craftylish: (sorry this is so long, but I share your pain & had to figure this out for our wedding too.) so you have to pay to rent the entire resort & rooms no matter what and you’d like to of course maximize the number of guests enjoying the rooms you’re paying for (so you aren’t paying for empty ones) while not overinviting because there’d be nowhere else for “extra” ppl to stay? is that right?
if so, we partially had a similar situation. our venue also has accommodations (30 rooms) and it’s exclusively ours for our wedding, including all rooms. our guests are reserving and paying for their rooms on their own, but we are responsible for the costs of any rooms that go unbooked. Our venue is able to host more guests for the wedding than can stay there in the 30 rooms. We, unlike you, did have other hotels in the area that we were able to make available to our guests (about 30 rooms), but we still had to stay under the venue’s max capacity for the ceremony and reception.
What we did- we started way early and had different rounds of invitations. For us, it wasn’t a b-list, c-list situation- it was more that we wanted to invite well over 200ppl and our venue only fit 120. We broke ppl up into groups of must invite and put ppl together with who they knew so ppl who knew each other wouldn’t be invited in different waves.
We sent email & mail save the dates at 11 mos out to must-invite guests that included all information- travel, rooms, let them rsvp starting right then on our site, etc. By the time we sent our first round of invites out (5 mos out), I think we had over 50-60% of our rsvps in already and we were already able to start adding more ppl to get invites. That first wave’s rsvps were due at 4 mos out and we gave more time to ppl as needed. We were then able to invite more & more ppl as we went along, with the final much smaller wave of invites going out 2 months before the wedding with their rsvp due-date 1 month before the wedding.
To have a better estimate of who’s coming, I suggest making an excel sheet of all your potential guest list. By every guest list the likelihood that they’ll come from definitely coming (1) to .75 to .5 to .25 to no chance of coming (0). Then have the excel sheet add the column up to see how many ppl you’re likely to have. If you’re nuts for excel like I am? Then you’ll also have a high and low column in which you list the absolute highest chance each person will attend and the absolute lowest.
With those estimates (which I updated as we went along & received rsvps) and our invitations in waves, we will not exceed our capacity (my biggest fear when starting out) and we only have a few rooms unbooked, so it looks like the venue might “write them off” so we don’t have to pay for the unbooked rooms at all. If the venue won’t write off the unbooked rooms, then we’ll have a few of our VIPs who have reservations at cheaper hotels stay in those rooms and pay the same amount they would’ve at cheaper hotel while we only have to pay the difference. We’ll have right around 100 ppl at our wedding & about 50 rooms booked total. You might have higher turnout because you’re paying for guests’ rooms, but our wedding is also in a very popular destination that our guests really wanted to visit.
I would not be offended to be in the 2nd wave of invites (especially because I wouldn’t even know if you did it right). Tips:
- put ppl into groups of who they know and do not break up those groups: so ppl who know each other are all invited at the same time
- vary rsvp dates as needed: do not write any rsvp date on any material or website going to every guest. set each rsvp date according to the time the guests will receive the invites. for this reason, we had our invites printed by a company & they were all the same, but we printed our rsvp inserts ourselves so we could change the dates.
- work backwards on timeline: we had to tell our venue final numbers at 1 month out, so we figured that we’d want final wave’s rsvps at 1.5-2 months out, so we had time to track down non-rsvpers. so we had to mail final wave invites at 2-3 months out. because we needed to know who of them we could invite by 3 months out & all must-invites had all the wedding info starting at 11 mos out, we sent must-invites out at 5 mos out with their rsvps due at 4 months out, so we had a full 1-2 months to track out non-rsvpers before we were trying to send out our last wave of invites.