Myth: You WILL save $$$,
Truth: Sorta; You can. You just can't spring for Fillet's for 30 guest at $100 a head.
According to The Knot, 30% of your budget goes towards food. Another 21% goes towards things that would be impacted by your guest list: reception space, beverages, cake, and wedding invitations. Let's play out a common scenario.
You work all the numbers and you decide to not invite 100 people that you would normally invite. If food is $50 per person, you now feel like you've just saved $5,000 by not inviting those people. Let's add $3/person for a cake slice and $2/invitation per couple. That brings us to saving $5,200.
You have a smaller guest list which means you are looking at smaller reception venues. The most common place would be a restaurant. The only problem is restaurants need to meet minimums so they may charge you a minimum that shocks you a bit. If you do find a decent priced reception spot you feel like you have the ability to spend a little more on nicer food since you're saving over $5,000. You can also now afford a nicer wedding cake and your wedding invitations can be nicer since you need fewer of them. It is not uncommon to feel that you can "spend" your savings. It's a common mind-trick we all play any time we buy $100 worth of clothes but SAVED $200 because of sales. We still SPENT $100!
Myth: You can avoid DRAMA!
The desire to avoid stress actually creates it. You can think that fewer people means less fighting, fewer opinions, and more flexibility, not to mention less money stress. But ultimately the people who are likely to stress you out are the very people you may be ticking off: parents, grandparents, close relatives or friends. For every couple who loved their destination wedding there is another couple who has been given an emotional roller coaster by family or friends who don't appreciate the extraordinary time and money spent to attend "your" ideal wedding location.
Myth: Key Stakeholders WON'T CARE
The chances of anyone in your inner circle agreeing on an ideal wedding is low but as soon as you start excluding some people and including others, you enter a huge guest list landmine. Whether you are trying to determine which family members should be invited - exclude second cousins? Only invite adults? you are entering into family loyalty, notions about what a wedding means, and potentially offending important loved ones. A worst case scenario is when you start building alliances among people (without your knowledge) who threaten to boycot the wedding if the others aren't invited.
Just because you barely know your parents friends or coworkers does not mean you should automatically consider them "extras". If your parents rely heavily on the friendship of these people and really want them to be there for THEIR big day (the day they acquire a new son or daughter-in-law and marry off their child). It is worth considering some of those people have been in your parents lives longer than you've been alive and that some of your friends or coworkers may vanish from your life in the next 5 years as your life changes.