You're Engaged. First Step: Hire a Planner? Nope.

Congratulations, you’re engaged!!!  It is such an exciting time full of love, joy, happiness, family and sometimes stress. Stress?!  Wait, can a wedding planner admit to you that this can be a stressful time?! Well, I like to be honest…and yes it can be stressful.  Balancing your desires as a couple with the desires of both your families can become the biggest lesson in diplomacy and tact you will ever have.   

So, now that you have the love of your life, what should you do first?  Get a venue?  Lock in a date?  Hire a planner?  I bet you think I am going to tell you to hire a planner first.  And, I probably should, but that “honesty thing” keeps winning out.  Here’s my little tip that will help set you up for success over the next 12 months, 5 months, 30 days or however much time you have to plan your special day:  Get your GUEST LIST done ASAP! 

I know what you’re thinking-there is absolutely no way a wedding planner is telling you to not seek me out first, and instead write down a tedious list of people you’d like present on your special day.  Yes, the guest list.  And, I don’t mean random sheets of paper and colored sticky notes with names of you and your parents’ friends.  I mean a legit spreadsheet or ten-page, handwritten list incorporating EVERY PERSON you can think of who would come.  Sounds easy, right?  NOT!  I promise you will likely find one person (ahem, or parents) who don’t comply with this urgent request and you will need to “shake the rug”, “light a fire” or basically force everyone to comply.  

Why is this guest list so important?  I mean, it’s just a group of everyone you know…but this can be extremely difficult. Simple answer:  every guest invited can possibly add anywhere from $50-$125 per guest to your budget.  Does that get your attention?  If not, I promise as you start to look at costs for photographers, videographers, venues, and everything else…that suddenly, this amount will matter to you.  It will really matter to you.  The guest list comprises the biggest expenditure of a wedding.  All your decisions should be made after your guest list is figured out. 

The blanket rule of thumb for me is 80% of your guests will attend.  For the past 20 years, that 80% has proved true for most of my clients.  But, to double check this percentage, add a column for a “Yes, No or Maybe” and the number of people per family that could come.  Then, tally up the “yeses” to get a decent idea of your base and then add 80% of the “maybes” to this total. 

Questions to help determine if someone should be on your guest list: 

  • Have you spoken to them more than twice this past year? 

  • Do you reach out to this person(s) more than twice a year? 

  • Have you met with this person(s) more than twice in the past year? 

  • Do you have a close, personal family connection with this person(s)? 

  • What kind of value are they going to add to your day? (Sentimental, added fun, rekindled friendships, new relationships, etc.) 


Once you have this list worked over at least twice, then you can move forward and YES, hire a planner. Your planner will be able to make amazing recommendations based on your anticipated count and help you plan a realistic budget.  And, trust me, a realistic budget is a blog post for another day. 

At the end of the day remember, this is about the joining of your families and the love the two of you celebrate for each other.  Don’t lose sight of that during this process.  Love makes the world go ‘round, celebrate, enjoy it and have fun!  Let me know if you need any help!