Helping a client on where to start with planning or deciding on that perfect Venue to the most magical wedding experience is one of the many things I enjoy about this job. I became a wedding and event planner to help clients enjoy the journey without the stress of planning!

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How Guest Count Affects Your Wedding Budget

This topic is very dear to my heart: budget. 

Every couple I work with wants to know the bottom line, and they should because budget will determine everything about your wedding. One of the keys to determining a budget is guest count.

There are two elements to any budget, the fixed costs and the variable costs. Fixed costs remain the same whether you decide to invite 50, 150 or 200 people. Variable costs increase as you add to your bridal party and guest count. 

Fixed costs include: 

  • Venue Rental
  • Officiant
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Ceremony & Reception Music or Entertainment
  • Attire (Bride/Groom)
  • Photo booth/360
  • Guest Book
  • Marriage License
  • Groom Boutonniere
  • Bride Bouquet
  • Ceremony Decor/Florals

Variable costs include:

  • Save the Dates, Invitations & Postage
  • Groomsmen’s Boutonnieres
  • Bridesmaids’ Bouquets
  • Makeup & Hair
  • Linen, Chair, Table and Other Rentals
  • Catering 
  • Bar Services 
  • Chargers, Plates, Flatware, Drinkware 
  • Centerpieces
  • Transportation for bridal party
  • Cake

It is variable costs that change the scope and price of your wedding.

As a planner in the Charlotte, NC area I often advise couples that an overall budget can be safely set at $300-$350 per guest. This cost per guest factors in the venue, catering, bar services, and all your professional vendors, including planner. If you think I exaggerate take a look at this barebones wedding budget for 100 guests:

Venue Rental$5,000
Photographer$4,000
Videographer$3,000
Caterer $5,000  ($50 pp)
Bar Service$2,000   ($20 pp)
Stationery$800
Florist$6,000
Rentals$3,000
Officiant$350
DJ (Ceremony/Reception)$2,000
Planner$4,000
Baker$900
Bride and Bridal Party MUA & Hair$500
Total$36,550

We also need to take into consideration a few things that weren’t added to this budget. Additional costs include things like: 

  • Vendor taxes
  • 20% service of the total catering and bar balance 
  • Transportation 
  • Favors 
  • Attire 
  • Extras like Candy station, Late night snacks, Sparklers and Photo booth

This is why a wedding budget can escalate faster than you think–and managing your budget is one of the best reasons to hire a certified wedding planner. A good planner understands your budget and your priorities for your big day. With established relationships in the wedding industry, a planner will make sure you get the right vendors at the right prices. 

There is no doubt that weddings are expensive but a good planner will keep your costs inline with your budget and deliver the day of your dreams.

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