I’m guessing you’re reading this because you are planning a wedding! Many Brides think about their wedding dress, the venues they want to check out and sometimes even how many people they’d like to invite to their wedding first and these are all very important aspects in planning your wedding. However, your actual guest list plays a very important role in planning your wedding, especially if you are on a budget.
When discussing “wedding planning” with brides here at work, I’m reminded of a book I read many years ago titled, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. The first two habits wrote about are, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. These two habits can play a big role in having the best wedding possible while laying out in your mind reasonable expectations within your budget and the climate/location of where you are going to hold your wedding.
What does the first habit, begin with the end in mind, have to do with your guests list? How many guests you actually send out invitations too will affect your budget. I’m not referring to a general idea, a number off the top of your head so to speak, but an actual list. Feeding 50 guests cake, dinner, providing champagne, giving out party favors, etc. cost a lot less than 200, 300 or 400. There is no getting around that truth. Without writing down your guest list, you may rent a venue based on price or some grand feature that appeals to you and it not be big enough or you might rent a place for more money and end up not needing it. So, if staying on a budget is a factor in your wedding planning, beginning with the end in mind requires you to ask yourself some important questions, beginning with who makes the guest list. As you fine tune your guest list, a better picture of your special day, based on your budget, will become clearer.
How do you begin a guest list that will help you make decisions that you will be happy with? Let’s beginning with the two most important people on your list. The Bride and Groom. Do you count the Bride and Groom? Yes, as both will be eating cake, dinner, needing chairs to sit upon etc. Next, write down the names of your family and closest friends, including the wedding party that will be attending. Are the children of your guests invited? If so, remember to count them. If they need a chair to sit upon, you will need to count them. Now that you have this part of your list completed, total the number of guests. Next begin to add to this list everyone that you both would really like to invite but aren’t your closest of family and friends. Now, total your list of all your guests. Now finish your list by writing down the names of guest that you’d like to invite if your budget allowed or if money wasn’t something you had to consider. Now do a final total.
You now have three different guest lists within your one complete list to work with. Moving on to the 2nd habit that I referred to earlier, it’s time to put first things first! Let’s consider the people on the first part of your list as the “first” thing. Without the guests on the first part of your list, you have no one really special to share all the things you want to experience on your wedding day. Are there elderly people that mean the world to you and you want them there? Consider their comfort and ability to participate in the venues you are considering. Extreme heat and cold might be too much for them as well as having to walk too far into a park, etc. Do you need a venue that can accommodate people that are handicapped? After considering the needs of your closest of family and friends, it’s time to think about what things are most important to you on your wedding day. You might begin to write down the things that come first to your mind. Is the venue important? What services, items, etc. do you want the venue to provide? The wedding dress and tux is definitely on the list! Does having the funds for the wedding attire for the wedding party need to be added or will they be suppling their own attire? Is having help with your wedding such as a wedding planner, or a venue that does all the set up and clean up important? Maybe you are more of the DIY type that enjoys planning things down to the tables, chairs and linens is your thing, so renting a venue that only offers the space might work for you. If you have to choose between a good meal for your guests, a limo or fresh flowers, which is more important to you? How important are pictures to you? If pictures are of great important to you, you need to allow a budget for a professional photographer. Someone who has gone to school and studied lighting, has the professional equipment and relies on producing quality work in a reasonable amount of time as their primary source of income will produce a different product than a friend with a good camera. How big of a role will music be? Does having an in house dj provided in a wedding package at a venue meet your need or is having a DJ that all your guests know rank as important?
This is your day and if you are on a budget, putting first things first will secure funds for the things you want most. Most of us don’t get everything we want, so applying the “first things first” rule helps us accomplish more of what we want. For example, maybe having a nice sit-down meal with your closest family and friends is very dear to you but your budget doesn’t allow for having this kind of dinner for all the guests on your total list. It’s okay to limit your guest list to the first or second group of guest you listed and have the sit-down meal that you’ve always pictured that is within your budget. Maybe you and your soon to be spouse are really out going people and you think a large gathering of people at your wedding will give you the feel and atmosphere that you’ve always wanted. Shopping a venue that will hold your complete guest list and make the choice to serve a light, inexpensive meal to use your funds for your favorite DJ would be a good option for you. Once people begin to pen their thoughts, then read them, clarity of who and what is most important will begin to stand out. Knowing the number of guests, you are actually going to be able to invite to stay within your budget and making your purchases from there will give you peace of mind moving forward.
Happy Wedding Planning!