We tell brides all the time that the quickest way to save money is to cut down your guest list. However, we have both been brides and know that this is MUCH easier said than done. Nothing can cause a family feud faster than scratching your mother in law’s favorite cat groomer off the list. Here are some tips to keep the stress levels and dollar signs to a minimum.
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1. Work in Tiers. Like your wedding cake, your guest list has tiers. The first tier of your guests are the ones you have known forever and they will be there no matter what! These people have had your wedding date on their calender since before you got engaged. Keep everyone in this tier at the top of the list. The second grouping of guests are still very close to you, co-workers, out-of town family, etc., You definitely will invite them, but aren’t 100% sure if they will come. The last tier are what we call “courtesy invites”. These are family members you haven’t seen in ten years, your parents’ friends, old school teachers, etc. These are folks that you don’t really care if they are there (it’s not personal, it’s business), but feel like you should invite. We’ll tell you what to do with these people in tip #2.
2. Do the Wave. I have worked for a wedding stationary store and the best tip that I picked up from being there is to send your invitations out in waves. The first wave of invites are the guests in tiers 1 & 2. Give these people an early RSVP date and see where you are after you have your final count. If you still have some spots available, send out your second wave. This is tier 3 of your list. Now, here’s the trick so that no-one knows they were on the “B” list, change the RSVP date! This way, there aren’t any hurt feelings and you don’t have to sell your car to pay for dinner and drinks for 500 people.
3. Take Control. There’s another great tip that I learned while working in paper, to remember that it’s your day! What does that mean? It means that the only people that should be in attendance are the ones that you want to share this special occasion with. Do not underestimate people, we have heard so many stories of guests bringing herds of extra “friends” with them unannounced. “Oh it’s just my boyfriend’s sister in from out of town and her seven kids, they won’t mind if just a few more come.” Yes, we do mind! The best way I know to avoid this is to nicely remind them that seats are limited by putting this phrase on the RSVP card: “We have reserved 2 seats in your honor.” Of course you can put 1 seat, 3 seats, etc. The point is to let them know that you are keeping watch on your guest list and there is no wiggle room. Now, guests don’t always like being told this, so be prepared to have your maid-of-honor or wedding planner on stand-by to call and nicely tell Aunt Marge that we’re so sorry, but we (or the venue) just can’t accommodate her favorite yorkie.
Creating your guest list is one of the hardest steps of planning your wedding. Keep calm, stick to these steps, and prepare for some slight aftermath. Just always remember that this day is about no-one except the two of you and the loved ones that support you! Good luck!