When it comes to your wedding, you should get to invite every single person you want. But unfortunately, it's just not that simple. From family needs to venue constraints, there's a lot to consider before you make your final count. Here, our experts reveal the key points you must consider before you decide just how big your bash will be.
Consider Your Budget
According to Kelly Heyn, owner of SociaLife Event Planning in New Jersey, your budget should be the number one factor in how large your guest list grows. "Without a realistic goal on what you would like to spend, you will not know how many guests you can even afford to invite," she points out. So create your budget first, she says, by calculating your largest costs and even the smallest expenses that can quickly add up.
"Typically, couples only think of the venue when they consider their guest count and tend to overlook the little things," Heyn says. "But with more guests come the additional expenses of invitations, stamps, favors, stationery, transportation, and even larger cakes. Consider all of the extras when you are factoring your guest list as they quickly add up." Should you find at any time your guest list has grown past your budget, "I advise going down in guest count to allow yourself to get the wedding of your dreams," says Alicia Matsumoto, owner of Bespoke Design.
Consult Your Families' Must-Invite Lists
Your guest list is not the only one you'll have to consider, say Heyn and Matsumoto. Both of your families will likely have people they'd like to see in attendance. "After you have an idea of what you would like to spend, have everyone on both sides of the family create their must list," says Heyn.
Matsumoto advises setting a limit on how many guests each family can add to their lists. "That way," she says, "no one is surprised down the road." Of course, if your families are footing the bill, expect them to have a stronger say in how large your guest list becomes. "This means sometimes they will want to invite people that you are not as close with, but just remember that they're giving you this wedding day so it's part of the price you pay," says Matsumoto. "That being said, it should not give your family free rein to invite anyone they want!"
Consider Your Guests' Comfort
Your venue may boast space for 250 guests. But if that means cramming in everyone so that they feel like sardines, you may want to cut back on how many people you invite, Heyn points out. "Make sure that your venue can absolutely fit your guest count," she advises. "Ask them to see a floor plan with that number of tables and seats. You ultimately want you and your guests to enjoy the wedding experience and not feel too cramped on the dance floor or bumping into tables and chairs all night."
Categorize Your Initial Guest List
One last tip to help you determine your final count, says Matsumoto, is to create your dream list broken down into color-coded categories. "Categorize guests into various groups from must-haves to distant acquaintances," she says. "If you find a venue or discover that your budget won't allow for all the people you would like to attend, it makes for easy editing later on." Not only that, she says, "it also helps to create rules to guide you in who should receive that coveted invitation. For example, if you haven't spoken to the person in a year or more, they probably don't need to be on your guest list."