Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Planning Tips | Keeping Tabs on the Guest List

There are numerous reasons to keep the guest list in-check - budget, size of your venue, and personal preference on how large you want your celebration to be, to name just a few. It seems there are always more people that could be added to your guest list, however, there is no easy way to "cut" guests.

A reader recently sent in the following question. I wanted to share my reply, as I know many couples struggle with this aspect of their wedding planning. Please note that this is my personal response and I realize not every wedding planner will agree with me!

We are getting married in 3 months and have had to cut our guest list because of my job loss. We started with about 300 guests because I have a huge family, and have about 30 out of town guests that are flying in, however I don't think all will be attending. We are trying to get down to about 150 for dinner - which is no easy task! My fiance's family & friend list is about 90 people.

We have narrowed it down to about 200 people, so do we invite all 200 to the dinner, and hope that about 50 people won't be able to attend? I have heard about having a second round of dinner invites going out after some responses come in, but am not sure how this works. I would GREATLY appreciate any ideas you have.

Thanks so much, Tera


Many websites, reception venues, and other wedding professionals will tell you a certain percentage will not attend, however I've worked with enough brides to tell you that there is no exact science to the number of people who will RSVP yes.

If you can host 150 guests for dinner, my personal advice is to invite 150 guests. That way, you will not be stressed out trying to accommodate 175 guests in a ballroom that only holds 150. Of course, you can plan ahead. If you know that some guests will definitely not attend (a home bound grandparent, an international friend who cannot get time off of work, a sibling serving in the military, etc.) you can send them an invite, but not count them toward your final headcount from the very beginning.

As far as two sets of invitations, it is possible to do this once you start receiving RSVP's from the first set, however it can be tricky due to the fact you need to put your final count into the caterers (usually two weeks prior) and could result in two different printing of the RSVP card based on when you send out the first round.

For example, you are getting married December 30th and send 100 invitations out on November 15th with an RSVP date of December 1st. You get 30 no's back right away, so you send 15 more invitations out with the RSVP date of December 15th, but need to tell your caterer your final count on December 16th. You will be cutting it close to get all the responses in time, but it is possible!

My number one piece of guest list advice is to make sure you are inviting people who are important to you. Including high school friends you haven't talked to in six years, or coworkers who aren't really friends is easy to do. Someone once told me that if you would have the person over for dinner at your home, they qualify as close enough friends for a wedding invite.

[photos copyright Amy Carroll Photography from the wedding of Jammie & Aaron]

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