Okay chicks, so we hateeee to interrupt your happy day of hearts and love, but we figured it was as good a time as any to drop some wedding wisdom on you - especially if you’ll be getting engaged today/tonight/tomorrow/any day in the near future. Enjoy that gorgeous ring on your finger and that blissful feeling in your bones for as long as you can, because once you start the planning process, you’re going to need a lot more than a few fruity Valentine’s Day cocktails to get you through the budget discussions. Can you say killjoy?So, we caught up with our planner pal and real AF wedding guide and girlfriend, Jamie Wolfer of JW Coordination to get the serious - no bulls*** - scoop on what the actual biggest budget killer in the game is… accounting for a ridiculous 80 percent of your total budget… your guest count. DING DING DING. 80 percent, that is HUGE. And yes, it’s always a sad sad day when you have to start slashing your guest list, and come out of your #blessed bridal bubble to face reality. But, the fact of the matter is, if you can deal with knocking those numbers down, you’re going to be in a much better position.
I didn’t have a huge wedding, I think our total guest count on the big day was 167, 170 tops? Of course, it was definitely not small, but I’ve been to weddings with 200, 250, 300 guests, so my day seemed manageable. And now with my sister’s wedding coming up this fall, her list 250+ strong, I feel a little better about being able to keep my list tight. I can say with total resolve that I probably haven’t seen about half of the friends that were at my wedding since then (and it was going on 4 years ago).
So, that should give you some perspective. If you think you have to invite all of your high school friends, college sorority sisters, work proximity associates (thank you, Ron Swanson), former friends of the fam, the most distant cousins/aunts and uncles/relatives whom you’ve never met nor care to see you exchange vows, you don’t. Because all those people are just going to destroy your wedding budget and you may very well never see them again once you have your new last name. The struggle is sooooo real.
Jamie breaks the average total cost per guest down by very obviously impactful line items - chairs, tables, invitations, catering, booze, floral arrangements, etc. And she comes out with a $90+ per person expense, which is furiously fluctuable when you consider whether you’re transforming a raw space and bringing in all of your own vendors + site fees, or, instead, going with a venue and incurring all of their fees. So, just use that number as a rough guide and cross-reference that with your current A, B, C and D list. If you need to stay on budget, then by all means start streamlining.
We’re going to help you out with a few more considerations to keep top of mind when you’re going through your own pre-nuptials purge.
You can handle it, we swear. And if not, just default to the ‘It’s my wedding, Ima do what I want’ school of thought. That’ll get you through anything.
Try to stick with a cadence. If you need to limit your list, then don’t lead with an Oprah-style “you get a plus one and you get a plus one and you get a plus one” vigor. Instead, only give the prized +1’s to your nearest and dearest - peeps already married or in long-term relationships. Non-college-level cousins certainly don’t need a dance floor ride or die.
Give your parents strict stipulations on size. Of course, you have to take this with a grain of salt, especially if your parents (or in laws) are helping with a lot of the costs. But if you can get ahead of the situation, and throw down your #s game real early - i.e. ‘Mom and dad, you get 50 guests, do with that as you wish’ - you can avoid stress later.
Ditch your OG plan for a destination affair. Aside from finding a dream-worthy place for you and boo to say I Do, having your wedding day off the map means that you can trim that guest list to bits and only have true VIPs in attendance. It won’t work, necessarily, if you roll with ridiculously rich friends, but usually the added expense of flying, staying at a resort, taking time off of work or having to arrange child care for the little ones can weed a lot of people out. On second thought, just take the flower girls and ring bearers, they’ll be the best guests.
You may want to brush up on the microwedding trend, too, if you’re still feeling weird. Actually, really, read this now. It’ll calm you down SO fast!