This is a dilemma that many couples face when planning and budgeting for their wedding. In my experience as a Colorado wedding planner, the number of wedding guests drive everything for your wedding. It affects the size of venue, food and beverage, invitations, cake, staffing, rentals and more.
Many couples do an estimation of the number of guests that they will be inviting, that they use to determine their choices. But is that a good number?
Let me tell you a quick story. I had a great couple who found their favorite venue that was affordable since he was an alumnus of the university which gave them a great discount. The venue was the right size for their initial guest count of 140. When we got the estimation for the meals for 140, it caused the bride to get panicked about the cost of their wedding, which they were paying much of the cost.
She was having a hard time trying to get things done for the wedding. I asked her what was going on and she told me that she could not justify spending so much money. She wanted to cut her guest list down to those who that they wanted to party with and not worry about inviting guests that they would not have time to party with or enjoy. I told her to cut the list down to who they wanted at their wedding and not be stressed. They went from 140 to 78 guests. On their wedding day, we had 76 guests attend, 1 guest was on bedrest with her first child and another was sick. They had a fabulous time celebrating with those 76 special guests who cared and loved them.
It is important to remember that your wedding celebration should be with family and friends that you want to celebrate with. With weddings, people get caught up in “inviting everyone and anyone” mode. You need to realize that every guest is a cost to you. The average cost is $150/guest. I know it is ugly to think about the cost of each guest but it is the reality of a wedding.
Take the time when you are gathering guest names and addresses to discuss each guest. It is best to make a list of those who you want at your wedding, and a second list of those who you would enjoy celebrating your special day with you. A third list of guests that you would be happy that they came to your wedding. The counts from the first and second list should be your base guest count. The third list is your choice if you want to spend the money to have them attend. When you need to cut costs on your wedding, it is the guests on this list that you will want to cut. There is no harm in not inviting “everyone and anyone” to your special day.
It is more trendy now to have a smaller guest count for a more intimate feel in your wedding. It also allows you to splurge on items that you want. Remember, it is your wedding and it should be celebrated with those who you want to celebrate with. Also, don’t worry about that third list, they would not have made your day any more special than those who you did want.