The most important factor in determining your budget is the selection of your guests.  The amount of guests you have your wedding will narrow down your available venue choices, the overall cost of food, the total price of the bar tab, and can positively or negatively influence the amount of fun you have at your wedding reception.

Since catering services are based on price per person, it is easy to see that by increasing the size of your guest list, you also increase the cost of food and drinks; however, no two caterers are alike, and even with the top-quality catering services, you still have multiple options to make them within your budget. You have various food options from different types and cuts of meat to vegan selections to match individual preferences. Just keep in mind that certain individual preference can cost more or less than others.

Having an ever-expanding guest list can eventually become out of control. If you let it. Oftentimes, brides and grooms feel obligated to invite their parents’ coworkers and friends. Now, I don’t have any advice on how to tactifully stop that, but you will have to keep it in consideration when selecting your venue. All venues must uphold certain legal standards from capacity size to parking restrictions to late night noise ordinances. You will need to find these answers and compare during the selection process.

If you use the spreadsheet listed below and find that, as a couple, you already have 150 guests to invite and know that mom and dad will invite more, you may be pushing past that 200 max limit for the venue, but note, the larger the guest count, the increased likelihood that your dance floor will look fuller and with the right mix, you might have more fun.

So, here is how the spreadsheet works. On the left, write the name of the person or couple that you might invite. This includes members of your wedding party. As a bride and groom, rate the importance of having each person attend. Do this individually and remember that no feelings need to be hurt.

Then have your parents rate the importance or use what you think your parents would rate them if you are the one who is more in charge. For an added bonus, I included a fun factor column for each guest as well. If you find that you are more fun when they are around, they get bonus points. The highest total number of points should determine who makes your cut.

Create the Perfect Guest List

Create the Perfect Guest List.xlsx

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