Your wedding guest list determines everything

The Importance of Your Wedding Guest List

The People That Matter The Most

Most people will tell you there are stages you go through from the minute you are engaged to the day of your wedding. It's a roller-coaster of emotions and decisions. Many veteran wedding professionals have advice for couples on any aspect they are asked about. They simply have far more experience dealing with weddings than most of their clients. That said, there's one recommendation we give that is a bit different than a lot of our peers. That is, build your wedding guest list before you create your budget. We really think it's the best first step when planning your wedding.

The number of guests you have drives every decision and especially comes into play when you consider your budget. Your guest count becomes your new multiplier. Due to this, you'll need to know it with every meeting you have with those who would potentially be involved in your wedding. Wedding cakes are sold by the slice, caterers charge by the plate, and each centerpiece is one per table. This of course, means everything revolves around the number of attendees from your wedding guest list.

For what we offer, the guest count comes into play for the amount of equipment we need to make sure sound is ideal. On top of that, possible decor features such as pin-spotting for centerpieces are contingent on knowing your multiplier. The amount of space you will actually be using in your venue can impact where the best placement of the dance floor should be and potentially even the use of pipe and drape. Even photo booths hinge your wedding guest list for things like printing, novelties and speed. If you work together on your ideal list first, you can use that number to drive the rest of your conversations.

Not Everyone Will Come

Click picture for a sample wedding guest list tracker

Download a wedding guest list template

A lot has been written about the typical percentage of those who RSVP for weddings. We don't believe there is a consistent percentage across the board. However, there are many factors to consider when speculating your count. With weddings in Cleveland, you have to think about the weather. You probably know that snow is possible between October and April. This can definitely keep many people from traveling on the roads. Travel in general makes a big difference when it comes to your wedding guest list. If most of your guests are in-between Akron / Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, expect a higher turnout due to the decreased financial burden.

The percentage of family vs. friends can make a difference too. Family tend to find a way to make it happen more often than friends. Finally, take into account seasonality. Are the Cleveland Browns playing on that date? Do you have a lot of summer vacationers on your wedding guest list? Are there guests in college? Lots of questions like this can give you a somewhat clearer picture. Bottom line, you won't know for sure who will RSVP but it won't be 100%.

Kids or No Kids?

There are a lot of opinions about kids at weddings...many of them are strong ones. We provide detached council when it comes to questions about kids. This is because it can work as often as it doesn't and it's ultimately your decision. You know your crowd better than we do. And, either way, you are the one who will have to deal with the ramifications. One piece of advice we do have is to be consistent with your policy. A surefire way to make people feel alienated is to have a policy that isn't equal. Most of the time, it is a pretty safe play to go with all or nothing when it comes to kids. The gains and benefits from having or not having kids around at your wedding don't add up to more than the cost of hurting anyone's feelings. Be fair, communicate and stick to your guns.

Create A Tiered Wedding Guest List

A wedding guest list determined this floor plan.

Your wedding guest list will ultimately determine the size of your venue and so many other things.

As mentioned, not everyone you invite will attend and your guest count makes a big difference on your budget. Since you know this when creating your wedding guest list, consider sending out invitations in waves based on tiers. If you do that, you'll be able to add others as spaces open up. Creating tiers has its own challenges, of course. Usually more than one person has a say as to who is invited. If there are multiple decision makers weighing in on who is invited, give them each an allowance of guests. By doing that, you'll even out the impact of who gets to come for sure and who is on standby.

Couples Are Two Times The Guests

If you are looking at pairing down your guest list, then we know it's obvious that guests' plus ones make up half of your list. A common point of contention we've seen over and over are couples who get upset at guests who bring dates they don't see as valid. Like with the inclusion of children, breakdowns in expectations from ambiguity. The clearest ways to communicate who is a valid plus one and who isn't is by saying anyone can bring a plus one or only married couples can come as a unit. This clear cut rule is routed in fairness.

Venue Limitations

Guest table settings determined by wedding guest list.

The guest list determines so much. Number of centerpieces, how much food, which venue, etc.

The first questions couples ask during a tour of a venue is almost always "How many guests can your venue accommodate?" The amount of guests in a venue has many factors including safety, comfort, legality, room flow, etc. Against all that, they are running a business. More guests means more revenue for the space and a larger cut from your budget to you. That's why it's important to work with professionals who have a great reputation and don't take chances. It's also a good idea to look at pictures of the venue with a configuration similar to what you are looking at. There's sometimes a distance between what a venue can legally accommodate and what is ideal for your guests.

We work with venues all the time to take in many different factors in order to have a win/win for everyone. Once we know your guest count, we can call upon our experiences in a specific venue. Then we can help draft a floor plan that makes it look like it was built for the exact number you have. If you are ever unsure about how a specific venue will accommodate the number of attendees you'll be having, feel free to ask us. We'll be one hundred percent honest with you. Even more, we'll also provide you with options that can help manipulate the space to make it perfect for you.

In Summary

While we provide wedding entertainment, lighting, photo booths and other entertainment, our goal is to do more than that. We want to be your partner. While most event companies stress the creation of the budget as the first move you should make, we know weddings of any budget can be special as long as you have the right people there celebrating with you. Reach out if you are looking for a team with over two decades of wedding experience in your corner.

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Jay r Rich

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