How does this play into the theme, you might ask? What does it matter if I’ll have 10 people at my event, or 100? Well, unless your budget and your space is unlimited, the number of guests in attendance is crucial to the planning of your event. You may have your heart set on a fancy sit-down dinner for 200, but if your backyard only has enough room for half that many seated, you may have to plan on serving cocktails and appetizers instead, or cut your guest list in half. Similarly, if your budget is only $1000, you can invite 10 people and spend $100 on each, or 100 people and spend $10 on each.
Not surprisingly, the less people you expect to have, the more elaborate a theme you can have. Consider favors – just a small part of a wedding or other event. With a $250 favor budget, you can give 200 people a handful of jordan almonds wrapped in tulle, or 10 people personalized sterling silver charms.
You can still have the same general theme – say, bohemian wedding – if you have 15 guests or 150. You may still have the same basic costs – like DJ, coordinator, photographer, lighting, and paper goods – but your per-person budget will determine how many beautiful themed details you can include. The more guests you have, the less you can spend per person.
Your expected guest list also helps determine your exact venue – if you absolutely must have room for 300 wedding guests, the back room at your favorite restaurant probably can’t hold them. But if you’re having a small wedding celebration with just a dozen close family and friends, there’s no reason to rent a ballroom.
If your venue is set – say, your home – you’ll need to know the number of guests early on for planning the flow of traffic. In our living room and kitchen, we typically can’t fit more than four comfortably. But for my husband’s board game birthday party, we removed all the excess furniture, set up a bunch of small chairs, and transformed our kitchen into an appetizer serving space. It was tight, but we enjoyed the company of eight of our closest friends (and could have probably fit another couple or two!).
One of my favorite recent examples of the importance of knowing your guest list is the Cinderella-Inspired Birthday on Hostess with the Mostess. The party host admits that cutting down the guest list was hard – for her daughter’s previous birthday she’d invited over sixty kids – but was able to make a beautiful, lavishly-decorated party with elaborate gift bags for just ten guests. “This year, ten girls was just perfect!” she says. Had she tried to plan the same party for even twice that many guests, it would have turned out very differently; from the setup of the party space to the gift bags, she would have had a completely different party. This is not to say it wouldn’t have been lovely – or that you shouldn’t invite every last one of your friends to your next bash – but the number of people you invite will always be a consideration for your space, your budget, and the scope of your party.