If there's one thing renowned for causing drama and tension in the wedding planning process - it's the guest list.

writing the guest list

Finch & Oak Wedding Co.

Trying to keep your numbers in check without blowing the budget or getting offside with the in-laws is enough to send even the most sensible bride into a spin.

And while there's no simple solution, setting the boundaries from the beginning is a good place to start.

Once you've determined your budget - and chosen your venue accordingly - you'll be in a position to draft the guest list, unless of course, your budget is boundless in which case you can start with a list of everyone you'd ever dreamed of inviting then set about finding a venue (or a football field) to fit.

If numbers is the prevailing problem right from the outset, you might need to do the opposite and fix on a figure before you spend weekends traipsing between restaurants, function centres, country houses and marquee stores.

Of course politics always plays a part, and if your parents or in-laws-to-be are paying for the whole shebang, or a sizeable part of it, it's going to be pretty tough to tell them they can't invite their best friends/neighbours/great aunts or bridge partners.

And while you might not want your wedding to become the biggest day on the calendar for your folks' friends, discussing the numbers with them as soon as you've sorted your venue will allow plenty of time to plan.

Unless there's a blatantly obvious difference in the size of your families - one a la My Big Fat Greek Wedding and one, a party of five - then allocating a similar number of guests to each side will help keep relations on an even keel.

Ceremony Seating

One Love Photography

Or, you could follow the British trend and invite a select number of close friends and family to enjoy the sit-down meal at your reception - if you're having one - and then invite a wider group (perhaps including work colleagues or more distant rellies) to join you for drinks and dancing a little later on, if your venue allows.

One mistake many a bride has made is inviting a few long lost people from the family fold to please Mum or Dad - but secretly banking on them politely declining - then having a panic attack as the positive RSVPs keep rolling in. Assume that if you invite them, they will come.

It may seem obvious, but more than anything else, guests cost money. While your dress, the DJs and the cars all come with a set price tag, the guests don't. The more you have the more you'll see a spike in the cost of food and beverages, table centrepieces, chair decorations, bomboniere, serving staff.....shall we stop there?

Ultimately, you and your partner are the only ones who truly know whether Great Aunt Nellie will make your day that extra bit special - or not - or whether excluding your mother-in-law's back fence neighbour will come back to haunt you for years to come.

A bit of flexibility, compromise and open dialogue - from early on - goes a long way. Trying to madly find extra seats at the table at the 11th hour has tears and tantrums written all over it. Just don't go there!

Wedding Tip:

The easiest way to handle the wedding guest list is to put everyone down on paper first, allowing room for friends of your parents, then cull. Only you can decide if the people you are inviting will make the day more special or whether they are blowing the wedding budget.

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