The guest list is one of the first things you need to work on– even before setting your date-because you need a rough head count when planning the location of the wedding/reception. Some of the most charming locations cannot accommodate more than 150 people.
Any book outlining dream weddings on a budget will invariably counsel the reader to limit the guest list. Quite
simply, the best place to cut wedding costs is to cut the number of people attending. By having a small,
intimate affair you can afford to spend considerably more on flowers, food, and other details. For example,
if your heart is set on a reception at a fancy restaurant or a five-star hotel, the price per person can be astronomical! Nevertheless, it may still be attainable if the guest list is cut dramatically. (Catering a meal to 25 people might prove affordable while 250 would be an impossibility. You could always have an open house for the ward later.) However, if keeping it small is not an option, there are still ways to stretch your dollar to the utmost. (Be sure to keep reading throughout this book for tips on achieving your dream wedding on any budget!)
Compiling the Guest List: His, Hers… and Theirs?
Immediately begin compiling your guest list. You may find it helpful to separate your list into “must be there”-s, “would like them there”-s, and “probably should invite”-s. Also get your parent’s invite lists right away—you’ll be shocked how many people your mother plans to invite! While ultimately this is your wedding and you can invite whomever you want, try to respect your family’s wishes- this is an important event for them too! Unless you are restricting the list to a very small number of only the most intimate family and friends, do not haggle with your families about those they wish to attend… especially if they are helping to pay for the festivities.
Who will actually attend?
About half the people you invite will come. If you send out 100 invitations that is the equivalent of at least 200
people because each invitation represents a couple… and then you have to count kids. So, your first guest
estimate would be for 100 people – the out of town (and particularly, the out of state) people won’t come unless
they are very close friends. If you need a closer count, go over each name individually with your mom and decide
who you think will actually attend (be sure to include kids). Make your notes in pencil down the left side of the
column and put them in ink on the right side of the column once the responses arrive.
The internet has several excellent wedding planning sites. You can use their “guest list tools” to keep track of
your RSVP’s, gifts and thank you notes or you can make up your own list.
Sticky Situations: What to do when someone is NOT on the guest list
You may want to invite your whole ward to your wedding, but that is not always possible. If you are financially unable
to invite the entire ward (or your dream reception venue cannot accommodate them all), you may choose to invite only
one-third of the ward or less. (The more people who are not invited, the less likely you are to hurt people’s feelings:
For example, you are far more likely to hurt your former Sunbeam teacher if you invited seventy percent of the ward
and left her off the list than if only a handful of ward members were invited. However you choose to compile your list,
when inviting a large number of people from one given environment (whether it be your ward, your neighborhood, or a
service group or book club you attend), be sensitive to the few you are omitting. While it is your big day, you don't
want to incur hard feelings or damaged relationships at such a joyous time.