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Jackie’s Top Tips: Guest List

February 26, 2010

One of the most hair-pulling parts of planning a wedding is the guest list.  Oftentimes, couples and their parents have different ideas on the number of invitees. The bride may have a larger family than the groom or visa versa. lots of factors go into determining the guest list, but most of the time it comes down to budget and who is footing the bill. Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dry equation.

To start, I suggest the bride, groom, and their respective parents each make a list of “must-invite” guests- or everyone they would invite in a perfect world. Initially, I suggest keeping  each list seperate, but add up the total number of guests and use this as your baseline for where to start your planning.  Put your lists  in alphabetical order from the start to make your life easier down the road.  Use excel so you can merge the lists and add columns to keep you organized as you move through the planning process.

Next, put the lists aside, and do some research. Figure out what kind of wedding you want- Do you want it to be at a fabulous off site venue like a museum or do you have your heart set on the Four Seasons ball room?  The venue has a big impact on the guest count because of capacity limitations and often food and beverage minimums required to book the space.  Also, if you find a Vera Wang dress you just HAVE  to have, and the flowers you fall in love with are $5,000 just for the ceremony then you may need to make some concessions.  Your budget may not have room for both Vera AND the Four Seasons.

Once you have more of the details (and their costs) hammered out, re-visit your guest list.  If your guest grand total is 500 people, and you only have $10,000 left in your budget, then you’ll either be feeding your guests at McDonald’s or cutting down on the number of people you invite.

Most likely, you’ll be cutting down on y0ur invitees.  Have each person trim their list, but remember, whoever is footing the bill will likely have more control over the guest list.  If the wedding is being paid for by you and your groom, then feel free to keep your old sorority sisters or your man’s co-workers.  However, if one family is paying for the affair, know that they may want to-and should be allowed to-keep more of their own guests.

Once your list is finalized-stick to it.  We’ll talk more about “B” lists and save the dates later.  In the meantime, feel free to send me any burning questions you have on guest list etiquette-or any other wedding-planning issues to

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