Probably no other part of wedding planning is the reason for as much frustration and ill-will as the guest list. Just who will be present to participate in the big event is the one area that no family has ever been able to fully agree on. Even if all the money in the world is available for the wedding, there are still budgets established. Most of the time some of the prospective guests never actually make it onto the final guest list. And guess what? As upsetting as it may beat the time, eventually those who are not invited will recovery.

When should the couple put together the guest list? Although it doesn't have to be set in stone, a fairly approximate head count is needed early on in the wedding planning stage. The number of guests invited to your wedding will have a considerable effect on your wedding budget. Remember, they're your guests and you'll need to accommodate each and every one of them! Things that you need to take into consideration is the size of the both the location of the wedding ceremony and reception, the cost of wedding invitations and possible location of overnight accommodations for out of town guests. On average, budget $25 per person to cover food.

If you do not plan to elope you will want friends and relatives to share this your special day with you. Start of the guest list with those who have to be included such as you and your mate and your immediate families. Please take note that I said 'immediate' and not 'extended' family. Mothers, fathers, step-parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents are absolute musts, unless personal situations dictate otherwise. According to the above estimate, you're already spending about $300 for food just on this group! This is a good time to rethink the number of guests that you were considering.

It is tradition to have wedding attendants and they should be added to the guest list next. The next group of guests to be added to the list is the wedding attendants. Traditionally, weddings have at the very least a maid or matron of honor and the best man. After these two, the number of bridesmaids and ushers is your individual decision. But remember, even though the attendants will be paying the costs for their attire, the number of wedding attendants will have an impact on your budget. Why? First, they'll be at the rehearsal dinner and they'll expect to eat for free. Second, the bride and groom traditionally give each of the attendants a gift as a way of showing their appreciation, so the more attendants, the more gifts you buy. And something that's not always considered, a large number of attendants may increase your transportation costs.

With the basics established, it's time to add friends, co-workers, extended family members, your parents' friends and business associates, your realtor, the butcher, and on and on. Place everyone you are considering inviting on your guest list. At this point it is time to reduce the list to a manageable size. With the use of a red pen, begin cutting until your arrive at that magical number you desire.