Have you ever wondered what the biggest hurdle is when your planning? It’s not the humidity or weather, it’s not the decor, it’s not even whether or not your cousin’s little boy is actually going to get that ring pillow up the aisle.

It’s your numbers…guest numbers that is. All to often we see couples stress and do one of two things in regard to guest count. They’ll either invite the masses (insert open church invites here) in hope that not everyone will show and end up getting a “massive” response. Or they don’t do a thorough check after the RSVP deadline and overestimate their final numbers. Either scenario is a heart and piggy bank breaker.

So here’s a few ways you can avoid the numbers game:

  • MAKE AN INVITATION LIST AND STICK TO IT. Yeah, I know that is obnoxiously typed in all caps..but it’s a golden rule you need to obey. This is especially true if you aren’t footing the bill. Consider your poor parents when they budgeted for $10,000 in catering and it doubles.
  • When scrutinizing who’s on the bubble you need to ask yourself, “Have I talked to this person in the last year?” My rule of thumb is that if you haven’t spoken to them, and they haven’t made an effort to stay in touch with you, they won’t be overly offended when they don’t get the invite.
  • Avoid the dreaded “Guilt Invite”. You know what I’m talking about. You run into a former teacher from high school, Mrs. Whatsherface, and you mention in conversation that you’re getting married. There’s a split second when you panic and think, “SHOULD I INVITE HER? The answer is no you shouldn’t. Let the moment pass and she’ll wish you well and you’ll be on your way.
  • Observe the deadline, we usually suggest that if you have the time to send your invites a few weeks early, do so. This will give you plenty of follow up time if you need to call potential guests after the RSVP date that you’ve set. Generally speaking, you want to have your tentative guest count about 30 days prior, hard numbers 2 weeks before the wedding date and final cutoff one week prior to your date.
  • Don’t be afraid to follow up via email/phone and ask those who haven’t responded. On a personal note, I hate when someone doesn’t answer. This makes you feel like you’re in limbo wondering if¬† should you add them or just assume they aren’t coming. We know it’s a hard call to make, but don’t be afraid to put someone on the spot and tell them you have to have an answer and it won’t hurt your feelings either way, but the caterer needs to know.
  • Speaking of limbo..when you don’t get an RSVP don’t just assume they are coming. Make the effort to call. I think worse than having a few extra guests show is have far too many you’ve accounted for that don’t show up on your wedding day. We’ve often seen clients panic and add seating and catering for 2-3 dozen only to end up with trays of food leftover and nothing to do with it but toss it in the trash. Every time we see trays of unused food we just hear the sounds of CHA-CHING in our heads. If you’re worried about having folks show who haven’t responded, just add a few more servings. I usually suggest having enough on hand to fill out a full guest table.

My parting words on this are to work that list! Don’t have a list? Create a template online (google docs) that you can share with vendors and you’ll have access on your mobile as well that you can share whenever you need to. Tracking your guest count is especially necessary if you’re having a plated meal which will require an entree selection and seating chart.¬†Seating charts….now there’s a whole other ball game and a post for another day!

Feeling overwhelmed? Need someone to help you pull it all together? Contact us for your free in-office consultation..we even offer free phone consultations if you’re not currently in the Tri-Cities but getting married within our area!

AUTHOR: Brandi Woodall
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