Your venue, food, and beverages will statistically be the place that you spend the most money on your wedding.
You can end up wasting a lot of cash that could be used in more meaningful places if you’re not careful. Being smart about your guest list and catering is the best way to make sure your wedding budget goes to what’s really important to you (especially in regards to photography and videography).
Here are 5 ways to build a perfectly-sized guest list and catering plan so that you get the most out of your budget.
1) Prioritize your initial guest list into groups.
Share a spreadsheet with your soon-to-be-spouse and color code your guests into groups from those you could never imagine your wedding without all the way down to those who may be obligated invites or “would be nice if they were there.” Four or five color groups are ideal. When you have to make cuts, start by chopping off the lower groups until you get to your ideal number. If there are a couple people who got cut that you keep thinking about and you have a bit of extra room, add them back!
2) Skip the plus-ones.
Married guests should always be invited as a couple and it is courteous to extend the same respect to guests in long-term relationships. However, you do not need to feel obligated to give your single guests a Plus One just because they are single.
Instead, sit your single guests together at a table and let them get to know each other.
Bottom line: It will save you money and sentiment to only invite guests that you can invite by name (as opposed to “and guest” on the invitation). This saves you from unexpected or unwelcome visitors — if you invite a guest’s significant other by name and then they break up, etiquette says they are not at liberty to replace that guests with someone else.
These two keys will not only save you a boatload of money, but they will also help preserve the “feel” of your wedding by making sure you and your new spouse are surrounded by genuine love and support – not just people looking for a free party.
Yes, you should strive to give your guests a great experience, but it is their privilege to be a part of your special day. Don’t dwell on everyone you can’t invite; focus on who you do get to invite and what a great time it will be to celebrate together!
3) Consider having a child-free wedding.
This saves you money, space, and maybe a little peace of mind. Just be careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings by inviting some children and not others.
4) Be smart about alcohol.
At times there seems to be a stigma about modern weddings that a bride and groom are being cheap or inconsiderate to guests if they don’t provide an open bar. This is not fair to couples working with a more modest budget or those with family and friends who perhaps shouldn’t be trusted with unlimited booze at their fingertips.
A great alternative is providing a certain amount of beer and/or wine to your guests at no charge, and then allowing a cash bar for anything above and beyond. This discourages guests from accidentally drinking too much but still shows thoughtfulness and sets everyone up for a great night!
After all, you want your guests relaxed on the dance floor – not rowdy and raunchy.
Another idea: provide an open bar for cocktail hour only then beer/wine/cash bar after that! Most venues will also allow you to pay in advance for drink tickets if you want to let people choose their own beverage while still keeping things classy.
5) Reconsider the giant wedding party.
Maybe you have the perfect 12 family members and friends to fill your bridal party neatly with 6 on each side – but more than likely it is not that easy. Don’t be pressured into thinking you have to have a certain number. If you foresee hurt feelings and potential drama by asking these 3 people but not those 3 people, keep it simple and just have a Maid of Honor and Best Man or 2 ‘maids and 2 men.
If you are tempted to just include everyone, remember this: Every bridesmaid and groomsman that you enlist will be another gift that you have to buy, another place at the rehearsal dinner, and another set of any mandatory accessories or beauty sessions.
Take the “less is more approach” and let the rest of your group enjoy the wedding as beloved guests.
Hint: you can still invite whoever you want to your bridal shower, bachelorette party, and to get ready with you. They are free to join if they want to spend the money, or they can politely decline without obligation. This way no one is excluded and there are no hurt feelings.
But for anything that is mandatory except the dress/tux – including shoes, jewelry, hair, makeup, and nails – etiquette says the bride and groom ought to supply. No one should need to take out a new line of credit just to be part of your big day! Remember that they are already shelling out for travel, gift, and the attire. Save yourself a few dollars by slimming that bridal party down and inviting other friends to join for the fun stuff if they want to at their own expense.
Great! You just saved yourself a ton of money and sanity on your wedding day. Here are 5 smarter ways to use the extra cash:
- Upgrade to a Premium Video Package and have a movie-quality wedding video to enjoy and re-live your day for the rest of your life.
- Add a wow-factor to your wedding video like a Love Story or Drone.
- Add a 2nd photographer for double the angles and double the beautiful images.
- Book a Photo Booth so your guests have entertainment at the reception + a personalized memory of your wedding to take home. The memory book we make you also serves as a great guest book!
- Extend or upgrade your honeymoon!