Sometimes we get caught up with the hustle and bustle of designing your main event that we overlook one of the most important elements of the wedding - making sure people attend!
So today we talk a little bit about staying organized throughout the invite process, and making sure that the last month of your planning doesn't turn into a logistical nightmare.
The invitation process can have almost a domino effect to your planning if not executed correctly. It has to start from yourself and your spouse-to-be, and your respective families. So here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. It's never too early to get a guest list going. Of course, having rough numbers is good, but having a clear picture of who is actually on the list also affects how big of a venue you need to book and how much budget you have to host all these people. Booking your venue thereafter will determine pretty much everything else in your planning. It sets the tone. So as early as you can, write down those names, consult your parents and compile your guest lists together!
2. Don't leave the address collecting to the last minute. When your guest list is complete, fill in everyone's addresses accordingly. Note down how many babies and kids there are (as this will affect your final bill - kids meals are usually greatly reduced in cost!). Sometimes this can take a while, so you don't want to leave it to the day before your invitations are supposed to go out!
3. Expect about an 80% RSVP ratio (if most of the people are in town). This varies party to party - sometimes 50% of the guests are from out of town, but make it anyway, for example. But let's say you are hosting the wedding locally, as you and your fiance are born and bred here, and all your guests are within a 1-2 hour drive away, and your wedding is on a Saturday, then you can pretty much assume that most of them will attend. If it's a destination wedding, expect about a 40% or less response rate.
4. Consider your final RSVP count into your budget. Several people budget for their guest list, which is nice and safe. But don't freak out before realizing that your 250 guest list may turn out to be 220 or 210 confirmed guests because of the "no's". That's potentially thousands of dollars of difference.
5. Order your invitations at least 1-2 months prior to sending them out. You don't want to pay rush shipping, so plan this accordingly.
6. If budget is a concern, make sure you have a good rule about the +1's. Usually a significant other that has been in the picture for at least 6-8 months is worthy of an invite. Or that one friend that doesn't really fall into any social circle - he should probably be allowed to bring a guest. But otherwise, have criteria of who actually gets a +1 and who doesn't.
7. Send out your invitations at least 2 months prior to the wedding, and set a reasonable RSVP deadline to account for those who just don't respond. Venues usually want to discuss final guest numbers (for catering and invoicing purposes) about 3 weeks to 1 month out, so you want to have a good idea at least 5-6 weeks out. Give yourself a week also to follow up on all those no-responses.
8. Finally, expect last minute changes. There hasn't been a wedding thus far we have executed that didn't have a last minute change to the confirmed guest list - either guests attending or not attending. The key is to inform your banquet manager/wedding coordinator as soon as humanly possible to make sure they can accommodate the changes.