You've always heard "the more the merrier". While it's true that a large number of people would probably love to celebrate your marriage, realistically you may not have the wedding budget for such a grand affair. Following this guide may help to diminish your limitless list of guests.
Create A and B lists. Include immediate family and your closest friends on the A list. These are people who would feel honestly since if they did not receive an invite and you would not really be able to celebrate if these folks were not there. On the B list, place people you'd like to have in attendance but who may not be an absolute necessity. Second cousins and co-workers are examples. On average, 20% of the guests on your must-have list will not be able to attend. Once you've surpassed this percentage of reduced RSVP cards, begin mailing invitations to guests on your B list in order of importance.
Include specific names on your RSVP cards. Instead of inviting Aunt Gail and Guest, invite only Aunt Gail. She's just broken up with her boyfriend anyway and she can hang out with your mom and their other sisters. This also helps to avoid any confusion and uncomfortable inquiries from bridesmaids, old friends, and others who may wonder if they need to scour a date for your big day.
Do not let yourself be pushed around by parents. In-laws and others have been known to bully the bride and groom into inviting their own circle of friends, co-workers, and other acquaints. Take a firm stand. Do not budge or the dam will break and there will be no end to the list of potential party-goers. You may feel uncomfortable but the truth of the matter is, this is your celebration and you should have the final say. If you're still feeling awkward about telling your mom-to-be that she can not invite fifteen more people, calmly and openly explain to her that both you and your future hubby have divided the number of invitations equally in order to meet your budget and you would be willing to include her guests if she's able to contribute to the cost.
Make it all or nothing at work. Unless you have a few close friends with what you spend time socially outside of your cubicle, leave your employer and fellow employees off the list. Feelings are usually not hurt as long as you stick to the all or none rule.
Create strict cutting criteria. Eliminate anyone whose name is not familiar to you or you partner (even if your father swears that Jim Davis was his wingman in college and he'd be bitterly disappointed if he missed the wedding). And consider an "anniversary" rule in relation to your guests and their dates. For example, if a single guest has been dating their significant other for over a year they will receive an "and guest" design (remember to list this explicitly on the RSVP to help prevent other singles from adding names to the card and cost to your bill again maintaining a wedding budget).
Finally, consider an adults-only reception. This works particularly well for celebrations taking place in the evening, at which time tos should be home in bed and grown-ups can feel free to let loose. Determine an appropriate age limit- perhaps no children under the age of 13 or 18. This approach can cut down on the chaos factor and help buoy your wedding budget.