Budgeting 101: It Starts with the Guest List

Budgeting 101: It Starts with the Guest List

By Shilora Jean

Someone once said to me, “Our budget is $0 and we’re hoping to go down from there.”

Budget. We all hate the word. While everything else is happy and fun and carefree and full of happily ever after, along comes the word ‘budget’ and it seems to take the air out of the room. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes a budget is set very simply–a couple knows that there is very little to spend. Other times, there may be plenty of money and lots of debate over how to spend it. Both situations bring a unique set of problems and politics.

But for those who are trying to control the wedding budget, here’s the key:
It starts with the guest list.

Yep. That’s right. The guest list is the starting point for estimating costs. The reason why the guest list is so important is because of the way it multiplies your wedding expenses. You’ll buy one dress but you’ll pay for every bite of food your guests eat and every sip they drink. Same with wedding favors, and of course the most obvious: invitations. (We’ll blog more on that later) 

How to create a solid guest list? Easy. With a list of people you feel must be at your wedding, as in, you simply cannot get married without them. Mom, Dad, Grandparents, siblings and besties. That’s phase one and for most, it’s probably very easy. (Don’t forget the Plus-1s!) Phase two is comprised of close friends and family. Phase three is extended friends & family and co-workers–if you are planning on inviting anyone from work. By this point, your list should be very comprehensive. 

(Please note: parents often have people they want to invite to their children’s wedding. Ask your parents to place their guests into one of the three categories above. It shows you’re doing due diligence on your guest list and may help them determine how their guests fit into your plans.)

There are rules of thumb you can find online for determining how many of your guests will show, but truly, you know your guests better than a statistician does. If your budget is tight, don’t kid yourself by falsely creating a low ‘yes’ number just to avoid the reality that you need to cut your guest list. You’ll only set yourself up for a lot of stress, anxiety and possible disappointment if you aren’t honest with yourself early on. Explain that you are trying to control expenses; your guests will understand. After all, many people are aware that weddings are expensive.

Until you have a grasp on your guest list, you’re not ready for step 2: gathering estimates.

Once you have an estimated guest count, you’re ready to begin phase two: seeking a venue and gathering estimates. I’ll be honest with you: phase two is work. But if you take the time to get real numbers, you’ll be far closer to having a real idea of cost.

Remember, this is your day and it’s going to be great! We’re here for you.

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