list.

wedding invitations


We’ve talked about who should be invited, but you should be considering how the invitations are sent. Getting embossed invitations printed on high-grade paper is costly. So, consider sending electronic invitations! Whether through email or even a private Facebook event, most digital invitations are free or very cheap!


Chances are your client’s dream location is going to be very expensive. Work with them to consider more cost-friendly options. A budget-friendly event hall can be made into a luxurious wonderland with a few cost-efficient décor hacks.

This also includes considering date and timing. If the time of year isn’t critical to the event, think of cheaper times of the year (Think winter weddings and events).


Tying into the timing of events, consider morning or afternoon events instead of the evening. This will save you money on catering. Typically, brunch or lunch events will cost less. So, again, if your clients’ event doesn’t have to be a dinner, consider other options.

If your client insists on an evening event, that’s okay! Suggest doing a cocktail party instead of a full four-course dinner. Cocktail parties are classy and allow for plenty of socialization and mingling. Have staff walk around with trays of bite-sized snacks – these will cost a lot less than full meals.

negotiating with vendors


Negotiating with vendors is a skill you’ll begin to pick up during your online event planning class. But, it’s one you need to continue to nurture as you gain experience. Being able to negotiate prices will save you and your clients’ lots of money. Also, finding the best vendors and having a good rapport with them will take you a long way. You can gain their trust and they’ll be more likely to give you discounts or make deals.

There are so many ways for you to help your clients shrink their guest list and stretch their budget! The above skills and techniques are all things you’ll pick up throughout your event planning certification course! Just get creative and make those low-budget events feel luxurious!

Have you learned any other tips on shrinking your guest list? Let us know in a comment!

Do you think you don’t need to take party planner classes? Think again! Read this article to learn more.

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