Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Step 45 - Finalize your Guest List and Create a Wedding Expenditure Tracking Sheet

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
It's time for you and your honey to get together and firm up your guest list and fine tune your budget. First the guest list. You want to refer back to Step 10. You should have started to put together 5 buckets of guests. The first bucket is the "bride's family", the second bucket is the "groom's family", the third bucket is the "bride's friends", the fourth bucket is the "groom's friends", and the fifth bucket is "special invites". Pull that information back together.

Next, are there any changes to your "yes", "maybe", "no" lists. Does anyone get moved from one list to another. The person you were mad at and on the "no" list is now a "maybe", or you forget to add a couple of aunts and uncles. Call your "yes" your A List, your "maybe" list your B List, and your "no" your C List. You know your A's are your definites for your wedding. Now you and your honey should go through your B list and rank order them. The bride goes first, if her family's paying the wedding bill. Go back and forth and add your guests to the priority list until all your Type B's have been placed. Each of you can give in a little bit and let the other select two or three in a row if there is a group you want together.

You can do this grouping on an Excel spreadsheet, a white board, or a sheet of loose leaf paper, whatever works best for you. Next step is the target amount. The targeted amount should have come from your food portion of your interviews. That number should have been derived from meeting with your wedding reception facility and your caterer. Your wedding reception facility only can hold so many people and your caterer would determine what food costs applied to those people and how many fit that budget.

Your next step is to take the targeted number of guests (from reception and caterer interview), then subtract your Type A guests, then what's left is your Type B guests that are allowed to the wedding. As an example, say you have 200 guests on your targeted list. 125 people on your Type A list, 100 people on your Type B list and 25 people on your Type C list. That means 200 (targeted) - 125 (Type A) = 75 (Type B). The first 75 people on your Type B list you can invite to the wedding. The odds are, a few guests will not be able to make the wedding, the likelihood that the Type B guests from numbers 76 - 90 will end up getting invited soon after the RSVPs are returned. Be sure invitations don't get sent out until it's official, an invitation does not get sent out unless the guest will definitely be invited! A friendship may be lost forever if you find you need to uninvite a guest, don't ever ever do it!

If you go through this exercise and you find you really want some more of your Type B guests to go, they didn't make the cutoff, now you have a big decision to make. You can get more guests by convincing your benefactors (the ones paying the bill) to add more funds to the pot, or you yourselves add more to the pot, or try to go with a less expensive meal on some of the food entrees, or have the event changed from sit-down to buffet, or change the reception venue location, or find more budget dollars from another wedding category. If you still have spots available after you have gone through your type B guests have been subtracted you could think of adding more guests or think about inviting some Type C guests, make Uncle Charlie promise to stay away from the bar or put the ex next to a single girl friend to grab his attention.

After you go through this exercise, you need to make sure you have full addresses on everybody. You don't want to get charged extra for missing information when you meet up with the calligrapher. Also get all the information in print, the computer, from a typewriter, calligraphers charge extra if the contacts are handwritten. Hunt down every person's contact information, from your mother, father, sisters, cousins, friends, internet, yellow pages, whatever, give yourself a deadline that everyone's address that may be invited to the wedding must get in your spreadsheet in one week's time.

Also, as you are finalizing your guest list, you need to finalize what information needs to be sent to the wedding guests along with the wedding invitations. You need to ask yourselves a number of questions. What entrees do your guests want at the wedding reception? What day does the caterer need the entree counts so he/she can order the food? Is there be a need for maps? Are directions needed to the ceremony site, the wedding reception or to the bride's house? Are there any reunion activities planned? Are out-of-towner invited to the rehearsal dinner?

The answers to more questions are needed. Are there a block of rooms ordered at area hotels, and what's the contact information? Are there less expensive hotels, and the contact for them? Is there a shuttle, to and from the airport, and does it go to other hotels or to any city sites? What about do we inform guests about Bed and Breakfasts in the area and what's the contact number for them? Are there any bridal registries, and how do they work, and are the bridal registries on line? Is there any special entertainment at the wedding, is there a music band, and when do they finish playing? Is there someone who can be a point of contact and can they give guests a ride? Is there a brunch get together the day after the wedding? Is there any bit of information that should be sent out with the wedding invitation? This information can be sent out as an additional information card, some items such as entrees can be put on an RSVP card, or you may create a business card with pertinent information on it so the guests can keep in their wallet or put on their refrigerator with a magnet.

Also, you want to create a wedding expenditure sheet similar to the chart below. This chart could be created using an excel spreadsheet or created using a number of looseleaf pages. You should have your wedding expenditures tracked in your wedding planner/organizer. Any time you buy anything or pay a wedding vendor you should update your wedding expenditures. You could derive your wedding expenditures from the allocation of your wedding budget from Step 15 of this blog. If you need to find additional funds, you can see if you can move funds from another wedding category. Before moving expenditures around, always check with your significant other and from whom ever is funding your wedding for their okay! Be sure though to stick to your wedding budget as best you can!

Keep both your wedding guest list and wedding expenditure documents in your wedding organizer and whenever there are any updates, make sure the information is always updated. You would hate to find out you have booked a vendor and you found your fiancee, had moved expenses without recording it. Keep your wedding planning well organized and communicate any adjustments. Remember to finalize your guest list and have all contact information and other informational needs ready for whoever is going to work up the invitations. Track all wedding expenditures.
It would be nice if you ended with a surplus, then you can use those funds either for the honeymoon or for some house needs!

See you on the other side!

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