Nigerian Wedding Planning Simplified: Guest List Creation Management and Follow Through

Planning a Nigerian wedding is a beautiful ride, filled with traditions, culture, and the excitement of celebrating with loved ones. But let’s be real – managing the guest list can be a bit of a headache.

Imagine this: You’re buzzing with anticipation for your wedding, but there’s also that nagging worry about who to invite, how to ensure your guest list doesn’t get too big, and how to manage it all. This guide is here to help you out.

We’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of guest list management for your Nigerian wedding with the top questions we see from our clients as well as other couples planning their weddings themselves, giving you practical tips and strategies to keep things running smoothly.

Let’s make this part of wedding planning a breeze so you can focus on the real fun – celebrating your big day with the people who matter most.

The Quest for the Perfect Guest List

Finding the balance between intimacy and grandeur is an art. Small weddings allow for more personal connections and attention to detail. The key is to prioritize immediate family and your closest friends and relatives., keeping the atmosphere warm and close-knit. This strategy often is difficult with Nigerian parents who often want to invite more guests than the budget can allow.

I always recommend starting the guest count and guest list conversation with parents before you start looking at venues or book any vendor. It’s important to set expectations early and allow them to see how directly an increase in guest count contributes to an increased budget and overall wedding day logistics.

When having the conversation, you can either give them a number of guests that they are allotted or ask them to start creating their guest list so you can take into account everyone they want to invite.

It can get tricky when you have parents who are paying for all or a large portion of your wedding but remember, it’s still your wedding day so try and meet in the middle.

Question 1: How does an increased guest count impact the budget?

An increased guest count significantly affects various wedding expenses including catering, decor, and the bar to name a few. Be prepared to adjust your budget accordingly and consider how each additional guest contributes to the overall experience.

The current cost per guest figure now is at least $275 per guest for a simple wedding but our clients spend, on average, $400 – $600 per guest. Take this into consideration when you’re adding guests. Adding an additional 5 guests may seem innocent but this will, without a doubt, increase your budget.

Question 2: What is an A/B guest list, and should I have one?

Answer: An A/B list is a way to try and manage total guest count numbers. The A-list includes must-invite guests, typically consisting of immediate family and close friends. The B-list comprises additional invites if space allows which is based on guests in the A-list not being able to attend. However, in Nigerian culture, it’s crucial to exercise caution with B-listing to avoid hurt feelings. This is because in order to have a B-list, you must send out those invitations at a different time so if anyone in your B-list knows guests in the A-list, they may find out.

I actually advise not having a B-list. Do not feel pressured to invite people. If they do not make the A-list then I advise leaving them off entirely. One quick rule of thumb is that if you would not miss them if they were not at your wedding, do not invite them. 

Question 3: What is the average percentage of guests who decline an invitation?

Answer: While it varies greatly due to factors like your wedding destination, the age of your guests, the time of year, etc., a decline rate of around 10% – 15% could be expected. Post pandemic this percentage has been harder to nail down. 

Do not use the decline rate as a way to invite more guests. I always advise clients that you should invite the amount of people your budget can allow because you never know how many people will decline until a month before the wedding. At that point, if you invited them, you now have to accommodate them. Always base your total guest count number on your max budget number.

Guest List Creation Strategies

Question 4: How can I create a manageable guest list for my Nigerian wedding?

Answer: To create a manageable guest list, start with a rough list with just names and the total number you’re inviting in their party. Categorize guests into tiers of importance. Set a clear limit for each tier or a max guest count number. It’s entirely acceptable to prioritize quality over quantity. From there, go through the list and make cuts as necessary.

Remember, any guest who is married or engaged should receive a plus one (their spouse).

Question 5: Do I need to include my wedding vendors in my guest count?

Answer: Yes and no. Vendors who are staying for the reception (photographer, caterer, DJ, etc) are not included in the guest count for sitting at your reception tables but you do have to provide a meal for them so they should be accounted for as “vendor meals” with your caterer. Venues that have an in-house bar also often add your vendor count as a separate line item to the bar because they assume that vendors may want a non alcoholic beverage at some point during the night. The vendor line item should be less than a guest.

Coworkers on the List: 

Question 6: Do I need to invite coworkers to my Nigerian wedding?

Answer: The choice of inviting coworkers is ultimately yours. Consider your relationship with them and how they fit into your guest list strategy. It’s important to focus on inviting those who genuinely matter to you. Don’t feel pressure to invite your boss either. You want to be able to truly let your hair down at your wedding and not have to worry about co-workers.

Question 7: If I had to cut your guest list, what is a strategy to do so?

New Answer: Trimming the guest list can be challenging due to cultural emphasis on extended family and community ties but do not be shy to state your preference for a smaller guest size where you prioritize your closest family and friends. Consider excluding distant acquaintances and communicate with your parents the guests that need to be cut. 

A Strategy for Getting RSVPs From All Guests 

Question 8: What to expect with guests and the RSVP deadline?

Answer: Clearly communicate your RSVP expectations and deadline with guests in multiple forms (your wedding website, save the date, invitation, emails, text, etc.). Be understanding of guests who may not respond promptly and follow up with guests via text or phone calls so you can confirm final numbers with your vendors.

For our clients, we contact every single guest who has not provided their RSVP by the deadline. This is so we have the most accurate guest count number, and we can properly execute the wedding day. 

How to Plan for Guest List Issues That May Arise on the Wedding Day

Question 9: How do I handle unexpected wedding guests on the wedding day?

Answer: It’s not uncommon for unexpected attendees to show up. Having a plan of action before the wedding day is important. 

You have a couple of options:

Option 1: Deny access to guests who have not RSVP’d by the deadline. If you choose this option, you will have to have a guest check in process.

Wedding Reception Dance Bride Groom Guests Share Moment

Option 2: Have extra tables (I normally recommend about 5% -10% extra seating) for guests who didn’t RSVP but show up.

You could also do a mix of the two where you have extra seating to a point and still do guest check in. Once you’ve filled up the extra seats, no additional guests who did not RSVP will not be allowed in.

Question 10: Should I assign guests to a table for the reception or allow them to sit wherever they want?

Answer: Assigning guests to tables for the reception can streamline the seating process and ensure that everyone has a designated place to enjoy the festivities. This approach aligns with the desire to create an organized and harmonious atmosphere. It also allows your guests to sit quicker so the reception starts and alleviates any issues where families who want to sit together can’t find the right amount of seats to do so.

As you dive into the exciting task of planning your Nigerian wedding, managing the guest list can indeed be a bit of a challenge. But fear not and remember, your guest list is an integral part of creating a memorable celebration. Prioritize the people who matter most, communicate openly with your loved ones, and stay flexible when the unexpected happens.

So, as you embark on this exciting adventure, let’s keep the focus on what truly matters – celebrating your big day with the people who bring joy and love to your life. Cheers to simplifying the guest list journey and creating unforgettable memories!

If you found this useful, visit our Wedding Venue Selection blog to learn more about finding your perfect wedding venue.

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