The 2 Guest List Rules That Will Keep You From Exceeding Your Wedding Budget


Photography: CMP Denver


The amount of guests that you invite to celebrate your day will impact your budget more than any other wedding category.  Whether you plan to have an intimate celebration with your nearest and dearest family and friends or a large celebration, every single guest will come at a price. When you break down your wedding day expenses, consider that almost 50% of your budget will go towards guest related expenses.

This includes your actual venue spaces (to host your guests), the food and beverage (to feed your guests), and even the amount of decor, stationary, favors and seating you will need (which will increase based on the number of guests).  We cannot stress enough that the more guests = the more wedding expenses. On the other hand, the smaller the guest count = the more you can ultimately control the amount of expenses needed for the day. 

When it comes to creating your guest count, consider these 2 essential rules:

  • Rule #1:  Avoid the temptation to invite guests out of guilt, or you are not 100% certain you can afford.

Don’t be surprised if your first babysitter, first college roommate you vaguely remember or even social media friend you may or may not have met in real life inquires on an invitation for your big day. Weddings are exciting and people LOVE to attend. Not setting clear rules on who to invite to your wedding can quickly lead to going well over budget. Prevent this from happening by spending time considering first, how many guests you can afford to invite, then who you can’t imagine not having for your big day. Anyone else should be considered only after factoring in what your budget will allow for your primary guests that you can’t imagine not having.

  • Rule #2: Be careful when it comes to splitting your guest count with family.

While you and your fiancé may have your guest count well under your goal number, you may find that your parents and even close family have their own dream guest list to invite to the big day.  The general formula is for the bride and groom to take 50% of the guest count, leaving the remaining 50% to be split between both sets of parents. To avoid going over, calculate an actual number this should amount to so that both sets know exactly how many guests they are allowed to remain within budget.  If siblings or other family have their own invites they would like to include, take from the percent allocated by parents.

Be sure to check out our post on managing your guest list like a pro for more on keeping your guest list under control!

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