Now that we have our budget, we can move on to step two of wedding planning: figuring out our guest list. That’s right, friends, BEFORE we choose our venue. So many things rely on this that the single most effective way of reigning in costs or knowing when you are able to splurge is to manage your guest count.
Sit down with your fiancé and have a heart to heart. Have you always wanted a small, intimate affair with your immediate family and very best friends? Do you see yourselves surrounded by a huge group of family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and their guests? Or is it somewhere in the middle? Once you decide on the maximum number of people you wish to invite, make sure that number is realistic for your budget. When you take into consideration the price of the invitation, their dinner and drinks and dessert, the chair they sit on, the table they eat from, the centerpiece on that table, the plates and glasses and silverware and favors and … whew… it all adds up, doesn’t it? Very quickly you realize spending $5000 to feed 50 people is very different than spending $5000 to feed 200 people.
If having a large number of people attend is important to you, and your budget won’t allow for a gourmet meal and an open bar and all the details you have your heart set on, you have some decisions to make. Maybe you would rather have a fabulous cocktail party instead, or just serve desserts and champagne? Breakfast weddings can be fabulous alternatives and many people won’t drink near the amount of alcohol in the morning than they would at a dinner reception. You could cut all the details like favors and videography and the fabulous custom monogram and have a simpler menu. Or you could decide to reduce your guest list. It is easier to free up an extra two thousand dollars in your budget by cutting two tables of ten than it is to slash all those other items that will make your wedding YOUR wedding, now isn’t it?
Now that you have a realistic idea of the maximum number of guests at your wedding, you can begin to make your lists. There are a few ways you can do this. The first involves having all the people who have a say in who will attend your wedding write down the names of the people they want to be there. Make sure you include yourselves, as well as your bridal party. Next, collect the lists and delete all duplicates, then add up the number of those still on the list. Hopefully, the number will be within your maximum attendees. The second option is for you and your fiancé make to your lists, subtract the number from your maximum attendees, then the remainder is divided up amongst your parents to invite whomever they choose.
But what happens if you have way too many people on your lists for the number of people you can afford (or wish) to invite? Time to start slashing. You could eliminate certain categories of guests – children, for example, or all the “+1″s. Generally though, most people can be placed into one of two groups – those you can’t imagine getting married without them there (or your”A” list), and those that would be nice to have there but aren’t essential (your “B” list). You invite your “A”s first, then as you get their responses you can begin inviting those on the “B” list to fill in where the “A” listers have sent regrets. Just make sure to choose a “return by” date that gives you plenty of time to send out the other group of invitations and get their responses before the wedding.
Now that you have your list ready, it is time to start collecting their addresses. Gah! Now aren’t you glad you are doing this early?