Wedding: Determining Your Guest List

Here are some simple rules and techniques to follow when determining your own guest list for your wedding.

When you and your partner sit down to finally discuss the budget for your upcoming nuptials, you may be amazed at how much a wedding can cost. Once you add up the photographer, caterer, florist and venue bills, you will start to wonder how anybody can afford to get married without getting into some form of debt. If your parents are footing the bill, unless they own a series of hotel chains, you will probably want to keep the budget realistic. The largest expenses you will accrue will be your catering and the rental of the venue. Both of these expenses will depend solely on how many guests will be attending, so one of the first things you and your partner will want to do, to determine the size of your wedding, is to create a solid guest list.

Take a good long look at your budget. Are you thinking more along the lines of a $5,000 wedding or a $15,000 wedding? Your budget is directly proportional to the number of guests you will be inviting. Caterers usually charge per head, so once you have roughly decided on who will be providing the food for your wedding, you can get an idea of how much you can spend. If the caterer charges $15 per head and you are looking towards a $5,000 wedding, you may want to limit your guests to 50 or 75, so that you can still have money left over for other wedding essentials. Determine how much you want to spend and then give yourselves a solid number of guests to work with, based on that figure.

Once you have that solid number to work with, each one of you should take a notepad and jot down the names of all the people you absolutely MUST invite, including immediate family members and close friends. This list should be pretty firm. Do not include anybody in these lists that you are still iffy about inviting, like distant relatives and co-workers. On the other side of the list, each of you should write a list of people you do not want to be invited. For example, if your future wife wants to invite her ex-boyfriend and that makes you uncomfortable, be sure to note that on your notepad, so she understands your wishes.

If you have already reached your guest maximum with this list, you will probably need to stop right there and not proceed with this next step. If you have not yet reached your guest maximum, write down a list of people you would like to invite. This could include co-workers, old high school buddies or sorority sisters from college. More than likely, this will take your guest list over the edge.

By this point, you probably have already exceeded your guest list maximum that you have established. Now is the time to shave the list down. One easy way to shave the list is to eliminate any extra "guests" that your own guests might invite. In other words, when addressing the invitation, be sure to address it only with your friend's or relative's name. Do not include the "+ guest" option. Depending on the type of wedding you are having, you may want to eliminate children under ten or fifteen from the list. This will cut down your guest list tremendously, especially if you both have large families. If your guest list is still teetering over the edge, go through your list of "possible" guests and do the five year test. If you have not seen or spoken to them in over five years, drop them from the list. You may also eliminate colleagues or co-workers, especially if you are getting into a situation where you are only wanting to invite a few colleagues and not everybody from your office.

If you are still having trouble eliminating guests, and are over your maximum guest allowance by a little bit, go ahead and invite everybody. No doubt, you will have some friends or relatives who will not be able to make the wedding, which will keep your guest list at the level you originally wanted.

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