Whether you’re planning a small, intimate wedding, or a huge ceremony and reception, you’ll need to decide exactly who you should invite. This seemingly simple task can actually be quite stressful – it can be difficult to make these choices, since they may affect your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
If you need a little help planning out your numbers, you’ll enjoy this quick guide to creating the perfect guest list for your wedding. With our expert tips, it will be easier to make decisions that feel right to you – you’ll also be better prepared to stay on schedule and on budget. Here’s are some things to think about:
Small, Medium, or Large?
Your wedding size, the amount of people in your wedding party (bridesmaids, best man, ushers, etc.), and the number of guests you’ll invite are usually closely linked to your wedding budget. Therefore, knowing how much money you can spend on your ceremony and reception is priority one.
Today, many brides-to-be opt for smaller weddings that don’t cost a fortune – typically, as few as 15 or as many as 100 guests will be invited to watch you walk down the aisle in your white wedding dress! A medium-sized wedding will have 100+ to 300 guests, and a large wedding will have a guest list from 300+ to 500+ guests.
In order to set the right budget, you need to decide on the scale of your wedding – when you set up a budget, you should consider the cost of renting a venue, the price of catering and liquor, decor, your wedding dress, bridal rings, live musicians or a DJ, etc. You must also consider the cost of flowers, invitations, wedding favors…there are a lot of things to think about here. Sitting down and plotting things out will allow for a more accurate estimate.
If you’re working with a wedding planner, you must also think about the costs of their services…a wedding planner may actually save you money by finding affordable floral arrangements and decor, etc. Their expertise and connections can help you find deals during the planning process…
When you sit down to make a wedding budget, be generous with your estimates – it’s a rare bride-to-be who brings the whole thing in on or under budget…in other words, prepare yourself for overages and plan accordingly so you don’t run out of money. Using Excel software to make a wedding spreadsheet is a great idea – it allows you to see the big picture every time you open your document. Any good accounting software package, such as Quickbooks, may also be useful.
If you’re not software-savvy, make your own ledger in a notebook – the important thing is write down every single anticipated expense, and to regularly balance your ledger as you write checks, pay for wedding-related costs, and see what’s left to buy or rent.
Once you’ve decided on small, medium, or large, it will be easier to begin crafting a guest list.
Look At Your Relationships
Everyone will tell you that it’s your wedding, and that you should invite whomever you want to…however, life is not really that simple. You must consider your relationships, past and present, when deciding who to invite. You must consider the “political” implications of including or excluding certain people – will they be offended? Will your choices have negative consequences? If your wedding is small, it’s often easier to explain the decision to invite only close family and friends. However, some feathers may still be ruffled by your choices.
Many couples find the selection process very draining, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by going through your contacts in Outlook email, “black books”, and social networking sites. Think about who you really connect with on a regular basis – you should honor the friendships and relationships that are nurtured every day. Aside from immediate family (who should always be invited, unless there is a lot of family drama or issues at play), these close friends who make an effort to connect with you should be second on the list.
Next, think about your career – are there any colleagues, such as a boss or partner, who might be offended if they don’t receive an invitation? It’s often better to include such persons on your guest list – after all, we spend so much of our time at work, that it just makes sense to keep our work relationships as healthy as possible!
Now that you have a master list of immediate family, close friends, and colleagues, add up your numbers. Can you make your “magic” number work with your size of wedding? If you have space left over, think about inviting more distant family members…or allow guests to bring a date with them. If you’ve got too many people for your scale of wedding, you need to narrow your choices down…or plan a larger wedding.
If someone else is helping you pay for your nuptials, you should be very sensitive to their desires, as they relate to the guest list. Yes, it’s your wedding, but they are spending lots of money to make your day special! In light of this, it’s a great idea to consult with your parents or whomever is paying for wedding dresses, venue, catering, and all of the bells and whistles, before you finalize the guest list. It’s all about diplomacy and showing your gratitude.
Stand Behind Your Choices
Once you’ve carefully considered your vision for your wedding, and how it can be realized with the ideal guest list, you should be confident with your choices. In the end, you’ve done your best to think of everyone. Now, it’s time to move on to the “fun stuff”! Choosing a bridal dress, bridesmaids dresses, and wedding accessories can be much more fun than planning the guest list. Stand behind your choices, and truly enjoy the romantic special occasion that lies ahead!