You have found your perfect mate, you’ve picked a venue and the date. Now comes one of the hardest parts of planning your wedding – creating your guest list.
Before adding even your first guest to the list, you should sit down with the relevant decision makers and discuss your goals. A blog post on A Practical Wedding, lists the following questions to work through with your partner and loved ones:
To help you answer those questions and get you started on your path to creating your ideal guest list, we have put together several tips, gathered from experts at the VUE, The Knot, Wedding Wire and Martha Stewart Weddings.
There are a lot of factors that go into creating a guest list, but the one that might save you the most stress is to build a guest list using an online program like The Knot Wedding Guest List Manager or WeddingWire’s Guest List Tool. These tools allow you to keep track of everyone’s mailing addresses, RSVPs, menu preferences, seating charts and more. These programs also make it very easy to export and print or send to vendors. Later in life you will be happy you created this list as you will be able to use it to send holiday cards, party invitations, etc.
When you get started creating your guest list, include everyone you would ever want to attend your wedding. Now is not the time for cutting, that will come later. This is the time to create the master list, from which you can cut or replace as the date gets closer.
This list will also include the dream lists of your spouse, your parents, your spouse’s parents and anyone else who has a say.
According to The Knot, traditionally the couple gets half the guest list, and each set of parents gets a quarter of the guest list. So if you’re planning to invite 200 people, you’d get 100 guests, your parents would get 50 and your fiancé’s parents would also get 50.
After you have made your dream list and determined that there is no way you can afford to invite everyone, you will have to decide where to draw the line. This is where the online guest list tools are great. You can make separate lists for the people you must invite and people who would be nice to invite but are not a priority. Later, when you more fully understand your budget you can decide who gets added or removed based on priority.
Most decisions related to your wedding are based on your budget, and the guest list is one of the easiest ways to exceed it. Every guest adds dollars, from food, to favors, even the chair they sit on costs money. And don’t forget to include plus-ones and kids when creating your list – they can make your list larger than you originally intended.
“Guest count is the #1 thing that will variably affect your bottom line. More guests equals more tables, linens, table settings, favors, food, alcohol, parking spaces, hotel welcome bags, etc,” said Michaela Neu Barteldt, VUE, Wedding Sales and Marketing. “If you’re looking to stick to a budget, your first line for cutting expenses without sacrificing more of the wedding itself should be your guest list.”
The Knot has a budget tool, The Knot Budget Calculator, that you can try out to see how much each guest will cost you.
There are numerous challenging scenarios when creating a guest list. Wedding Wire suggests the following rules to help you decide things like if you should invite your college roommate or your second cousin’s children.
“A lot of people struggle with giving everyone a plus-1. I would say that if your budget allows, a plus-1 for anyone in a serious relationship of 6 months or longer at the time you send out invitations would be a nice courtesy,” Michaela said. “Some people extend a plus-1 to every guest not in a relationship just to give them someone to hang out with if they don’t know any other guests. This is completely a judgement call on behalf of the couple.”
Another important rule, according to The Knot, is to set boundaries and stick to them. If that means having hard conversations, do it. There are a lot of emotions involved in planning a wedding, but remember when it comes down to it, this is you and your partner’s special day.
Ready to start planning the details of your wedding? Vue’s event team can help! Contact us today to get started.