Wedding Planning – The Guest List

You may wonder why I put the Budget section first as many people begin with the guest list. Well, as discussed last week your budget is what you have; and because you only have what you have, the budget is not (and should not be) flexible while your guest list is. How many guests you have attending your wedding is the single biggest factor affecting your budget.

guest list

Photo Brendan Landy

So once again you are sitting down as a couple to discuss your priorities (beware, this will be a recurring theme with me). Do you envisage a small intimate wedding of 40 or 400 of your closest friends? Look back at your budget for a realistic maximum number. If your budget is 10,000 then you may have to cut down on the 400 closest friends because remember that nearly half of your entire budget is going towards your reception food and drink.
Think about who you must have at this most important moment of your lives and each do out a rough draft of guests. You may remember people later that you can add on but think carefully about this. You shared a dorm room with them in college but if you haven’t been in touch with them in two years are you still that close?
Once you have your priorities, you do have to (unfortunately) consider who is paying or contributing to the wedding budget as they should have a say, to an extent, about who is included. This is your second encounter with family diplomacy. Hopefully their list will include duplicates of guests that are on your lists like aunts, uncles and cousins but unless you and your parents have an unlimited budget your father’s golfing buddies and your mother’s women’s group should probably be cut. Sorry Mom and Dad.
A good basic division is 1/3 your guests 1/3 fiancé’s guests and 1/3 both sets of parents.
“…And Guest” I have done many many table plans and this one really gets me. Maybe I’m just an ole so and so (you can fill in the so and so) but if you don’t know the person’s name why have you invited them to your wedding? Again, unlimited budget? The more the merrier, but if you are working to a budget invite the person you want to invite and not the person they have been dating for a week. Most likely they will know others on your guest list and you will seat them all at the same table. If this guest is seeing someone for a significant amount of time then find out the person’s name and it should go on the invitation.

Guest Lists wedding party shaped like a heart

Photo by Steve sole

Once you have your guest list outline you may still need to make some cuts. A few other things to consider here is if you need to invite children; or what about co-workers? Do you speak to them outside of work or hang out on the weekends? Do you have to have all of your cousins and extended families? Try to stick to Aunts and Uncles and cousins that you are particularly close to.
Don’t invite people out of guilt. If your cousin had a huge wedding with every cousin and their partners doesn’t mean you have to. If someone invited you to their wedding 4 years ago you don’t have to invite them. Remember relationships change and unfortunately sometimes people move on. The bottom line is you want guest who have played a significant part in your life to date and that have a special meaning for you not just now but also for your future.
Good Luck!

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