I’ve always been asked ‘how can I plan a wedding without overspending’. The answer is simple – plan, plan, plan. That means make budgets and estimates before spending a kobo. Be intentional about how many guests to invite and that will keep your reception budget under control.
Reducing your guest list is the easiest way to reduce your wedding cost. But how do you do it? The simple tips in the 3-step guest-trimming etiquette or rules in this post will guide you on exactly what to do to trim down your wedding guest list to a manageable number you can cater to. Swipe/ scroll down to read on.
When planning a wedding on a low budget, you find that you have to cut down costs here and there in order to not overspend. I already explained that reducing the number of guests is a quick and easy way to make your wedding less expensive. After drafting your initial guest list, it’s normal to discover that your current number of guests is more than your budget capacity. You either have to increase your wedding budget (look for more money) to cater for all that guest or cut down your guest list. That means, some people will not be invited.
Now, you have to draw a line on how many guests to invite, and decide on who and who should or should not be invited. In this post, I will show you a way to trim down your number of guests without feeling guilty and also ensure that everyone that really matters is invited. Read on.
3-Step Wedding Etiquette For Trimming Down a Wedding Guest List
Now, get out a pen and be ready to cross out some names until you have the number of wedding guests that match your budget. Here are simple wedding etiquette guidelines to help you establish the boundaries to trim down your wedding guest list:
STEP 1: Cut Down the Number of Relatives to ‘Firsts’
If you have a large immediate family (like ‘all’ Nigerians do), make the cut at aunts, uncles and first cousins.
- No distant relatives such as distant cousin/ aunt/ uncle. No ‘friend of relatives.
- No second, third cousins, etc.
- Don’t invite relatives who are not in your life presently. Remove names of distant relatives you don’t know, have never met, or have not spoken to in the past 6 months; or don’t see regularly
- Any relative you know but haven’t seen/ spoken to or heard from in the past six months to one year, even if they invited you to their own wedding in the past;
The Exception: If a relative/ family member is funding the wedding, allow them to invite a bit more guests.
STEP 2: Reduce the Number of Friends of Bride and Friends of Groom
You don’t have to invite anyone just because you attended the same school or live(d) in the same neighborhood. Well, you actually can if your budget is big enough to feed them all. Look at your friends and your fiancé’s friends inside your wedding preliminary guest list.
Remove names of anyone you’re no longer in touch with; don’t call often; don’t visit; don’t see regularly or talk to, even if they invited you to their own wedding in the past. Here’s a guide on who not to invite in this category:
- Anyone you haven’t seen or spoken to in the past 6 months to a year;
- Any name you delay and deliberate whether or not to delete;
- Friends of your friends or co-workers of your friends – they are not your friends
- Any friend you see only at parties or events organized by your mutual friends – meaning that they’re your friends’ friends and not ‘your friend’;
- Anyone who you are likely to forget who they are in the next 5 to 10 years from now, and could be wondering who is this or that person in your wedding photo
- The exes: Don’t invite your ex-boyfriend unless your fiancé agrees to it. Likewise, his ex-girlfriend(s) should only be invited if you (bride) agree to it.
The Exception: Your married and engaged guests will come to your wedding with their significant other, whether you send them an invitation card that specifies it admits only one person or not – and the unplanned guests may rob the “real” invited guests of the small available food. So, here’s what to do:
- Add one extra guest to every married and engaged guest on your invite list. So their invitation cards should be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Lagbaja.
- For engaged guests or those in a long term relationship, if you haven’t met the person’s significant other or heard much about them, then you are not obligated to extend an invitation card to them.
- If you plan to have a strictly-by-invitation wedding, do not allow single guests to bring dates (be sure to specify that their invitation card only admits one person) – only give engaged and married guests should be allowed to bring an extra guest.
- Add an extra guest to each bridesmaid and groomsmen – give them the honour of bringing a company, even if they’re not involved in a relationship. Be sure to specify that on their invitation cards (e.g. ‘this invitation card admits two persons’);
- Invite the parents of your flower girls and ring bearer
STEP 3: Reduce the Number of Co-Workers and Business Acquaintances
If you have lots of office colleagues, it sure would be nice to invite them all. But when your catering budget cannot accommodate everyone, you need to cut down the guest list. The fact is that you’re not obligated to invite someone just because you work in the same office or have done business together.
- Ask yourself: If the company where you both work closes down tomorrow, would you still be friends with them? Apart from the job, what other business do you have in common? If the answer is “nothing”, remove their name from the guest list.
- Don’t invite anyone you meet only at work and never socialize with outside the office, don’t invite them – they’re not your close friends;
- If 5 to 10 years from now, there’s a possibility that you will look at wedding pictures and wonder, “Who is this person?”, then remove their name from the guest list;
- If financial constraints won’t allow you to invite all your colleagues, it’s okay to let them know that the wedding is going to be an intimate affair with only your immediate family and that you don’t want to hurt their feelings. You’d be surprised that most people will understand. If you can afford it, show up at the office on Monday with a cake and drinks for your co-workers.
- If you don’t want everyone in your office to show up at your wedding when you didn’t budget for them, don’t hang your invitation card on the office notice boards!
The Exception: If your office is small and you’re close to all your colleagues, it’s appropriate to invite everyone (not appropriate to invite some and leave out some).
How to Use Number of Guests to Calculate Your Wedding Cost (and Venue Cost)
Sample Behind The Scenes of How Nigerian Families Make their Huge Wedding Guest List (Video Clip)
Why Most Nigerians Do Not Make a Guest List (Video Clip)
Not Convinced that You Should Not Invite Everyone to Your Wedding?
Stressed about how to not-invite some not-so-close colleagues who you’ll not miss if they don’t attend? Then ask yourself whether all those people will make your wedding day more special or simply blow your budget? Choose one!
Know that every additional person you invite will add to your overall wedding cost – every head-count increases the catering cost (food, drinks) and reception space. The difference between 100 and 130 wedding guests is a bigger hall that may cost about 30 percent more, as well as an additional 30 percent cost on food and drinks.
So, if you have a tight budget, a smaller wedding will be suitable and it can be elegant too. After all, the essence of inviting guests is to have family members and close friends as ‘witnesses’ to your wedding – not about inviting everyone you know. Weddings are intimate, meant for family and close friends … and your third cousin from out-of-state will eventually forgive you for not receiving an invite.
8 Wedding Reception Planning Mistakes in Nigeria & How to Avoid Them
Conclusion and Recap: Reducing the Guest List Number
Cutting down the wedding guest list is one of the most stressful and dreaded parts of wedding planning, but once you get it done, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Don’t feel too bad about the people whose names you removed from the guest list. Just remember that Weddings are intimate affairs, meant for family and close friends. Your third cousin from your Mother’s village and that office colleague will eventually forgive you for not giving them invitation cards. So, focus on how best to make your wedding special.
When trimming down the number of wedding guests to invite, it’s best to apply the above rules across the board without making any exceptions, which may offend others. Note, however, to use your best judgment to make exceptions to the rules. Once you’re done reducing the name on the guest list, the next thing to do is to start addressing the invitation cards.
It can be difficult deciding who to remove from the list when preparing a guest list, and that is when our 3-step method (above) comes handy. Be sure to use it to your advantage.
That’s it on how to reduce down a wedding/ event guest list to the number of people you can afford to feed. Thanks for reading. Comment below to let me know your thoughts on this topic.
THANK U VERY MUCH, PLANNING A VERY SMALL WEDDING IN SMALL FEW MONTHS TO COME NOW I HAVE AN IDEA, AM GRATEFUL
Stella Anokam says
It’s my pleasure, Rebecca.
Good write up, permission to share your post while i reference you.
Stella Anokam says
Thanks, Olumide. Sorry, we have copyright and do not allow re-posting of our full articles/ work on other websites (our policy). The type of referencing we permit is mentioning us with a link to the full article. If you really like our work, you can share only our post links on your social media or your website with a mention of a sentence or two from the post. That’s the type of permission we give. Thanks for stopping by.
Nice suggestions. Very nice. I also want to suggest the couple don’t put it on social media like Facebook. If they do, all efforts to cut down the number will be fruitless.
Stella Anokam says
Thanks, Abayomi. You’re very correct about that – putting your wedding invitation or date on Facebook or Instagram is automatically asking everyone to come, and you better be ready to feed more people than you cooked for; and your venue better be big enough. And, it’s no longer classy to have a too-big, owambe style wedding where you did not plan for such a big crowd.