Friday, May 13, 2011

Taming the Biggest Wedding Beast Yet: The Guest List!

This post is long overdue, and I know it's not going to be a revelation to anyone when I say it: Keep your guest list in check! It's been a rocky road for me & my fiance - and in fact, is one of the few moments in the whole process where I became a bridezilla. I wanted a wedding of 75-100 people (and closer to the 75 end than 100). I'm not getting it. It happened with the best intentions, but still brought me several ulcer-inducing moments. Believe me, sticking to your guns when it comes to your guest list is easier said than done, I know. So here are a few helpful tips I wish I had had in my back pocket for you brides-to-be out there:

1) Make a budget and stick to it! Whether you have a target number of people in mind first or a specific venue your hearts are set on, the first order of business you & your new fiance should address is making a wedding budget. The interwebs is a great place to do research, and many blogs I've talked about in other posts have forums where real brides all over post budgets or estimates for various services that can help you plan. Be realistic about what you can save and what your parents may or may not contribute. It may also be helpful to prioritize and have a wish list, in the event that you have some funds freed up and want to add on, or you choose to spend more on one thing you know where you can cut back on something else. Once you've decided how much you want to spend, do not go over. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. No matter how much your parents may want that ice sculpture. And if they want to give you money for that specifically if it's that important to them, fine. But we'll discuss that more in #2.

2) Know your limits. Have a serious conversation with your fiance about what's really important to you, and how you're going to pay for it. If either set of parents wants to contribute, make sure you and your fiance are clear about what that means. If you are ok with them participating or having a say in your decisions *because* they are contributing something, say so. Or if you prefer their contributions go to specific things (flowers, cake, transport, etc.) be very clear about that. Or, if you suspect that you may be bullied by the parental dollar, insist on paying for everything yourselves. It may mean you'll have a leaner wedding or something a little less extravagant than you imagined, but hey, you'll have the wedding you really truly wanted. And you can tell your parents to contribute to your honeymoon :)

3) Insist on priorities. If the parents have a set number of people they want to invite that you & your fiance deem reasonable, that's great. It can stop there. In most cases though, the sad truth is that your parents probably see your wedding as a way to show off their awesomeness to the whole dang world. I can't blame them for that. Translation: they will want to invite the far reaches of your family, their friends, their frenemies, their co-workers, their postal worker, you name it. Insist on having an A, B and even C list. The reality is that for whatever reason, not everyone on your A list is going to be able to make it. So if having as many people as possible at your wedding means a lot to you & your respective families, having backups are great. Not to mention that you have clear direction come RSVP time, and everyone is happy.

4) Set up artificial boundaries. If you want a target of 80 people to attend your wedding, you could choose a venue with a max of 85-90. Or, if you are dealing with a BYO-type place that you love, cost might also be a great deterrent. Say you want to have your wedding at a historic location that only allows tented receptions, which means you have to rent e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. This may bring your per person cost to, say, $250/person and you've decided that's awesome because it means you can only realistically invite 50 people. That way, you can blame it on "circumstances beyond your control." It may not always work, but it's something to think about.

I hope this is helpful. Your guest list affects almost everything else in your budget, and 10 extra people that you didn't anticipate or 10 people that don't show up can be equally nerve-wracking and stress-inducing. Save yourself a headache (or ulcer) and take hold of your guest list by the horns and be the boss of it. You'll be happy that you did!

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