Congrats to all you happy couples who just got engaged! Starting to plan your wedding is such an exciting time. I’m sure one of the first things you’ll realize is that weddings are not cheap and the more guests you have, the more money you will spend. So, how do you control your guest list so that catering is not eating up (no pun intended) your entire wedding budget? Here are some tips:
1) Be realistic about who you want/need to invite. If you have not seen or talked to the person in two years, you probably don’t really need to invite her, even if you were invited to her wedding 7 years ago. Think about who is important in your life in the here and now, and focus on those people. Nobody wants to offend people, but remember this is YOUR big day and YOUR budget. Don’t feel like you have to invite everyone you have ever been friendly with.
2) Consider having an adults-only wedding. More and more people are doing this, and it really is ok and doesn’t make you an evil person! In most instances, caterers and venues consider a human being one person regardless of age. If you have a limited budget or your venue has a limited capacity, its OK to opt not to invite your co-worker’s 4 year old (who won’t remember or care) so that you can invite another college friend instead. If you do choose to go the No Children route, have family and friends help you spread the word verbally. You will also want to make sure the invitation is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” only, and you might consider having your RSVP card say “___ of 2 will attend” so that the couple will understand you are only reserving 2 spots for them.
3) Have you RSVP cards printed with two different RSVP dates. As a stationery designer, I frequently do this for clients. Say your wedding is on October 1st. You send out your first batch of invitations to your family and closest friends in mid July with an RSVP date of mid August. As you receive “No’s”, you send out more invitations, which have an RSVP date of September 1st. It’s a great system that really works, but please be careful that you do not send Batch A invitations to people who will be talking to Batch B people. That can get really tacky, if you know what I mean.
4) Remember that not everyone you invite will attend. As both a stationery designer and a venue owner, I would say 95% of the weddings I have worked on have turned out to have LESS guests than the couple originally expected. Based on my own experience, combined with some informal internet research, I think its safe to say that usually about 75% of your invited guests will attend. Unfortunately even if 100% want to come, people have work obligations, prior engagements, family commitments, and financial situations that will prevent them from doing so. So even if you’re wanting to invite 300 people, its probably worth it to take a look at a venue with a capacity of 250. Also remember that some people who RSVP that they are coming will end up not showing up (which is totally rude, but that’s another story…) But likewise, you may have a few people show up who did not RSVP.
In summary, remember that this is your day. Of course I don’t advocate being a Bridezilla, but when it comes to the guest list, both space and money make it necessary to make some tough decisions, and you should not feel guilty about it. Now open up those excel spreadsheets and get started!!