You've made a list, and checked it twice. But while you may think creating a final count is as simple as decided who you want at your wedding, hitting the right number on your guest list is a tad more complex.
"Chances are, you'd like everyone you know to share in such an important moment in your life, but you'll need to draw the line somewhere," says Amy Kaneko, owner of Amy Kaneko Events. "Add in multiple opinions — your fiancé, both of your families, and more — and it can get complicated very quickly."
Don't stop when you've come to a consensus on who should make the final cut. You've got more work to do! "After you write down a wish list of everyone you'd like at your wedding, the next thing to consider is the budget," advises Kaneko. "Guest count and budget invariably go hand in hand — not just for big-ticket items like catering, but all those smaller items that add up such as stationery, flowers, and even things you'd never think of."
Next, you'll have to think in terms of your venue. "And not just what's advertised as the capacity, but what genuinely feels comfortable in the space and allows for a natural flow," Kaneko says. "Some venues may say they can hold 200 guests, but when you see how they're actually using the space it becomes very clear that you really should only have 100 guests." If you're concerned you can't actually cram your final count into that ballroom, ask "the venue manager before booking what the venue's 'sweet spot' is," she suggests. "You can also ask to see pictures and floor plans of past weddings that had a similar guest count if it's difficult for you to visualize."
Finally, if you need to trim to hit that perfect number, consider this strategy: "Analyze your relationship with each guest. Are your guests people that you and your fiancé know very well, or are your families inviting many people who you've never met?" Kaneko says. "If your guest count has many kids and you're not thrilled with that, then you can consider making the wedding adult-only."