Creating the guest list for your big day can be one of the most stressful things you do when planning a wedding. There is so much to think about, people you don’t want to disappoint, and expectations you might feel like you have to fulfill that it could take you a while to narrow down all the details. Trying to figure out who to invite to your weddingis no easy task, but if you keep in mind the following factors, you’ll be on your way to the ideal wedding guest list for your venue, budget, and taste.
There is no one-size fits all answer to figuring out who to invite to your wedding. There are, however, a number of factors to consider before you even begin writing names down on the guest list, such as figuring out your budget, knowing how many people your venue can hold, and discussing what your dream wedding looks like with your partner before you let anyone else get involved. You may find that you and your future spouse desire a small intimate affair, while your parents have other plans. Sticking to your limits and setting down hard boundaries around your big day is sometimes the only way to ensure you don’t overwhelm yourselves and your budget while planning a wedding.
When asking yourself “how many people should I invite to my wedding,” the first thing you need to figure out is your budget. You may find that the cost of planning a wedding is much more than you had imagined, with the average guest costing nearly $500 USD. For each additional person on the guest list, you need to figure in everything from the cost of smaller items, such as catering and alcohol, to larger items such as renting your venue. The more people you invite, the more tables, chairs, decorations, and space you’ll need. A larger wedding guest list might also take funds from other areas of your budget, so deciding what is most important to you is always a good idea.
One of the most expensive parts of planning a wedding is choosing a venue. Different venues hold different amounts of people, which means you first need to decide what is most important to you, having a specific wedding venue for your big day or inviting the number of people you want. If the venue you’ve always dreamed of only houses 50 guests, then you already have a general idea of who to invite to your wedding. On the other hand, if your wish is to have a large wedding but you’re not sold on a specific place, then you can narrow down your options based on your ideal number of guests. Knowing your venue may also help you decide if your guests can bring their little ones.
There is no set rule about who to invite to wedding events, especially when kids are involved. Special considerations, such as what to feed them, how to keep them entertained, and who will be responsible for them throughout the ceremony and reception must be made, and while that responsibility doesn’t always fall on the lap of the bride and groom, it can mean unforeseen expenses. You first need to decide if you want them there, then ask your guests how they feel. Many guests prefer not to worry about their kids at weddings so that they can enjoy the festivities with less limitations, while others feel a strong desire to include kids at weddings because they hold a special place in the lives of the bride and groom. If you decide to invite them, make sure to factor in certain things like a special kids menu into your budget.
The list of who to invite to wedding-related events is typically much smaller than your actual wedding guest list. Your engagement party, wedding shower, and bachelor and bachelorette parties are usually reserved for your closest friends and family, which not only helps keep down their cost, but also ensures that each event is an intimate affair.
The first step in writing the guest list is to have each spouse write down their absolute-musts. This part of the list should include anyone in the bridal party, close family, and the special people who will make your special day feel complete. Next, add in extended family members and friends who you’ve socialized with as a couple in the last six months. This should give you a good start. If there is still room in your budget for additional guests, branch out to your extended friend group and colleagues, but keep in mind that as your list gets less and less intimate, more and more people will expect an invite. Finally, after you and your future spouse have had your say in who has made the cut, if you have extra spots still available ask your parents if there is anyone they feel needs to be invited. Keep extra guests even on both sides and be sure to have a conversation with them about your budget and your expectations before you open the list up to their suggestions so that no one feels frustrated at the end of the day.
After all is said and done, you and your future spouse should feel good about who is on your wedding guest list. If years down the road you’re going to regret not inviting someone, make a space now, and likewise, if you couldn’t care less, find the courage to cross them off the final list. When you stick to your budget and your desires, everyone’s wins.