Your wedding is possibly the most important day of your life — and who attends your wedding is a big decision.
Most people know or have close ties with 50-200 people, which means between you and your partner, there might be 75-400 people who are really important to you. In determining your guest list — and therefore the size of your wedding — you’ll want to ask yourself several questions:
1. What is your wedding vision?
You’ve probably been envisioning your wedding for some time now. Do you imagine a small intimate gathering, a medium-sized reception, or a large wedding with hundreds of people celebrating your nuptials? How you see your wedding matters a lot — if you’ve always imagined a big reception, it’s worth giving this serious consideration.
2. Are you an introvert or extrovert — and what about your partner?
Introverts tend to prefer small groups where they can connect with people individually, while extroverts tend to prefer larger group dynamics. I’m an introvert while my wife is an extrovert, so when we got married, about 1/3 were my guests while 2/3 were hers. It worked well because I had plenty of time to connect with my closest friends, while she got to dance with lots of friends and family who’d flown in from all over the world.
3. What can you afford?
Generally speaking, the larger your wedding, the more expensive. One of my favorite scenes in Father of the Bride is when Mr. Banks suggests that guests come to the ceremony but don’t eat, so he’ll save $250 a person! Many couples will cut their guest lists considerably, not because they want to, but because they need to fit their wedding within their budget.
BEFORE YOU CUT YOUR GUEST LIST, consider the actual cost of weddings as well as the cost of all-inclusive wedding packages. For example, some venues charge by the guest, but others don’t. For example, some luxury hotels will have wedding packages that cost $150-$350 per guest. However, some venues charge a flat fee no matter how many guests you have, and your only additional cost per guest will be the catering and beverage service. Catering could be as inexpensive as $40 or $50 per guest, and beverage service might be $20 per guest (or even $0 if you opt for a cash bar)! Do you really want to exclude people you love just to save $50?
4. Will wedding gifts offset the costs of your additional guests?
While you should never expect a gift, and a guest’s presence is its own present, most guests will offer a gift that will more than pay for the additional cost of adding them to your guest list.
People tend to regret what they didn’t do, not what they did do. If you really want all your friends and family to come to your wedding, you may regret not inviting all of them, especially when you receive your wedding pictures and realize that lots of important people weren’t in them.
5. Do you want to reconnect with old friends and strengthen family ties?
True, you may not see your Great Aunt very often, and there may be a couple of college friends you don’t talk to much anymore. But your wedding is a great opportunity to reconnect with them. Often, people fall out of our lives because we are too busy, not because we don’t care. A wedding is a great chance to nurture and strengthen these connections.
When it comes down to it, what do you really want — a big wedding or a small wedding? If you want a large wedding, or you don’t want to trim down your guest list, then the best bet is to find a way to fit your guests into your budget and make it happen.
At the Agora Grand Event Center, we charge a flat fee for the venue and a per-person charge for beverage service, and we’ll work with you to find an outstanding caterer who will fit your budget.
Enjoy the wedding planning process! It can be stressful at times, but it’s also an extraordinarily creative time, allowing you to piece together your wedding vision!