Ray has worked in the wedding industry for nearly 9 years now & I have for nearly 6. As we tackle this new adventure of planning our own wedding we would love to share this knowledge we have gained over these many years coupled with the reality of our own planning process to give you the best & most all encompassing look at planning a wedding.
Over the next several months I will be sharing our experience with all of you both on social media & right here on my blog answering some of the tough questions & giving my opinion on some of the big decisions.
So we are engaged... now what? Where do we start when it comes to planning such a large & important event? I always suggest starting with a budget & a guest list. These two items really go hand & hand and will start to give your wedding day a direction.
Start by making a list. Seems so simple but really putting pen to paper or in our case, making an excel spreadsheet, can really get the ball moving. Write down every person you can you possibly think of that you might want at your wedding.
From there decide if that bottom line number is one you are comfortable with or if your "wish list" of people is just too high. For most people, Ray & I included, your wish list of people will be far greater than the number of guests you intend to invite so from this point come up with some rules & guidelines to help you eliminate guests in a fair & reasonable way.
For Ray and I we decided that we were not going to invite any guests under the age of 21. We both have seen hundreds of weddings with kids & without kids and easily decided that not having kids made the most sense for the direct we wanted our wedding to go in. Although we love kids, we see weekend after weekend how kids at a wedding can really drive the direction & overall feel of the way.
-Kids crying, running around & being a distraction.
-Guests & vendors catering to the wants & needs of the children especially during dancing.
-The parents are unable to truly enjoy themselves because they are watching over their little ones.
-High school aged kids trying to sneak booze (& usually being successfully over served).
-Most of the kids won't even remember coming to our wedding... I know I don't remember any weddings I had been to before high school.
We want our wedding day to be a night off for all our guests to truly be present & celebrate with us. Not to mention we were able to cut our guest list by over 30 people when eliminating children which was a big cost saver for us.
Extending a Plus One:
After eliminating children from our list we were still over on our intended guest count by a few too many so we looked at plus ones next. We decided that we were going to need to be strict about who we are going to extend plus ones to. We came up with these simple rules:
-If they are married, engaged or dating for 3+ years their significant other was going to be invited.
-If they weren't going to know anyone else at the wedding besides Ray & I they were going to be extended a plus one.
-If we have a legit relationship with their significant other other than just being someones boyfriend/girlfriend they were going to be extended a plus one.
This was probably the hardest decision to make since there is a lot of grey area when it comes to this topic but we did our best to keep it fair & consistent.
With that being said I think it is important to address that no matter if you come from a completely loving place, & try to be as fair and consistent as possible someone is still going to be upset with a decision you make. You can't please everyone & people often forget that this is YOUR wedding day & YOUR love story that you are inviting them to be a guest at. This is absolutely YOUR decision & as much as you want to accommodate everyones wish list at the end of the day honoring your fiancé & yourselves wishes is so much more important. Your family & friends will understand & the shock will wear off but you never get a second chance at your dream wedding day.
After eliminating children & cutting a majority of the plus ones we were finally within a range we felt comfortable with. Still above our initially intended guest count of 150 but at least within reason knowing that typically 15-20% of guests invited will not come.
From there we took our guest count & looked at if that made sense with our overall budget.
I get asked the same question all the time "If I am having about 100 people at my wedding, how much is it going to cost me?" Although your guest list is probably the biggest factor in your overall budget, it is not your only factor so giving you a clear answer on this would need to come from talking through your priorities. For example:
-What level of catering are you intending to provide?
-What type of venue are we interested in & what is included in that rental?
-Do we like the tables, linens & chairs provided or do we want to upgrade those?
-Are you having an open bar the entire night?
-Are you having a photographer & videographer?
-Are you providing transportation for our guests?
-How lavish of florals do we want?
-Are we adding on any "extras" such as a lounge, photo booth, etc?
-Are we wanting a band or DJ?
-Is everything in one location or are we having the ceremony in one spot & reception in another?
This list can go on & on forever but my point to all of this is figure out your priorities & then decide if you are willing to give up the other pieces. It doesn't matter if your budget is $20,000 or $200,000 you still need to be realistic about what that number can get you which is why I strongly recommend hiring a planner who can guide you & help you to understand what you can afford with your guest count & wish list in mind. But we will talk about hiring a planner at another time...