5. Keep your guest list in check right from the very start
From writing out your guest list to tallying up your RSVP’s – the number of guests is crucial to keeping your budget from skyrocketing. On the average, a reception costs 1/3 to 1/2 of the total budget. So if your guest list takes on a life of its own and starts growing uncontrollably, guess what else will start growing? Unfortunately, this list can grow very easily – the “forgotten” invitee, the reciprocal invitation, the person you will meet between now and your wedding day, the “and guests.”
Your master guest list will be determined by combining the lists provided by your parents, his parents, you and your fiancé. Before anyone writes down a single name, determine how many people everyone can include on their list – and stick to that number. If someone goes over this number explain that they must trim their list by either making an A & B list, removing the name altogether, or, if your reception hall has the space, they need to pay the difference. But remember that the difference is more than just the cost of an extra meal. It is also the extra beverages, hors d’oeuvres, favors, chairs, napkins, plates, forks . . . Add up just a few “extra people” and you also have to add in the extra table, extra table cloth, and extra centerpiece.
When trimming the list, keep it fair, which will lessen the chance of hurt feelings. Make cuts even across the board, such as don’t invite relatives further than first cousins, don’t invite children under the age of 13, don’t invite anyone you haven’t actually spoken to or kept close contact with in the last year, and don’t invite the “and guest.”
On the rare occasion, you may get an RSVP indicating more people will be attending than you invited. Now you’ve got two choices. Either ignore it and add a few more to your list (and your pocketbook) or contact the wayward guest, and kindly but firmly let them know that you are sorry but you cannot accommodate any additional people. Give them a reason why, but make sure the reason appears to be something you cannot alter, (ex. we’re already to the limit of our budget, or the room just won’t hold any more people).