Frugal Wedding: Preparing Your Guest List

Preparing the guest list can be the hardest part of the whole planning process, but there’s no cause for despair. It’s the single highest-impact wedding element to economize. Guest numbers are the largest individual component of the entire wedding price, because each guest increases the costs in the major expense areas — venue and catering.

The more guests you have, the bigger the venue you need, and the higher the price you are likely to pay. More guests means more floral arrangements for reception tables, and more meals and drinks to pay for to the caterer. Reducing your guest list is not only the single biggest-impact method for reducing overall costs, but it allows you to cut expenses without affecting the overall wedding experience.

Picking the people you’d like to have at your wedding is easy. Picking the people you must have at your wedding is more difficult.

The guest list can be tricky, and fraught with family peril. Here’s one simple principle to operate by, and if you stick to this principle, you can make sure to create an event filled with people you cherish and value, while you strike your biggest blow against costs: Invite only people whose attendance is essential to a current relationship that you value.

Here’s how to apply this principle: Rule out every potential guest whom you could decline to invite without damaging an important relationship.

Wedding Bliss on a BudgetNow you can apply this principle to each category of guest such as family members, friends, and work-related associates. It must be remembered that the pool of potential guests also includes friends, significant others, and associates of family members, friends, and workmates.

Choosing family members is the easy part. You invite the family members you are close to; the ones you see regularly, or maintain strong relationships with from a distance.

Of key importance here is limiting the numbers of family members’ companion guests. If your married cousin is invited, her husband should be, too. If your aunt is in a long-term relationship, her partner needs to be invited, too. As for your cousin’s new boyfriend, or your aunt’s new girlfriend? This is where you have to draw some lines. You do this by applying the relationship-based principle. You love your cousin, and adore your aunt, but if you tell them you want their company only, with no second guest, will this cause lasting damage to your relationship? In most cases, the answer is no.

Choosing friends is the hardest part. You want every one of your friends at your wedding. If you had unlimited finances, that would be possible. But one of the reasons you’re reading this is because you want to keep costs reduced. You want your important friends to be there. So, on the big day, whom can you live without? To answer that question, apply the relationship principle. Will you still have the relationship you want with a particular friend if you don’t invite him or her to your wedding? Then there’s the slightly touchy matter of companions. Here, as with family, you apply the standard: Is your friend in a long-term, committed relationship with the potential companion? If the answer is yes, and your friend wishes to have his or her companion accompany him or her, you should invite the companion.

Your wedding need not cost big buck! If you plan it strategically you can have fantastic wedding without spending thousands of dollars. How can you plan a frugal wedding? Follow seven steps outlined by Ethan Baron in his book, Wedding Bliss on a Budget, and enjoy your big day!

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