If you already have a venue in mind, check with them about capacity. If it’s a destination wedding, you might also need to consider accommodations. Think about the sort of wedding you want – is it a big blowout with hundreds of people, a medium sized bash, or an intimate affair with just your nearest and dearest?
Private/Destination – with immediate family and a few of your closest friends, under 50.
Intimate – a small affair with around 50-75.
Bash – average with around 150.
Blowout – a large event with 200+
Many of the costs for a wedding are determined by the head, so figure out how many “heads” you can afford.
Flowers & Decor 8-18%
Stationery/Paper Goods 3-8%
Create Some Rules
This is where you need to firm up the following:
- Will you have children at the wedding? Yes, include all children, only children over a certain age or just those in the wedding party?
- Who gets to invite plus ones? I’d recommend including partners where the couple is married, engaged or in an otherwise long-term relationship, but depending on your age and your friends’ circumstances, you might set a different rule.
- Are exes invited? The etiquette is generally: hell no, but of course you may have a drama-free relationship with an ex, especially if children are involved. I’d advise giving your bride or groom-to-be a veto here; basically, if they’re uncomfortable, don’t invite them.
BE CONSISTENT. Whatever your rules are, there is a lot less room for hurt feelings if you apply them across the board.
Write down everyone you can possibly think of that you might want at your wedding, if numbers and budget weren’t an issue. Go through your contacts, think back to the friends you have from different times in your life, include colleagues and distant relatives. This will ensuring that you don’t forget anyone. Later, if you suddenly start wavering over an acquaintance, go back and consult this list. If someone wasn’t on it, they definitely shouldn’t make the final cut.
Divide & Prioritize
Both you and your fiancé will want to invite important family and friends. On top of that both sets of parents will have their ideas on who should be invited. One way to fairly decide would be to divide the list up. Start by dividing the list into groups: immediate family, extended family, close friends, co-workers. Then, place each group in order of priority. For example, it may be more important to you to invite close friends than extended family.
Once your priorities are established and you have set some rules, divide the guest count among each family/group. For example,
1/3 bride guests | 1/3 groom guests | 1/3 mutual friends
1/4 bride guests | 1/4 groom guests | 1/4 bride’s parents’ guests | 1/4 groom’s parents’
1/2 bride & groom guests | 1/4 bride’s parents’ guests | 1/4 groom’s parents’ guests
Making the Cut
You may be able to eliminate whole categories (for example, if you make a blanket rule of ‘no coworkers’, that’s a whole group cut, and they’re sure to understand if you say you’re keeping it to friends and family only). If not, remember your group priorities.
Then when it comes to the crunch on individuals, ask yourself:
Have I spent time with them in the last year?
For coworkers, have you ever spent time together outside of work?
Has your fiancé ever met this person?
Would or did this person invite you to their own wedding?
Would your wedding be the same without them?
Are they likely to be in your lives going forward?