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Susan Ties the Knot: Part IX

Creating a Guest List: Easier Said than Done!

Throughout the whole planning process, the guest list has proven to be the most difficult part for us. This task is one thing that I don’t actually deal with in my job. I had always thought it was a matter-of-fact kind of issue, but now that I’m in it, I see how complicated it can be! There are so many questions: Who do we invite? How do we get all of the addresses? What are our parents’ expectations for adding to the list (this one is important to ask if they are funding the day)?

Here’s my advice: just accept that you’re going to feel guilty about something somewhere, and it might be hard to swallow, but it’s inevitable. The bottom line is that this day is about you and your fiance. Anyone else, anything else is secondary. I know. Easier said than done!

So, you need to start with a number. Yours will be based primarily on budget, venue size, and service style. For example, a cocktail reception can usually allow for a larger guest list than a plated dinner could because you don’t have to guarantee everyone a seat at a table.

Since most of our guests are out-of-towners, we had to factor in a large number of no-shows or no-RSVPs list. A lot of the wedding couples I work with wonder about how to factor in people not coming, and unfortunately, it’s always a true guestimate and can be hard to plan around.

I can say that the standard for guestimating is that 15-20% will RSVP “no” and then there is always the chance that a few people won’t make it even if they planned to. The good news is that, in my experience planning weddings, I’ve found that the number usually kind of evens itself out. So, don’t let the unpredictable stress you out too much.

(photo by Shalese Danielle Photography)

A few quick tips that might make your life easier once you have your list:
  1. The Knot and WeddingWire are great resources, complete with a party planning guide

  2. Hiring an event planner could help a lot in figuring out a good estimate on number of guests

  3. Microsoft Excel comes with an attendance sheet, which can take a lot of the brain power out of keeping track of RSVP’s

Oh! And don’t forget about the children! When you’re considering whether or not to invite families to bring kids, you’ll want to check with the venue to see how they do pricing -- will you have to count an infant, who won’t be eating? Whatever you decide it is best to be clear with your invitees about whether or not your event will be a family affair or an adults’ night away. Either way can be a lot of fun, but the two options can potentially change your guest count by more than you might expect.

Tags: wedding wedding planning richmond wedding rva wedding venue guest list wedding invitations

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