You are newly engaged and now the fun can truly begin – the planning and design! Before picking table linens, however, your first steps often include how many guests you would like to invite. When you get right down to it, this can be an overwhelming task at best and a nightmare at worst. Unfortunately, you have to decide who gets a wedding invite and who does not.

After adding your families to the list, it’s likely that you’re already pushing up wards of 50+ guests. Then, you have to consider your parents’ friends who have known you since the diaper days. Now you may be left wondering where there is room on your list for any of your friends. Never fear! We have a few pro tips on how to select the perfect guest list. You’ll stay within budget and won’t be left wondering, “Do I really have to send her a wedding invite?”

Create Three Wedding Invite Lists

I know, you’ve just been tasked with creating one list of guests and now we’re asking you to make three?! Yes. And trust us, it’ll actually make things easier! For lack of better terms, create your VIP, IP, and P lists: Very Important People, Important People, and People. If you’re uncomfortable with those titles, consider titling the lists A, B, and C.

On your VIP/A list, put those who simply must receive a wedding invite (think: moms, dads, sisters, etc.) Imagine your budget is super low and you can only invite the most important people: who would that be? On your second list, add those who you really want to send a wedding invite. These are the people you consider your go-to people (think: best friends, favorite uncles, etc.) This list is made up of people who you’d love to see at your wedding if budget allows. On your list of “People”, or list C, put those who you’d like to send a wedding invite, but will be the first to get cut (think: coworkers, acquaintances).

Remember, there may be some people your parents insist on having on your VIP list, even though you may prefer to nudge them to list B (or even C). Sitting down with your fiance and seriously considering who would make these lists can be extremely helpful in keeping your guest list manageable.

Wedding Invite List

Guest listConsider the Budget

If you’ve read our post about wedding planning mistakes to avoid (see it here!), you know that your venue & food price allocation should be about 50% of your budget. Knowing this can help you determine just how much money you have to spend on your guest meals. For example, if you have a $50,000 budget, as a result your venue and food allocation should be about $25,000. If you’d like to send a wedding invite to 150 people, that leaves you roughly $166 per person for food. That number may sound outrageous, the average cost of a sit down catered meal is $100-$150. This usually depends on your caterer. If your guest list is higher, but your budget doesn’t have any wiggle room, consider a different style dinner (think: buffet or stations).

***Knowing what you’re comfortable spending per guest is important to know before you go venue hunting, as some venues have their own catering or a list of caterers you must chose from. If those caterers are above your budget, you may need to consider a different venue.

wedding invite

Alysia & Jayson Photography; Atlantic Catering

Know Your Alternatives

If you’re dead set on sending a wedding invite to 200+ guests, but your budget won’t allow for a 200+ person wedding, consider your alternatives. It’s never classy to invite people to your ceremony, but not your reception, so please, don’t do that. It is okay, however, to have a small ceremony with a larger reception on a different day. You can host a casual, BBQ style reception without all the bells and whistles (think: no DJ, no catered food, etc.)

While this may not be ideal, it might be the best way to stay within your budget and invite your entire guest list. Consider your priorities. If you want all 200 guests to share in your joy, you may have to decide what’s more important – a less expensive reception or cutting your guest list.