who gets invited to your wedding - wedding guest list- the cost of a North Carolina wedding

Wedding Guest Lists: Who Makes The Cut?

Let’s be honest, a wedding guest list is one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can turn over to our E’MAGINE Events & Co team to do for you.

Part of the stress involves two partners and two families working to rank the closeness of family and lifelong friends. Everyone is looking to see who can make the list when the maximum number of guests gets split in four ways. Not to mention that in some families with divorced parents, it might get broken down even farther.


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The dollars and cents of a wedding guest list

When people start to look at wedding venues, they often look at the catering package’s bottom line. Most multiply that by the maximum number of guests the site holds and pray that it works into their budget.

The reality is that the venue, food, and beverage portion of the average wedding is about 48-50% of your wedding budget for most people. And, if you are a foodie, it might be a little higher.


Here’s how that math breaks down!

Wedding stats say that the average North Carolina wedding is $33,000-$35,000 for a wedding of 100 people. So, half of that is $17,000, and dividing that by 100 people is $170.00! On the surface, that looks like an excellent catering budget – but it includes venue costs, food, beverage, service charge, and taxes. So, you might have $100.00 per person for dinner.

But, when we look at a per guest cost, we have to consider the added expenses of an invitation for that person, a slice of wedding cake, a portion of the cost for each table linen and centerpieces. Additionally, you might need to factor in any rentals like chairs, chargers, napkins, specialty china, or glassware. The list goes on.

Realistically, you might be looking at the cost of nearly $300 for each guest you invite to your wedding.


friends out to dinner - dinner with friends and coworkers- who makes the cut for the wedding guest list


Can we take you to dinner?

Sometimes we’ll say to our clients when creating their guest list- “is this someone you would say – hey let’s go to the movies? Or dinner? Do you wanna go with me to the beach for the weekend? or Let me treat you to dinner!”

If you wouldn’t invite them to go out to a nice dinner any other night of the year and pick up the tab, would you really want to pay for them to come to your wedding?


The battle’s not over.

One other challenge is the parent’s wanting to include people who used to be a big part of their life, but that you might not have seen since you were little. This is a case where you might have to pick your battles.

Inviting children to your wedding is another tough area. Kid’s catering packages don’t cost nearly as much as adults, but it adds up and can have other costs to factor in. There is never a clear-cut answer about including children in your wedding and may need a lot of discussions.


wedding guests - wedding guest lists - kids at weddings


Another hot topic is including a “+1” – that is allowing that single friend to invite a date du jour just to have someone on their arm. The costs are adding up, and it’s someone you don’t know, you decide!

This brings us to coworkers and casual friends. Obviously, the costs will add up, but you might want to take a look to see if this is someone you hang out with socially and are they, someone you see yourself close to in five years.

Yes, weddings are about family, friends, and relationships. But, when it comes to keeping within your wedding budget, you might have to spend some time breaking down the dollars and cents of who you invite.