Follow These Tips When Finalizing Guest Lists & Seating Charts

Ian RamirezWedding Planning, Wedding TipsLeave a Comment

Over the course of your wedding planning, one factor that will almost certainly impact your budget is the guest list. For instance, your caterers generally dictate their price based on the guest count numbers. And once your guest list is set in stone, it will then be time to finalize your seating charts for the wedding reception. In the end, as is the case with many different aspects of wedding planning, it never hurts to have some expert advice to ensure every part runs smoothly. It’s safe to say that mindset is no different with guest lists and seating charts.

For anyone visiting our blog for the first time, we welcome you to Madera Estates! Located nearby Houston and The Woodlands, Madera Estates is a Spanish and European-inspired luxury event space. Whether it be an outdoor ceremony in front of the Grand Fireplace, a candle-lit reception inside the Hacienda or anything else, our team has always taken pride in making dream weddings come to life. If you are engaged and searching for your dream wedding venue near Houston, we would be delighted to show you around Madera. To get started, all you need to do is select a time that works best for you on our online booking calendar. After that, you’ll have the opportunity to check out the venue and ask any questions you may have. 

With that all being said, today’s blog will focus solely on guest lists and seating charts. We’ll discuss a few helpful tips for this part of your wedding planning to ensure it doesn’t cause any unneeded stress. 

Have a number in mind early

Whenever a couple books with Madera Estates, they are granted access to our client portal. While this portal contains a number of helpful resources, one that many of our clients find particularly useful is the “Wedding Planning Timeline & Guide.” This guide walks couples through month-by-month the various tasks they should be checking off their to-do list. With so many moving parts, this can be a terrific way to stay organized. 

In terms of a guest list though, you’ll notice that it appears fairly early on in the timeline. In fact, you’ll want to have a rough estimate of how many people you want to invite around the same time that you’re touring venues. Do you need to have the finalized list at this time? Probably not, but it would definitely be a good idea to know how many people are “must-invites,” along with an approximation of guests that you would “like to invite.” Considering that your venue selection impacts so many other future decisions, you’ll want to have a general number in mind ahead of time to ensure the venue can accommodate that many people. The last thing you want to do is be making tough decisions later on for who you need to cut off the list. Trust us, that is some stress you definitely don’t need in your life!

When should you finalize the seating chart

Since we just discussed estimated timelines for finalizing your guest list, we thought here would be a great time to also talk about finalizing your seating chart. While the guest list may require some tough decisions, drafting a seating chart should be a little easier to manage. You’ll know who gets along with who, who is related to who and can arrange the seating chart accordingly. 

When should you aim to have the seating chart completely finalized? Typically, we would recommend a couple weeks out from the big day. However, keep in mind that this is largely dependent on what kind of display you plan on having. If you browse through Pinterest or Etsy, you’ll notice there are plenty of options to pick from. With that in mind, you can start brainstorming ideas ahead of time and get a general timeline of how long it’ll take to get made. Anyone that’s helped plan a wedding knows there is also always the possibility of some last-minute cancellations. If this were to happen the week of your own wedding day, just remember that an empty seat really isn’t much of a concern in the grand scheme of things.

Don’t wait until the last minute

Believe it or not, but many decisions in the planning process are going to be dependent on your guest count (and most will also have financial implications as well). Specifically speaking, your caterer is likely going to want a head count. In the first section, we discussed having a general guest count estimate, but here we’re talking about solidifying those numbers. In most cases, couples look to start sending out wedding invitations about 2-3 months in advance of their wedding date. In the invitation, you can request for RSVP’s to be returned roughly 6 weeks out. Even though most guests will follow these requests, you may have some still sitting out there. Rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt and waiting for the RSVP to come through, go ahead and reach out to them directly. This way you can get that piece finalized and continue on with the planning process.

Other elements to consider

Thus far in this blog post, we’ve talked a lot about logistics. Whether that be the timelines to abide by or how the guest count impacts other decisions, there’s no denying that your guest count is one of the more important decisions you’ll have to lock in. Nonetheless, it’s a little tough to have a blog about guest lists and seating charts without mentioning who the actual people are that make up this list! 

The flexibility you have here is largely dependent on the budget you’ve established. If it’s going to be a massive celebration and money isn’t a worry, you can invite some of those borderline guests. However, if you’re going with more of an intimate wedding, there might not be as many seats available past family members. Furthermore, you’ll need to decide on how you plan on splitting up the open spots. Are you going to divide it up 50-50 between the bride’s side and the groom’s side? If your parents are footing the bill for the wedding, will they have spots for some of their friends to attend? How about inviting kids to the wedding? You’ve likely seen plenty of weddings that allow children to attend, while others restrict that. All of these are questions you’ll want to answer early on before you start drafting that initial guest list. As long as both sides are in agreement though, establishing the guest list can easily be a stress-free process!

Ready to Tour Madera Estates?

While finalizing guest lists and seating charts can certainly be challenging tasks at times, planning ahead is a great way to alleviate any unnecessary stress that may arise later on. Just as we mentioned earlier in this blog, you’ll want to have a general number in mind for the guest count early on. This will help you with budgeting for things like the catering options, as well as determining which venues can meet your needs. If you have a rough estimate for your guest count and are looking for wedding venues near Houston, we would be more than happy to show you around Madera Estates. Click HERE to select a time to meet with one of our wedding professionals and see the space in-person.

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