Wedding planner Jessica Carrillo from Art and Soul Events has planned a LOT of weddings, now she's giving away her insider info on how to attack your guest list like a pro.
As a wedding planner, I know that one of the main challenges our clients tackle is narrowing down their guest list. Coming from a huge family, I can totally relate — I struggled with a massive guest list when planning my own wedding.
As a general rule of the thumb, the more guests invited, the more expensive the wedding will be. You will have more people to feed, more drinks to pay for, more tables to decorate, more favors to buy, and the list goes on.
You might also be required to cap the guest list due to venue capacity restrictions, which means you can't invite everyone you originally hoped you could.
Getting started, you can just draft a rough list of all of the people you want to share your awesome celebration with (and ask your partner to do the same). List close family, extended family, friends from way back, new friends, maybe a co-worker or two, and even the few obligatory peeps your parents or “financial contributors” might ask/demand that you invite. After some back and forth (and a glass of wine or a beer), you and your partner will hopefully agree to some mutual vetoes.
Are you still over your guest capacity?
Keep in mind that about 80% of the total guests invited will usually attend. It is not a fool-proof formula, because this number will vary depending on the time of year, day of the week, location of the wedding, or if it's a holiday weekend.
Here's a few more tips to quickly reduce the guest list:
1. Have an adults-only wedding
I made three exceptions to that rule: my nieces were flower girls and my nephew was the ring bearer; we allowed nursing babies; and we offered the bridal party the option of bringing their children. We made sure to explain this policy up front in our emailed save the date. When we mailed the invitation, we wrote #__ of seats reserved on the inner flap of the envelope to remind those that may have forgotten.
2. Remove guilt from the equation
We realized quickly that 10-15 people on the list were people we felt we somehow owed an invitation. If you haven't kept in touch with someone for years and they are not significant to you or your partner now, maybe you should just scratch them off of the list.
3. Be selective about your +1 allowance
We made these cuts/allowances on a case-by-case basis. If one of our recently-coupled friends or family members was traveling a significant distance and didn't know many of the guests, then we offered a +1. If they knew many of our guests and we did not really know their new fling, then we did not extend the +1 invitation.
4. Send out invitations in multiple rounds
I sent my invitations out three months before the wedding, with an online RSVP function, and in three staggered rounds.
- The first round had all of the “musts” as far as my husband and I were concerned. We gave them a month to RSVP before harassing them for a response.
- Once we knew who could not make it from the “must” list, we sent another round of about 10-15 more guests that we really wanted to have, which was about two months before the wedding (we gave them a few weeks to RSVP).
- Based on round two responses, we sent the third and final round of invites (mostly our parents' friends) about six weeks before the wedding. This allowed us to invite about 20-25 more people than we originally thought we could!
If all else fails and the list is still too long, you can always elope!
What were your best methods of attack when it came to the guest list?
coordinators: Art and Soul Events