The harsh truth is most spouses-to-be don’t have access to a limitless pot of money to pay for their dream wedding. The reality is about setting realistic budgets for all the different elements that go together to make up your wedding.
Your guest list is one of those areas that can quickly spiral out of control. Your heart is telling you that you want absolutely everyone to be present that means anything to you, but do you really want to blow your whole wedding budget on your guest? It all depends on your priorities.
Does inviting along Great Aunty May to celebrate your day mean more to you than having the extra money to spend on your wedding flowers, or that additional tier on your wedding cake?
Would you be happy to sacrifice that made-to-measure wedding gown in favour of an off-the-peg number if it means you can invite fifty more people to your wedding reception?
Here are some useful tips to help you decide:
If you let your head rule your heart, you will set your budget first, and then figure out how many guests you can comfortably invite with a per-guest cost in mind. For example, if you decide to set aside £2,000 to cover your wedding reception, and your caterers charge £20 per head for food and £10 per head for wine and drinks at the table, that means you can comfortably invite 60 guests to your reception.
You can play with the maths a little here, and you can invite a larger number of guests if you go for a more casual buffet style reception rather than a formal sit-down meal if that is more your style. You could also provide the first drink for free, then guests would need to purchase their own drinks from the bar.
If both you and your partner have large families, and it would cause some upset or bad feeling on either side if your finances dictate that you need to slash your guest list to the bare minimum, then why not forego tradition a little. Instead of having a formal wedding reception, just hire the largest venue you can, then invite everyone to come along and bring one dish of food to contribute to the evening.
You could set up a wish list beforehand and circulate this around each family to tick off. This way it will be quite effortless for everyone to contribute something as simple as a trifle, a plate of sandwiches, a bottle of wine, or even bags of nibbles such as crisps and peanuts. This way you will only have to pay for the hire of the hall and some entertainment, such as a disco, and everyone else will supply the food and drink.
Sort out your wedding reception venue well in advance. Available spaces get booked up quickly, so as soon as you have set your wedding date, and you have established how many guests you will invite, and you know what style of reception you are going to lay on, you can find a suitable location to host it. A vast hotel function room may feel too cold and empty for a small family reception, but on the other hand, trying to squeeze 90 guests into a tiny community hall only intended for 50 people will feel too overwhelming to be comfortable.
Be strict with your immediate family if you need to be! Sharing your guest list with your parents will inevitably lead to extra guests being added, some of which you may not have seen in years, and may never see again. Try and be as tactful as you can, but remind them that you do have a budget to stick to. If they really do insist on inviting along extra guests, then ask if they would be willing to cover the bill of hiring a lager venue, or paying for the extra catering needed. They may be willing to foot the bill if it means that much to them. Otherwise, it may cause them to change their minds, and allow you to carry on as planned.