Hello miss bride-to-be and happy Monday! Today, I wanted to pop on to give a few tips on one of the biggest stressors of weddings: managing your wedding guest list. That’s right, I said the forbidden word! The guest list is never a fun thing to talk about, especially because it involves people’s feelings. There is certainly no perfect way to navigate this issue, and coming from a bride who had over 300 people on her initial guest list, I can speak to you in saying that it was a constant concern in my own wedding planning. Here are my 5 tips for managing your wedding guest list!
If you already know you are going to have a large wedding, take that into consideration when choosing your venue. The first determinant of your guest list is your venue space. How many people can be seated in the ceremony space? How many tables fit in the reception space? Outdoor venues typically have more flexibility with this, whereas indoor venues have a pretty set number. One of the mistakes that will add unnecessary stress is choosing a venue with far less capacity then your realistic guest list.
This one is a huge factor that sometimes gets overlooked until later in the planning process. I’m not much of an accountant, but we all know that there are fixed costs and variable costs. Your venue, dress, coordinator, photographer, etc., are all fixed costs, meaning that you are paying a set cost for them regardless of how many people attend the wedding. Typically you will have an idea of what each will cost and have options to choose from in different price points. Variable costs are based strictly on guest count and goods that are priced per person. For each extra meal, place setting, chair, table, drink, guest favor, piece of cake, etc., the price increases exponentially. If you are trying to remain within a certain budget, be sure to factor the variable costs in when determining your guest list.
David and I both grew up in Boise, went to college in the Boise area, and have both of our families in Boise. Our families are very involved in their churches and social groups and also have quite a few friends themselves. Because of this, we knew from the start that there was a lot of people on the essential guest list. We realized that we simply didn’t have space for every family friend to bring their 2 or 3 children with them to the wedding. My mother-in-law suggested that we make it a date night affair (genius!). A wedding can be a great reason to get a sitter, leave the kids at home, dress up and enjoy a night out with your spouse! This is a kind way to let people know that this isn’t a whole family affair, plus, it makes it a fun occasion for them!
If you find that you are still struggling to manage your guest list and have a certain number to stay below, consider choosing a venue that requires a little more effort to get to. I’m not saying if your guest list is too large, forget it and go to Hawaii (but if a destination wedding is your dream, please do!) What I am saying is, just by picking a venue an hour or two out of the way, guests are required to put a little more effort into attending. People who truly want to be there will make the effort. Here in Idaho, we have McCall that’s just 2 hours away, or Sun Valley that is 3 hours. Both of these quaint mountain towns have beautiful venues, and can still be visited in a day trip.
I know this is what your fiance is telling you every day, but really, I mean it. Most statistics show that only 70-80% of people you invite will end up attending your wedding, and that’s on the high side! People have a lot going on, especially in the summer months and will have conflicts that don’t allow them to come. People will also understand if you’re having a small wedding and they don’t make it on the guest list. At the end of the day, you’re going to be married, and you won’t even remember if you did or didn’t invite distant fourth cousin Betty to the wedding.