Before you schedule any tours to look at potential venues, you and your fiancé should come up with an initial guest list. The list will evolve throughout the wedding planning process, but it's good to have an idea of how many people you will be inviting so you can choose a venue that will comfortably accommodate all of your guests. The average number of guests attending a wedding in 2011 was 138. Your guest list will most likely depend on your budget. Obviously, the more people you invite, the more expensive your wedding will be.
When Matt and I made our initial guest list, we agreed that we wanted to keep it under 200 guests. With that in mind, we each came up with an individual list. As tempting as it may be to tell your fiancé not to invite his friend who constantly tells him he should be single, or his great aunt that you've always suspected doesn't like you, it's important to remember it's his big day too, and he should decide who he wants there. The exception to that rule is exes. Unless your future husband or wife and your ex are the best of friends (not likely), save yourself a lot of arguments and cross your ex off your list. (No, it doesn't matter that the two of you are just friends!)
To insure that I wouldn't forget anyone, I made separate lists of family, friends from high school, friends from college, family friends and church friends. Initially, I only wrote down immediate family. My mom's family is large and I didn't want to invite relatives who I had only met a couple of times at family reunions. If my cousins were married, I invited their spouse; If they were single, I didn't give them the option of inviting a date. (In a revised list, I allowed my cousins to invite dates.)
When choosing friends from high school and college to invite, I used the guideline that if the last time I saw them they were wearing a cap and gown, they were not making the list. When choosing whether or not to invite an old friend, it's important to think of your individual friendship with that person and how much of an impact that they've had on you. As I tried to whittle down my list, I realized that there were people on my list who hung out in the same group of friends that I did, but I never would have hung out with that person alone. If you're trying to cut down your guest list, that could be someone to cross off.
Getting engaged is an exciting time and you'll want to share your excitement. No matter how excited you are (or how many drinks you've had), don't text everyone on your contact list asking them if they'll be at the wedding. Trust me, it's the wine talking, not your budget! Avoid an awkward future situation and only share your excitement with the people that you're closest to.
After coming up with my initial list, I handed it to my parents. Since they are paying for a large portion of the wedding, I allowed them to have some input. That being said, it's important to remember that the day is about you, and you shouldn't be guilted into inviting someone that you don't want there, especially since weddings are so expensive and you can only invite so many people.
I made the mistake of telling some people who I was inviting, which led to disputes about why I was inviting some people and not inviting others. It's best just to keep quiet about who you are and aren't inviting. If someone asks if you're inviting a specific person, it's okay to tell them that you haven't come up with a final list and that you have a strict budget to keep in mind.
Throughout the planning process, Matt and I have both added and crossed off names on our initial lists. We also have both come up with a maybe list so if a number of guests can't come, we can send invitations to people who we wanted to invite, but didn't have the budget to include initially.
Having a large family and group of friends is a blessing, except when you're planning a wedding on a budget! When you're making those crucial decisions about who to invite, you just have to remember that your family and friends love you and they will understand that you can't invite everyone.