When you’re building your wedding checklist, one of the first things you’ll need to do is figure out your guest list. There are two reasons that your wedding guest list is a priority. The first is that you need to send out your save-the-date cards at least six months in advance to give everyone plenty of time to prepare. The second is that the size of your guest list will be important through the rest of the process as you set up your wedding. Consider the following factors to make the process of creating that all-important guest list easier.

Let’s face it – the size of your guest list has a significant effect on how much your wedding is going to cost, and with you and your groom’s friends, family and distant relatives to consider, that wedding guest list can get very big, very fast. By deciding how many guests you can afford from the beginning, you’ll have an easier time prioritizing.

The simplest way to do this is calculating your price per guest, which is how much each guest will cost you. You can then divide the guest portion of your budget by your price per guest to find out how many guests you can afford.

Let’s say that for food, drinks and seating, you’re looking at $50 per guest. You’ve allocated $10,000 in your budget for guests. Since 10,000 divided by 50 is 200, that’s the number of guests you can afford to invite to your wedding. If you want to invite more, you’ll need to up the budget or trim down your price per guest.

So, you’ve decided how many guests you can invite. Now, you can start on the actual list.

The first thing you should do is talk to your groom about those close friends and family members who you simply must invite. This is the time to focus on the most important relationships in your life, those people who you can’t imagine your wedding without.

Make sure you get your groom’s input here and don’t assume you know everyone he considers a close friend or family member. He may have people who he doesn’t see often, but are still a very important part of his life.

After you have your essential guests listed, you and your groom can list out other friends and acquaintances separately. Those will be the people you’ll invite if you can.

You’ll want to meet with both sets of parents and get their input on who you should invite. They can help you fill in the gaps and invite anyone you may have forgotten, such as more distant family members and friends that you don’t know as well.

Remember This Is Your Wedding, Not Your Parents’

Although you should ask both sets of parents who to invite, keep in mind that you’re only asking them for advice. If they give you name after name of people you barely know who are going to stretch your budget too far, it’s fine to explain that you can’t invite everyone.

Now, if one or both sets of parents are funding your wedding, then you can give them more leeway regarding the guest list. Still, the priority is making sure that you invite the people you and your groom want at the wedding.

When you’re building your wedding checklist, making the guest list typically occurs during the same period of time as reserving your venue. If you already have a venue in mind, then you’ll need to make sure that your guest list won’t exceed the capacity there. If you haven’t chosen a venue yet, then you can shop around for one that has enough space for all your guests.

When you’re going over your wedding guest list with your groom, take out anyone the two of you have never heard of. After all, if someone is practically a stranger to both of you, would you really want them at your wedding?

If you have plenty of space on your guest list, then you can accommodate those very distant relatives or friends your parents mention. But most of the time, choosing the guest list is hard enough, and you need to make cuts where you can. People you don’t know should be the first to go.

Forgetting to invite someone to your wedding can lead to some major hurt feelings, but it happens, especially with how stressful wedding planning can be. You can avoid it entirely by doing a thorough review.

As you go through your list, think about your childhood friends, work colleagues, college buddies and all the other groups of people you know. If you use social media, pull up your accounts and check your friends lists. It’s worth taking the extra time now so you don’t have an awkward situation later.

If there are people who you just don’t want at your wedding, don’t feel obligated to invite them. It may sound cold, but the reality is that your wedding is about you. Just because you know someone or used to be friends with them doesn’t mean that they need to attend your wedding, especially if they’ve been rude to you or make you uncomfortable.

Yes, you may be tired of going over your guest list by now, but you’ll need to do it one more time and then finalize it before you send the invites. You already took off the people who you don’t want to invite and double-checked to make sure you didn’t forget anyone, so now, all you need to do is confirm a couple things.

You’ll obviously want to verify that you’re at or under your guest limit so your wedding stays within your budget. If not, you may need to make some difficult cuts to get there, or spend more than you originally wanted. Besides that, make sure that you have all your guests’ names spelled correctly and that you have the right addresses for them.

Sending your wedding invitations out on time is a good idea even if all your guests live nearby, but it’s especially important when guests will be traveling to your wedding from out of town. They’ll need to book their flights and hotel rooms in advance. If they can’t do that until the last minute because you took too long with your invitations, you’ll inconvenience them and it could even result in them not coming.

Try to have your save-the-date cards out at least six months before the wedding, and the invitations themselves out at least six to eight weeks before the wedding. You should also set up a wedding website by the time you send out your save-the-date cards. On the website, you can include information about making travel arrangements to help your guests.

It’s a fact of life that not everyone you invite to your wedding is going to come. People may have other professional or familial commitments. This gives you some flexibility to make your guest list a little bit larger.

Although you can’t predict how many of your invited guests will attend, it’s usually about 80 percent. That means if you have a limit of 100 guests, you could invite 125. You’ll know how many people are actually going to show up when your guest RSVP, and most couples set that deadline for three weeks prior to the wedding.

Now, be careful about inviting too many extra people on the assumption that some won’t show up, at least if you have a strict limit. Make sure you’ll be able to accommodate extra people if you end up with more than you originally planned on.

Like many parts of the wedding planning process, setting up the guest list takes more time and effort than you may have expected. You need to talk to your spouse about it, both sets of parents, and then go over it multiple times to see that you’re inviting the right people. And that’s all while making sure you don’t go over budget. When you follow the right process, building that guest list will go much more smoothly.

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