Guest List: Start with two separate lists - one for the Day 'do' & one for the Evening 'do' and be clear exactly who is coming to each, or both
It is normal to have close family, close friends and close relatives for the Wedding Breakfast (the Day 'do') and wider family, friends, work colleagues etc for the Evening 'do' and Buffet, Disco etc.
You then have the main meal, the Wedding Breakfast, for far fewer people than the evening meal or Buffet.
How many can you afford to have overall?
How many can you afford to invite for the Wedding Breakfast?
How many do you want for the evening buffet?
Set a limit on the number of guests for the Bride and the Groom - a limit for each.
It is traditional for the Bride to have the higher proportion of guests.
Your list should be on a spreadsheet, with surname appearing first for alphabetical sorting and removal of duplicates.
Sit down separately and compile two sets of guests lists. Start with two lists from the Bride - one for the Day List and one for the Evening List, and two lists from the Groom - one for the Day List and one for the Evening List.
You may assume your 'Day' guests will also be present in the evening. But some Day Guests may not 'last' or wish to stay on for the Evening do. A wedding that can start at 11.00 am and finish after midnight is a long day for some.
While the majority of guests invited for the 'Day List' will attend, being close friends and relatives, many on the 'Evening List', your less close friends and acquaintances, may not show up. In some cases we have known 70% or more of the evening guests not showing up - despite coaches being laid on for them.
If you are on the regular tariff however, you can add up your Day List and check this number is within your budget for the Wedding Breakfast. If not, select which guests you can move to the Evening list. Creating this list will really help you budget for your Wedding Breakfast catering and your Evening Buffet.
Remember that catering can account for around 50% of your Wedding Budget. So it is important to be highly accurate on your guest lists both for the day and the evening.
Craig Y Nos Castle has noticed some couples over estimating attendance for the evening buffet which, when combined with some non attendance by evening guests, has resulted in wastage of food and money laid out for the evening buffet.
To minimise wastage, ask for RSVPs to invitations and a couple of weeks before, have someone do a last minute telephone check on who is coming. You could then introduce two additional columns to your spreadsheet: 'RSVP Rcvd' , and 'Telephone Confirmation done'.
It is worth getting someone to do this for you.
Provided you let the caterers know in time (giving at least 6 days notice) you may be able to amend your catering commitments. On the day it will be too late as a caterer will have to charge you per meal prepared, whether or not consumed.
Also, when booking your wedding, it can pay to be a little 'conservative' on your numbers. You can always INCREASE numbers nearer the date (within reason - allow enough time for additional food to be ordered by the caterers). A problem you can experience when DECREASING numbers too near to the date of the wedding is that you may incur a cancellation charge on the reduction in the contract value of your booking with the venue. No venue will mind you increasing numbers nearer the date, but they may object to you reducing numbers near the date.