How Much Does Your Guest Count Affect Your Budget?
Most of your wedding expenses depend on how many guests you have: Catering, rentals, favors, stationary, flower decorations, cake, even the venues since you’ll need a larger space to accommodate more people. I’d like to give you a hypothetical example of just how much your budget will be affected by the number of guests you invite.
Most couples want a good sized crown to help them celebrate their special day. In this example, you and your fiancé have decided that 150 guests would fill your desire for a good sized crowd. I’m going to show you how much can be saved by decreasing that number by a mere 25 heads. This, in my opinion, will not make your “good-sized” crowd not so “good-sized”. Your total wedding budget, including honeymoon, in this example, is $20,000.
I will discuss expenses on catering, rentals, decoration, favors, cake, and stationary. This article includes average price ranges in Ventura County, CA, an example price I have chosen, and how it all works out. If you’d like the short, less- likely-to-make-your-head-hurt version, there is a overall breakdown at the bottom of the page: Budget and Guests Overview.
Catering is priced per plate and the cost can be anywhere from $20 to $200 a head for a dinner reception. I’d say the average, however, falls in the $25 to $80 range. This is for food and service alone. The meals you’ve chosen are $50/plate. To feed 150 guests, your catering cost is $7500. (and don’t forget, your total head count will be higher because you need to also feed yourselves, your attendants and your reception vendors) When you figure the cost for 125, your cost drops to $6250, (saving $1250). This price is only for food and basic beverages ( water, soda, tea…) What about the champagne toast? Alcoholic beverages cost extra. A bottle of champagne ranges from $4/bottle to $300/bottle (yeah, crazy). A good champagne with a fair price is, say, $10 per bottle. Each bottle will pour approximately 6 glasses. Plan on 1 to 1 1/2 glasses per adult head. We’ll use 1 glass and a room full of adults. 150 glasses of champagne requires 25 bottles to be opened: $250. 125 glasses only require 21 bottles which comes to $210.
Next is rentals. Even if your caterer or banquet facility can provide these, you’ll still need to pay for them. You’d like nice big, round tables and 10 guests at each. You’ll need 72″ tables (big enough for 10-12). If you’re seating 25 less people, you can have three less tables and seat 11 guests at some. A 72″ round table costs $10-$12 each. Tablecloths (basic polyester) for these cost $15-$25. You’ve found a table and tablecloth you like for a total of $30 each. For 150, you’ll need 15 tables (again this only includes your guests, not your head table) which is $450. To seat 125 with 10-11 guests at each table, you’ll need 12 tables: $360. How about chairs? You’re guests will probably want to sit, right? A sturdy folding chair is $1 to $3 each and covers are $3 to $5. We’ll say your total per chair is $6. 150 butts = 150 chairs. Your cost is $900. 125 chairs will cost $750. What will your guests eat with? And off of? Flatware is about $0.50/piece so a basic set of fork, knife and spoon is $1.50. Plates are $0.50/each and usually, each guest has two (one for salad, one for entree): $1.00. Champagne glasses are $0.45 to $0.60 and water glasses (good for water, soda, iced tea…) are $0.50 to $0.80 each. You’ll need one of each per guest. So we’ll say that’s $1.10 for both. Cloth napkins cost $0.70 to $0.90. Middle of the road: $0.80. One total place setting, then, costs $4.40. 150 of these costs $660. 125 costs $550.
A nice fresh flower arrangement for your centerpieces can be from $30 up to $300. Let’s say you want something that costs $75, a nice lush bouquet of blooms that match your colors. You needed 15 tables to accommodate 150 guests, so you’ll need 15 centerpieces. That comes to $1125. For 125 guests, you needed 12 tables. That would be $900 for centerpieces.
Couples usually have favors for their guests to take home with them. There are a million options for favors, but let’s say you’ve chosen something that only costs $5. 150 people, 150 favors. This totals $750. 125 adds up to $625.
Wedding cakes are priced per serving and range from $4 – $15 per slice. Most are in the $6 to $10 range so we’ll say yours is $8 a slice. Many couples only get a big enough cake for 3/4 of their guests because not everyone will eat dessert and who’s going to be bothered that they got a 1×1.5 inch slice instead of the traditional 1×2 inch slice? Anyway, 115 “slices” for 150 people makes your cake cost $920. 95 “slices” for 125 people brings it down to $760. There will also be extra savings from needing 25 less dessert plates and forks.
The last thing I’m going to go over in this example is stationary. I will discuss invitations only, but keep in mind, other stationary costs will be affected also, such as place cards, save-the-date cards, menus, programs, and thank you cards. Invitations can range from $1 – $12 each. A somewhat simple, but elegant design (no big embellishments) might cost $3 each. Not every guest needs a separate invitation since only one would go to a married couple and include all members of their household under the age of 18. In our hypothesis, you need invitations for 60% of your total guests. 90 invitations needed for 150 guests comes to $270 and 75 invitations needed for 125 guests is $225.
|150 Guests||125 Guests|
In this example, the difference between 150 and 125 guests is $1,955. Almost two thousand dollars for 25 heads. That’s enough for a plane ticket and hotel room stay for your honeymoon!
This hypothetical example used real average prices that were verified by vendors in this area. If you would like more tips on saving money on your wedding, feel free to contact me
Any feedback is much appreciated. Please send me a message with your thoughts on this article.