On the 9th episode of Wedded, we talk about cheese (maybe a bit too much about cheese), how I wish I would have splurged a bit on a pair of designer shoes for the wedding, and the wedding guest list. Listen to the episode on your commute to work, or while you multitask. I’ve broken down the important topics below and have added a few more tips to consider.
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The wedding guest list can get out of hand quickly. If everyone who is making the decisions on the guest list can agree, that can make this task much easier. If only planning an event this big could be simple.
When should you start talking guest list?
A lot of decisions for your wedding will be affected by the size of your guest list. So if the number of guests at your wedding is a priority to you and your significant other, then you probably want to make a decision about the numbers before you get too busy planning. Do you imagine a small, intimate get together or do you imagine a large gathering of friends and family? Because the number of guests you plan on having will have a big impact on which venues will be able to host your event. You don’t need exact numbers but for “guest list priority” couples you’ll want a rough estimate to be able to pick a venue that will fit everyone without feeling too cramped or empty.
Why is discussing expectations and setting a number is important?
If you do have a budget, it’s time to make the hard decisions. The one thing that will kill your budget is having too many people on your guest list. Consider how much each guest will cost. Factor in how much each rental, invitation, save the date, hors d’oeurve, meal, and dessert will cost you. And if you’re looking at multiple locations for the ceremony and reception with a lot of out of town guests, then consider how much transportation will cost you if that’s something you’ll be providing. This will give you an average cost per head. Those costs, including venue, should be 40-50 percent of your budget. You have to make that percentage stretch for your entire guest list. When you think about it like that, adding a few extra people could end up costing you an extra $500 or more.
When making the guest list, it is important to ask each person involved with planning to consider who is an absolute must to invite to the wedding and to make those people aware of how much money each additional person will cost. I wouldn’t want you to have to put a price tag on your friends, but you are planning a wedding now. It’s going to happen.
So who do you include and who do you cut?
You are never going to make everyone happy. If you can start off this process with that perspective, it’s going to be easier. First, consider the close family and friends of you and your significant other (and your parents family and friends also). That is your must list or the A list if you prefer. If you don’t know if someone is on that list, consider if they’d be someone you’d text or call if something exciting or tragic happened in your life. Or would you just have them read about it on social media? If your A list fits what you are wanting, then congratulations, your guest list is complete and you overcome one of the hardest wedding planning tasks! Just remember on average, about 20% of that list will not be able to make it. So, have your B list on hand.
What if your A list is too long?
When you aren’t able to narrow down the A list, this is when you need to sacrifice somewhere.
Here are some ideas. Grab your favorite drink and chat about your options:
- Don’t invite kids.
- Ask parents to narrow it down to a reasonable number, if they aren’t willing, consider asking for an additional contribution as a compromise.
- If you aren’t too far into the planning, maybe a destination wedding would be a better option.
- Sacrifice in other areas. Don’t sacrifice in the three categories that are the most important to you, but if your list talk is going nowhere it’s best to consider sacrificing something else within your planning.
- Consider having a cheaper meal or instead of a full open bar, serve specialty couple cocktails, beer, and wine.
- If family takes up your entire guest list, think about having an afterparty with friends. Invite them for an evening part of the reception, just let them know it will be drinks and dancing.
- Have a morning wedding. Breakfast food and drinks tend to be cheaper.
If you got through this part of planning, congratulations, you deserve a date night. Go celebrate!
Check out some of our other podcast posts.
We’ve had a lot of great guests on Wedded. Check out some of our episodes with guests like wedding celebrant Josh Withers of the Rebels Guide to Getting Married, Lori Solomon and Megan Painter of Boldly Chic Events, Andi Sherman of Something Blue Stylists, and Jillian Zilch of Frame Worthy Events.
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