Wedding Guest List: Why and When To Make One for Your Nigerian Wedding?

This post answers the top questions I receive on the topic of wedding guest list and invitation cards planning, and starts our series on wedding invitations and planning for the wedding reception. It’s common for brides-to-be to get excited about being newly engaged and start to verbally invite everyone they know to their wedding. Don’t make that mistake because later, you cannot un-invite some people in the event that you discover that your wedding budget can only accommodate a few of the people you previously invited. Instead, first, make a guest list to know your limit.

The wedding reception is where most of your wedding expenses will go to (up to 40% or more of your overall budget) – the venue, decor, food, drinks, etc. To get an idea of the different percentages of the overall wedding budget that each part of a wedding usually takes, check out our wedding budget calculator for weddings in Nigeria.  The bulk of your wedding reception cost is controlled by the number of guests you’ll have at your wedding/ If you invite more guests, you’ll require more money for your wedding reception budget, and vice versa.

So, making a guest list (in advance) will help you to guestimate how much your Nigerian wedding will cost. Planning your wedding guest list is critical to your getting your budget right – gives an idea of the size of the hall and quantity of food & drinks you require, as well as how much you need to budget for the invitation card. It’s never too early to start making your guest list. Start right now – today!

why when to make guest list

5 Reasons to Make a Wedding Guest List Early

It’s important to decide how many guests you want to invite and also write your guest list, early in the wedding planning process. Typical Nigerian weddings have a lot of guests, and so expect your wedding reception to consume over 40% of your entire wedding budget. Therefore, if you are looking for a wedding to make your wedding cost less, reduce your guest count and you’ll have a lower overall wedding cost.  That is why we advise that brides set a guest count and make a guest list early on, and let your guest number match your budget.  As Nigerians, we had been used to boasting about the many guests that came to our weddings, and we see brides always talking of their guest counts without thinking if their budget can cater to that number. We have seen brides who dream of having 200 guests and have N200k to plan the entire wedding (outfits, food and drinks, venue and every other thing).  Read on to find out more reasons why making a guest list is very important.

#1. Wedding Invitation Card Budget

When planning a wedding, creating a guest list is one of the first and most important things to do. You want to have a clear idea of how many invitation cards to print or order, and you also want to make a list of the people who you will address invitation cards to. In other words, you want to know how much to set aside as your wedding invitation cards budget. Besides, when you have a guest list, it’s possible to delegate other people to use the information on that list to write your wedding invites – so that you can get some rest or get busy on other wedding things to do in your wedding checklist.

#2. Food Budget

Your guest list also helps you estimate your food budget – after all, the headcount at your reception is the biggest cost in your wedding budget. Start by deciding how much money you can afford to spend per guest on food at the reception, and use that amount to determine the number of guests you can invite. You need to have an answer when your wedding caterer or cake baker asks you “how many people” you want them to prepare the food for – so as to calculate your bill. Establish your reception food budget, and stick to it.

#3. Wedding Venue Budget

Make a guest list before choosing a wedding venue. Usually, event venue coordinators will ask “how many guests are you expecting?” – to get an idea of the room size and price to offer you. The wedding guest list gives you an idea for the size and budget of the wedding venue (for the church ceremony and reception) you should rent, and wedding venues are charged by their sizes. You should first come up with at least a number for your guest list before you start visiting the possible ceremony and reception sites – a guest list guides you on the size of the venue to choose, as well as how much to set aside for your wedding food budget. You don’t want to invite 300 hundred people to a reception venue that can only seat 200 people; you certainly don’t want to invite 300 people to a small church that will only seat 100 people.

#4. Wedding Souvenir Budget

Your wedding guest list will also give you an idea of the number of wedding souvenirs and favours to buy, as well as how much to budget for that.

#5. Overall Wedding Budget

When brides and grooms are looking for how to cut down their wedding budget to what they can afford, wedding planners always point them to look in the direction of their guest list, which controls up to 40% of how big or small the entire wedding budget is. Here’s the fact, when you trim down your guest list, you will realize a significant reduction in your total wedding expenses.

More on the Importance of Planning Your Guest List

If you’re like most brides, compiling your guest list that matches your budget can be challenging — unless you have an open-ended budget and an unlimited size reception space. The only reason you will skip making a wedding guest list first is if you will be happy to see some guests leave hungry because the food finished, or fanning themselves because the hall was too tight and hot. As impossible as that sounds, those types of wedding reception mistakes are real and common in Nigeria and I’m sure you’ve probably seen them before.

Apart from knowing who and who to add to your guest list, you also need to decide who should have a say in the process of compiling the guest list. Some common-sense rules apply when deciding how many guests to allow particular groups of people (such as the parents, your office colleagues, schoolmates). One such rule is that anyone or a side of the family that contributes a huge amount to the wedding or pays for the entire event should be allowed to invite more people. However, ensure to negotiate the guest count with them (in case they ask to be allowed to invite more people). Also, before setting the size of your guest list or guest count, be sure it was mutually agreed between you and your fiance.  Taking our fun pre-wedding planning quiz for couples is a great way to flesh out details and specifics with your significant other, in a way that is not boring.

Finally, ensure sure to keep your guest list size within your set wedding budget – every single additional guest adds to the cost for your entire wedding, by way of cost of food, drinks and reception space.

Wedding Guest List Planning Takeaway

That’s our top 5 reasons why it’s critical to draw up a guest list early, and to use your budget (not by guessing) to determine the maximum number of guests you can cater to.

Now, it’s your turn to talk back to me in the comments – have you decided how many people you want to have at your wedding? If so, how did you arrive at the number?

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About Stella Anokam

Stella is the founder and Editor of this blog (NaijaGlamWedding). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Submit your photos to be featured - it's FREE, because we love everything weddings, bridal showers, engagement shoots.


  1. Kene Ejiofor says

    This is so detailed and articulate. Easy relate to, easy to apply…
    Way to go guys!

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