Most Nigerian weddings are planned with the budget in mind but without a clear guest list. No wonder we can’t stop seeing weddings where the food and drinks do not get to all invited guests and/ or the venue is too small for the number of people. At such weddings, many things go wrong. Making a wedding guest list will save you money and also make your wedding look classy. There are more benefits to writing a guest list. Swipe or scroll down to continue reading.
‘Is a wedding guest list really necessary for a Nigerian wedding? Isn’t it okay to just fix a random number of people I want to invite? Why should you make a guest list and when is the best time to make it? What do I stand to lose or gain if I make a guest list?’ Those are some of the questions I get asked by about-to-wed Nigerian couples when I tell them to first write a guest list before contracting out their wedding catering (food and drinks) or printing their wedding invitation cards, or even before renting the reception venue. In this post, I’ll answer all those questions and more – to help you decide whether to make a guest list or not. Swipe/ scroll down to read on.
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.
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, and there are many benefits to doing so. Below are our 5 reasons why you need to make a guest list.
1. Wedding Invitation Card Budget
The guest list will inform you how many invitation cards to order from the printer. 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.
- RELATED: Top Invitation Card Planning Questions: Our Answers
- Pre-Wedding-Planning Quiz for Engaged Couples (the best tool to flesh out wedding details)
- Nigerian Wedding Budget Calculator and Percentage Allocations
2. Food Budget
The guest list will inform you how many people to order food and drinks for, without over-ordering/ overspending. 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).
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. Below are some helpful articles on guest list planning:
- Why Nigerian Weddings Are Expensive and What to Do
- How to Use Number of Guests to Calculate Wedding Cost
- How to Make a Guest List
- Why You Should Trim Down Your Guest List (invite fewer people)
- How to Reduce Your Guest List to Number of Guests Your Budget Can Feed (i.e. to the number of people you can feed)
- Common wedding cake mistakes and how to avoid them
- How to Make Party Jollof Rice for 100 or More People
- How to Make Nigerian Party Doughnuts – 100 or more pieces
3. Wedding Venue Budget
Your guest list will inform you of the adequate size of the venue to rent. The physical size of a venue will determine the seating capacity/ how many people it can accommodate. When you go to any venue, you will be asked ‘how many guests are you having?’. They want to be able to show you the venue that can accommodate your number of guests. If you randomly fix the number of guests and more people show up, there would be no seat for some and the venue would be too crowded and stuff. Not cool.
How many chairs and tables do you need? Whether you’re going for an outdoor or indoor venue and need to rent tables and chairs, do you just want to say the number or do you want to tell the number of the people you have on your written-list?
We always advise that couples 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 (floor space) you require in a wedding venue (for the church ceremony and reception) you should rent, and wedding venues are charged by their sizes. With event venues, the bigger the space, the higher the cost. Remember this when you’re fixing a number on how many people to invite to your wedding.
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
The guest list will inform you how many souvenirs to buy, so you won’t have excess and overspending. 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. If you invite more guests, the total money required to buy souvenirs will increase. It’s not cool to hand souvenirs to some and deny others – so, trim your guest list to the number of guests you can provide for.
5. Overall Wedding Budget
Your guest list will inform you exactly how much your wedding will cost. 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.
- RELATED: How to Make Your Wedding Budget (Step by Step)
- Sample Nigerian Wedding Budgets and the Breakdowns
- Our Answers to Common Wedding Budget Questions
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.
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 way to cut down your wedding cost, 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.
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!
So, if you’ve read this far and now understand that it is important to make a wedding guest list and early during wedding planning, read my post on how to make a guest list. That post explains how to make your initial guest list and how to trim it down to match your wedding budget. Definitely check it out – highly recommended.
Does Your Guest Count Match Your Budget?
Usually, when a bride or groom tells me how much they have budgeted to spend at their weddings, I ask them how many people they are inviting. When they tell me, I ask ‘have you written a guest list?’, they go like this: ‘what’s a guest list?’. When I explain what a guest list is, I ask them how they arrived at their guest count or number of guests to invite. They usually tell me that they just guessed or they fixed it randomly. And my next question is usually: ‘does your guest list match your budget?’ or ‘have you checked whether your budget is enough to cater/ feed that number of people?’ How do you know you will not have more people than the food and drinks, than the venue you are providing?’
The response I usually get goes like this: ‘Oh, I don’t know’. So, if you’re a Nigerian and reading this, I am sure you’ve been to some overcrowded weddings where it was obvious that the couples randomly fixed the guest count instead of planning for the guest count.
MORE: 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 wedding budget, as every single additional guest adds to the cost for your entire wedding, by way of cost of food, drinks and reception space.
- Use our Wedding Planning Tools – to pre-plan your wedding and make a tight plan you can easily execute and track.
- Wedding Budgeting and Cost-Saving Ideas – get all our tips and advice to help you save costs, reduce cost and save money.
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?