One Thing Will Affect Your Wedding Budget the Most

You have probably been pouring over budgets, and costs for your wedding for weeks now. Perhaps, you’re just beginning the process, and wondering how to budget for what’s important to you. Either way, there is one thing that you must consider, because this one thing will affect your wedding budget the most! Venue, photographer and florals are all major parts of your budget, but what I’m talking about is guest count. So, let’s talk about how guest count is the number one thing that will affect your wedding budget, and why.

Guest Count – How it will Affect Your Wedding Budget

When you make your ideal guest list you should have a pretty good idea of your guest count. But perhaps you’ve allowed invitees to bring a date. Or maybe you have a lot of long distance relatives, and you don’t know how many will actually come. Why do these things matter? Because your catering, bar, favors, centerpieces, table and chair rentals all depend on this final number.

Most caterers and/or venues charge per person. As do rental companies for individual pieces. Let’s imagine you have a 200 person guest list. Not only will your per person cost change if only 150 RSVP, but so will the amount of tables, chairs and centerpieces you will need. It will even affect how much wedding cake you will need. If your venue is BYOB it will determine the amount of alcohol you need to bring and how many bartenders you need. Almost everything depends on your guest count.

Bride & Groom greeting guests from the balcony at Drumore Estate, Lancaster PA Wedding Venue
Photo by John Malloy Photography


How to I Plan for Changes in my Guest Count

Typically you can expect about 80% of your invite list to attend your wedding. You will have to determine if that will be accurate for your specific list. I have seen weddings where only 50% of the guest list attends, and I have seen weddings where the guest count just keeps climbing. In some cases people will surprise you, but you know your friends and family well enough to know who will come and who probably won’t be able to make it.

My biggest piece of advice, is to plan for the maximum. Then, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when that number is lower, or at the very least, you already have it in the budget.

Guest Count – What Exactly Does it Affect

I’ve put together a list of everything your guest count can, and will affect, just to keep it fresh in your mind as you are still planning out the details of your day.

  • Catering costs (usually charged per person)
  • Bar costs (usually charged per person)
  • Rentals – tables & chairs (usually charged per item)
  • Linens – more or less guests will affect how many tables you have, and therefore how many linens you need
  • Florals – affected the same way as linens
  • Alcohol – if your venue is BYOB it will be up to you to determine how much alcohol to provide
  • Staff/Service charge – more guests = more servers, bartenders and kitchen staff (usually charged as a percentage of your final catering bill)
  • Number of Favors
  • Printed materials – invitations, programs, menus, place/escort cards
  • Guest transportation – if you are providing busses or shuttle service
  • Cake – not only how many pieces you will need, but also if your caterer charges for cake cutting


One Thing Will Affect Your Wedding Budget The Most - Drumore Estate Wedding Venue, Lancaster PA
Photo by Ashley Elizabeth Photography


Considering the various ways your final guest count affects your wedding day will help you determine a more accurate budget. It truly is the one thing that will affect your wedding budget the most. You”ll want to choose the photographer, florist and DJ that will make your day extra special, so knowing from the beginning what the numbers will be is a huge help! Sure, things will change along the way, but this will give you a head start on the path to a beautiful wedding that fits right into your budget.


Cheers to Love,