Wediquette: Guest Lists, Vendors, and Budgets (Oh My!)

Seasoned planners weigh in on your most pressing wedding concerns.

Illustrations by Delphine Lee

My fiancé and I know that we can only invite a certain number of guests to the wedding. Any tips on how we can decide who makes the final cut? —Emily A.

“Keeping the head count down is one of the hardest parts of wedding planning. Everyone wants to avoid awkward situations where you discuss your wedding with people who aren’t receiving an invitation. But the reality is that it’s okay to not invite your coworkers, as well as people you met recently or haven’t spoken to in years. You also don’t have to give guests plus-ones. However, if you choose to not do plus-ones, be sure to use the same rules for all guests. It almost always backfires when one friend is allowed to bring a date but another isn’t. I always tell my clients to ask themselves, ‘Would I plan my wedding date around this person’s availability?’ If the answer is ‘Yes,’ that’s a must-have guest. From there, invite the people who mean the most to you and your fiancé.” —Sarah Glick, Brilliant Event Planning

Illustrations by Delphine Lee

Is hiring a wedding planner overkill if the venue you’ve chosen provides a coordinator? What does that venue coordinator actually do? —Sara R.

“Venue coordinators are fantastic, and will help you with day-of logistics, keeping a timeline, décor setup, and, most important, making sure food and service are expertly timed. They’re your go-to people from the ceremony to the last dance. When a bride or a groom hires an outside wedding planner, they are looking for someone to guide them through the entire planning process, including, but definitely not limited to, budgeting, vendor selection and organization, design and décor selection, timeline and task management, or even just to talk. Planners build very close relationships and focus on not only the big picture, but the minor details such as the embossed napkins of your dog or cat for cocktail hour, for example. Consider a wedding planner as a new friend and an investment!” —Bryan Finocchio, 33 Munroe

Illustrations by Delphine Lee

When selecting vendors, is it important to hire people who’ve worked at the venue before? How seriously should you consider a venue’s list of preferred vendors? —Jackie M.

“I vet vendors based on their experience, portfolio, personality, pricing, reliability, and availability. If they have familiarity with the venue, fantastic, but it’s not a prerequisite; it’s nearly impossible for vendors to work at every venue, and it would be unfortunate to miss out on excellent vendors because they haven’t worked at a specific [place] or the vendor search was limited to those on the venue’s list. A venue’s preferences and priorities may not align with the couple’s, so I advise clients to approach vendor lists cautiously. They can be a good starting point but should not replace a thorough vetting process. Ask how the venue selects vendors for its list, how often the list is updated, and if there is a fee associated with being on the list. Then, research the vendors independently. I recommend going to a vendor’s website and reading their ‘About’ page. Does something they share resonate with you? Look at the vendor’s portfolio and Instagram account, too. Then determine what your splurges are and where you’d prefer to save so when you request a call or a meeting, you are prepared to ask valuable questions.” —Tammy Golson Fallon, Tammy Golson Events

Illustrations by Delphine Lee

What are some unexpected planning costs that tend to pop up—things that people don’t consider, but should? —Scott K.

“The one thing I tell all my clients is to create an overall budget and then [allocate] an extra $5,000 for last-minute décor selections, hotel or bar upgrades, RSVPs, or transportation. The other big things to keep in mind are the taxes and administrative fees for vendors and venues. Those aren’t always initially included, but can add an extra $5,000 to $10,000 to your overall [cost]. So pay close attention to your contracts, ask any and all finance questions, and reach out to your wedding planner with any concerns.” —B.F.

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