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Brilliant Wedding Pages June 2, 2003

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 Volume 8      Issue 1
How To Begin Wedding Planning - Part One

The Guest List

Congratulations!  You are engaged!  Now, where do you begin your wedding planning?  You might think that you should begin by planning a date for your wedding?  Or, contacting your church to put your wedding on the calendar.  Well, those are good things to do, but you may be surprised to find out that before you can do those things, you need to reserve a wedding reception hall (assuming you are having a traditional wedding).

But, wait!  Before you set out to find the hall of your dreams, you need to accomplish a few more things! First, you need to know how many guests you will be accommodating and second, you will need to begin formulating a reception budget.  In this article, however, we will just tackle the guest list.

Okay, don't panic!  I know the words "guest list" can be a pretty stressful thing, and more than likely not where you wanted to begin your wedding planning.  But, this doesn't have to be overwhelming.  If you keep calm about it, hopefully, the people around you will as well.

Here are suggestions for how to begin planning your guest list:

  1. Contact each of your parents and ask them to start preparing a guest list.  They can do this however they would like, but I would suggest to them that as long as they are going through their address books, they may as well compile the addresses and phone numbers of these people for you!  This will save you the hassle later.
  2. If there are sensitive issues with divorced or separated parents, make sure to address those issues from the start.  You and your fiance will need to decide what is right for you and your wedding, but this could be tough on you both (oh boy, your first tough decision as an engaged couple!).  Make sure that you are a united front and to stick to decisions you make together.  This will let others know that they can't get between the two of you and will help to form a lasting bond between you and your fiance.
  3. An Excel Spreadsheet is a great way to compile the names, addresses and phone numbers.  (By they way, if you are asking, "What do I need the phone numbers for?". trust me, it may come in handy later on.)  Here is an example guest list that you and your parents can use.
  4. If you know right off the bat that you are looking at a very large guest list, you may also want to ask your parents to prepare a primary and secondary list - the primary list being the "must-haves" and the secondary list being if you can afford it or if there is room.
  5. You and your fiance should also each create a guest list for your friends and co-workers.  You may as well compile their addresses and phone numbers as well!
  6. Don't forget, anyone not married and over the age of 16 who is invited would generally get to bring a guest (although, this is up to you and what you decide for your wedding).  Make sure your final numbers reflect the number of guests invited as well.
  7. Total the number of guests.  On average, 15%-20% of the people invited will not attend.  Multiply your total by 15% (or 20% if much of your family is out-of-town) and you will have a rough estimate of how many people you will need to plan for.  Ex. 225 total guests x .15 = 33.75 ave. guests that won't make it; 225 - 34 = 191 total estimated guests  (By the way, you could also multiply the number of guests by .85 and skip the subtracting.)
  8. Double-check your numbers.  Those guests can be tricky!

If your guest list is already totally obnoxious, you have some tougher decisions ahead - who to cut, whether or not you need to cut people from the list, etc.  But, for now, don't worry too much about it.  Your next step is to begin talking about the reception budget.  Tips on that in our next Cost-Effective Bride!

Best Wishes,
Kelly Kons

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