Monday, March 7, 2011

Step 10 - Create A Guest List for your Wedding

(9 Months to 24 Months Before the Wedding)
The guests that line the aisle on your wedding day should be special people in your lives. Creating your wedding guest list may be a very challenging process.  As you do your planning, because of financial restrictions, you may find yourself having to exclude some people. The important thing is make sure the important people are invited and not succumb to family or peer pressure to invite and pay for non-essential guests.

Before you begin your guest list, you should have your wedding vision in your head and all figured out. Is the wedding going to be an intimate gathering, a large scale grand affair, or something in between. You need to formulate about how big of a wedding you are going to have before you start making appointments with wedding vendors. You and your fiance need to sit down and come to an agreement on the size of the wedding in conjunction with your financial restrictions. Do you each vision a headcount of 30 or 300?  You first come up with a ballpark figure to have when you meet the certain wedding vendors.  After you firm up your wedding ceremony site, your wedding reception hall, and your caterer, you will be able to come up with a budgeted headcount restraint count.

As you begin formulating your guest count list you want to focus on creating five buckets. The first bucket will be "the bride's family", the second bucket will be "the groom's family", the third bucket will be "the bride's friends", the fourth bucket will be "the groom's friends" and the fifth bucket will be "special invites".  Special invites will mostly consist of wedding vendors such as your wedding officiant, the wedding planner, photographer, videographer, disc jockey, musicians, maybe even the florist, decorator, or wedding cake baker. If your guest count is an issue, there is no problem in knocking off the wedding vendor's first, if they are in attendence at a wedding you can even see if you could have someone drop off a sandwich or arrange a cheap meal from the caterer.

If you are early enough in the wedding process, you may take some time to think about and put together your guest list.  Be sure to gain input from each of your parent's and any financial contributors. If your Uncle Charlie provides funding for the wedding, you may make his day by having his buddy Harry along.  As you decide on each guest put together a guest status, either a "yes", "maybe", or "no". Your yes guests are your essential invites and your maybes non-essential. When you are finalizing your list, you and your spouse should rank order your lists of your maybes. After your meeting with your key wedding vendors you will have a headcount to work with and then you can add your essential guests and then add your non-essentials guests up to your headcount cutoff point.

When you prepare your guest list, be careful on whom you share it with. You don't want the word to get out on where people are ranked on your cutoff list, you want to keep everybody happy so share the list only with close, trustworthy people. Later on when you start sending invitations out to your guests, you may get some RSVP's that returned with no they can't attend. Wait until the RSVP period is over and then you can send out invitations for the next ranked individuals that were on the "maybe" list.

As you prepare the wedding guest list, there are many tools available to you. These days there are many wedding websites that have wedding templates, there are wedding templates available with the IPad and wedding apps you can load into the IPhone. I mentioned one that has positive reviews, you can check out their website called . Google Docs and Excel are great tools to create websites. Don't be afraid to learn Google Docs or Excel, they are pretty easy to learn and these days you can put the keyword into "youtube" and find lessons on how to use and create spreadsheets. You can even create a guest list the old fashioned way, create them using lined paper in your wedding binder. If you can afford it, the IPad and IPhone are cool tools to have to help you create your guest list.

If you use Google Docs or Excel or any other spreadsheet package you may want to lay out your spreadsheet in this fashion. The columns can be changed around for your purpose. On top of your spreadsheet you might include your name and date and time of your wedding and reception so if you are contacted by anybody, you have the information at your fingertips lest you forget. Each column holds a different piece of information about each guest.

Your spreadsheet columns going across might show:
Cell 1 - "Guest Number"
Cell 2 - "Guest's Title"
Cell 3 - "First Name"
Cell 4 - "Last Name"
Cell 5 - "Street Address"
Cell 6 - "City/State"
Cell 7 - "Zip Code"
Cell 8 - "Phone Number"
Cell 9 - "Electronic Address"
Cell 10 - "Electronic Type"
Cell 11 - "Guest Status"
Cell 12 - "Table Number"
Cell 13 - "Party Side"
Cell 13 - "Save the Date Sent"
Cell 14 - "Invitations Sent"
Cell 15 - "RSVP Received"
Cell 16 - "Invitation Response"
Cell 17 - "Meal Ordered"
Cell 18 - "Dietary Restriction"
Cell 19 - "Gift Received"
Cell 20 - "Thank-you for Gift"
Cell 21 - "Out-of-town Guests"
Cell 22 - "Need Accommodations"
Cell 23 - "Bridal Shower Invite"
Cell 24 - "RSVP for Bridal"
Cell 25 - "Thank you for Bridal"
Cell 26 - "Notes"

Some notes about the columns, rearrange cells for your specific needs.  Cell 2 Guest Title means how the invitees should be addressed either "Mr", "Mrs", "Ms", or "Dr". Cell 9 Electronic Type means how you will communicate with guests either "email", "Facebook", "twitter", or "snail mail" and include the address in Cell 8 Electronic Address. Cell 13 is the Party Side the person is on either "B" for Bride's Family, "G" for Groom's Family, "BF" for Bride's Friends", or "GF" for Groom's Friends, or "S" Special Invite.  Cell 17 Meal Ordered is the meal from the wedding reception and you might show "beef", "poultry" or "seafood".  Use a short description of the meal. This information is provided to give you ideas on how you might lay out your spreadsheet. Keep your guest list as a keepsake in your wedding planner. Many years from now it will be a quick reference of who all came to your wedding.

Going down the page you will list your guests and you want to hunt down their addresses, phone number, and contact information from family and you will be able to fill out the remaining information on each of them once you get their invitation RSVP response.  Now down on the bottom of the spreadsheet you can put little notes and have your notes color coded.  You might color code table groupings, or Party Side, or meals, or invitations sent out, or Guest Status or what ever information you would like identified quickly. You often see a color box on top of your spreadsheet and you just move your cursor down to the cell then up top format and shade fill the color code.  The color code helps you identify what groupings people are with for a specific category.

If you have never used a spreadsheet before, in this day and age you don't have to learn how to use them in a class, you can teach yourself off of the internet. Remember your guests lists can change, if you want to try to add people to come to your wedding, you might be able to add them by changing a more expensive entree with a cheaper one or a set of cheaper entrees. You get a new lower price and you then can add a few more guests. Or you talk over the wedding with your parents and they decide to allow additional funding for the wedding. Or you decide to use a guitarist instead of a dance band. Be sure though to follow your budget, if you need to make changes, where can you find additional funds?

So that's how you create a guest list for your wedding.  If people get offended because they weren't invited, you have to draw the line somewhere, you have no way to please everybody.  The people offended may be upset for a day or two but a couple of days later they will understand you are limited by a budget constraint and will get over it. Just be sure to please your parent's and financial contributors.

See you on the other side!  Tomorrow.

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