Hooray! You're engaged! You're about to start down a fun and exciting (and at times stressful) road of planning a wedding. Many people will offer up great advise about where to start the process ("Pick the date first!" "You have to have a venue before you can do anything!" "Determine your budget before you plan anything!") but we want to tell you the most essential step to planning your wedding: Create a guest list.
Maybe this doesn't seem like the most thrilling part of planning your wedding (we know you want to fast forward and figure out all the fun details like menus, colors and place settings) but without a basic estimate of how many people you can reasonably expect at your wedding you'll be at a stand-still for all other major decisions.
What do we mean? How disappointing would it be to fall in love with a venue that has a maximum occupancy of 100 and find out after you put a sizable deposit down on the site that you're guest count will be closer to 200? It's also virtually impossible to create an accurate and reasonable budget if you don't know whether you'll have 75 guests or 150 to wine and dine.
Here are a few tips to help make the guest list process a little easier:
- Make it a pre-wedding event. Invite parents and any other financial contributors over for dinner or brunch with their address books and a positive attitude. Although this is your day, anyone (be they parents, family or friends) who is contributing to your wedding financially should have some say in the guest list. Together, you should be able to come up with a list of everyone that you would like to be at your wedding including children and dates. This is typically your MAX HEADCOUNT and you should budget for 80-90% off that number.
- Organize that list and keep it handy. If you know you're way around an Excel spreadsheet awesome! If not, you'll want to make sure that you have an alphabetized list (or note cards like these!) with all pertinent information including names of all family members, address, email address, phone numbers and possibly a note on who they are (you don't want to mix up your mother's sister-in-law's cousin with your cousin's best friend's neighbor!).
- Create the VIP List. This is usually best done just the two of you, but it's important to know who MUST be there in order for your wedding day to feel complete. It may be just immediate family and dearest friends, but not to think about who should be invited and focus on who you MUST have there. THis is your MINIMUM HEADCOUNT and after weighing all the options with budgets and venues, this is the list that you should consider using for a more intimate and budget-friendly wedding.
If, however, you have already committed to a venue or budget and are having trouble reconciling with a growing or out of control guest list, don't stress too much! Kai Squared can work with you to create an event design, layout and flow that maximizes your available space and budget. Send us an email today to schedule an appointment.