How Many People Should You Invite to Your Wedding
Guest lists are an incredible source of tension and anxiety for most brides so we asked our resident guy writer, Matt, to take a crack at it! What do you think of his no-nonsense methods?
When taken to extremes, making a guest list can ruin the months leading up to your wedding. Between close family, colleagues, high school pals, and that weird uncle you haven't seen since Christmas 1996, the list can get really long really fast.
You can curb some anxiety (not to mention all out brawls) by deciding how many people you want to invite. That way, you can focus on keeping your list realistic instead of letting things get out of control.
Set a Budget for Your Wedding and Reception
Start with the big question: how many people can you afford to host? If you plan to serve dinner and drinks, then you can easily expect to spend $100 or so on each person. That might sound outrageous to some couples, but expenses add up quickly when you consider the price of renting chairs, tablecloths, silverware, and dishes, not to mention hiring waiters for evening.
You can, of course, cut the per-person cost by limiting food and drink options. Maybe you don't need to send everyone home liquored up and stuffed with steak. Regardless of what you put on the menu, you need to start with your budget and work your way backwards.
Meet With Your Caterer
If you have already chosen a caterer, arrange a meeting so you can talk about how much the wedding will cost. The caterer should have a good idea of how much the average person eats and drinks at an event, so you can typically trust their quotes.
Having the catering quote makes it pretty easy to decide how many people can attend the wedding. Just multiply the number of people by the amount of money each one will cost. If you go over budget, start removing guests from your list. (Do your second cousins really need to come? Seriously, when's the last time you even talked to your college roommate?)
If you're under, count yourself lucky and take an extra vacation day on your honeymoon.
Send Out Invitations in Rounds
You want to invite slightly more people than you want to attend your wedding. After all, not everyone is going to make it, especially out-of-town guests who have to spend a lot of time and money to visit. It's hard to say how many of your invitations will come back with positive RSVPs, but it's usually between 80 and 90 percent.
It's a good idea to send out invitations in rounds. Send the first round to the most important people on your list. When they come back, you'll know how many seats you have leftover for secondary guests. That way, you get to invite as many people as possible without going over your budget.
Tip for bonus presents: some people will send you gifts even though they can't make it to the wedding. Know an out-of-town relative with too much money and not enough time to visit? Send that person an invitation during the first round. If they make it, that's great. Even if they don't, you might get a gift just for asking.
Posted by Matt T.