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How Guest Size Affects Your Budget + Wedding Day

Planning a wedding is an exciting journey filled with countless decisions to make, from selecting the perfect venue to choosing the dream dress.

However, one factor that significantly impacts both your budget and the dynamics of your wedding day is the size of your guest list. Yes, more mouths to feed requires a bigger budget, but there are a lot of other things to take into consideration when you're creating your guest list!

Venue Selection

The size of your guest list plays a crucial role in determining the most suitable venue for your wedding. Larger guest counts may require spacious venues with ample seating and facilities, which can come at a higher cost. Opting for a smaller, intimate wedding allows for more flexibility in venue choices, including boutique locations and hidden gems that may be more budget-friendly. If you're dreaming of a wedding with coastal cliffs and the ocean as the backdrop, a guest count of 100 or less is going to be more feasible than anything larger. If you have a distinct vision for your day, make sure to talk to a wedding planner in the very beginning so we can help you sort your priorities and find the perfect venue!

Catering Costs

Food and beverage expenses constitute a significant portion of your wedding budget, and guest count directly impacts catering costs.

It's pretty straightforward-- more people eating and drinking = higher food and beverage costs.

Your guest count will also influence the type of service is recommended. Family style is our favorite way to dine, but can get costly with large guest counts. You often have to rent the platters and serving utensils (most caterers do not have a high enough quantity of family style platters for large weddings) and caterers will need to factor in additional food (as they do not control the portions that guests take). Plated dinners are usually preferred for large guests counts, but also takes more services (additional labor costs) to execute in a timely manner.

Intimate gatherings offer opportunities for curated menus and personalized dining experiences, potentially resulting in savings per guest.

Decor and Rentals

The size of your guest list influences the quantity of rental items needed to accommodate everyone and the level of personalization that you can achieve for each guest.

In terms of rentals, larger weddings will require more tables, chairs, linens, and tabletop settings. Each table will also need florals, so you need to up your floral budget for larger weddings. Finally, day-of paper goods like menus, place cards, and table numbers will run the budget up with more guests!

Smaller weddings allow for more attention to detail and customization, with the opportunity to splurge on high-quality decor items without exceeding the budget. It's much easier to write 75 'thank you' notes than 250!

Guest Experience

The guest experience is paramount in creating lasting memories of your wedding day, and guest size directly impacts the overall ambiance and atmosphere.

Intimate weddings foster a sense of closeness and connection among guests, encouraging meaningful interactions and shared moments. You actually get to spend time visiting with each guests and can hang out with them in a way that feels more natural. With larger weddings, the couple is often limited to a few minutes per table during dinner and don't often get to chat with every guest. For larger weddings where the couple wants to really maximize their time with their guests, we always recommend a Welcome Party, post-ceremony brunch, and having a First Look. All these elements will also increase the budget in varying ways!

Listen, we want you to be with all your people! We want you and your partner to be surrounded by all the people you love and that have played a hand in making you who you are. But we also see that, too often, couples feel obligated to extend more 'plus ones' than they really want, or they feel bad not inviting that group of coworkers. Don't let feelings of guilt and expectation pressure you into adding more people to your guest list! Weddings are expensive already, let's not spend money on folks we wouldn't invite over for a dinner party!

If you're feeling torn between cutting down your guest list and making compromises based on budget, reach out! We work with couples at all stages of planning to figure out where their priorities lie and how to maximize the budget to achieve the desired vibe. Feel free to fill out the contact form below and we'll be in touch soon.


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