As you embark on the wedding planning journey, you’ll hear that your guest count can significantly affect your budget – and it’s true! Every guest attending your wedding will require additional budget. But how does that play out, realistically? What does it actually look like and how do things change as you go from 100 guests to 175 guests or even 250? Below, with the help of the incredible Josh and Dana Fernandez Photography, we’re showing you visually how different elements of wedding design can change as guest count goes up, assuming a fixed budget. Dana worked with a host of talented Houston vendors, including the planning experts at Two Be Wed, florists at Flower Vibes and invitation design team at Half Moon Lettering to illustrate this concept beautifully. The model bride wore gowns from Unbridaled and had hair and makeup styled by Hey Lovely. We hope this information is so helpful!
From the photographer: “As it is with so many things that we experience, hindsight is always 20/20. Being in the wedding industry and having photographed over 100 weddings, this is true for so many things concerning a couple’s wedding day. One in particular that we hear about a lot from past clients as well as other vendors is realizing how much their guest count affected their overall design and decor allowances. Since this is something that we continually see, we wanted to create an editorial to help visualize how much decor can change within the same exact budget but with different guest counts. Overall, we put together three different setups all based on a $60,000 budget with the same mood board, but showcasing what the wedding would look like with a guest count of 250, 175, then 100 people respectively. It is also worth noting that all costs used were real pricing from the actual vendors that participated in the shoot, and if a vendor’s product was not photographed, such as food, music or the officiant, we still obtained actual quotes from vendors that normally provide services for clients with the budget we chose. We even included items such as alterations, favors, sparklers and attendant gifts.”
A Visual Representation of Guest Count’s Effect on Budget
These items remained consistent in price and unchanged, no matter the guest count:
1. Venue Rental
2. Catering & Alcohol
3. Security and Insurance
5. Ceremony and Reception Music (String Trio for Ceremony, DJ for Reception)
6. Groom’s Tux
9. Marriage License
10. Guest Book
The following items didn’t change in scope based on guest count, but the total pricing changed due to quantities needed. For frame of reference, the bridal party sizes were as follows: 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen for the 250 guest count, eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen for the 175 guest count and four bridesmaids and four groomsmen for the 100 guest count.
1. Groomsmen’s Boutonnieres
2. Bridesmaids’ Bouquets
3. Makeup and Hair
4. Attendant Gifts
250 Guest Count
175 Guest Count
100 Guest Count
Notice how the following elements changed in scope and price as the guest count changed, with fewer guests allowing for a bigger budget allotted to those items:
1. Planning and design level of service: As the guest count decreased the level of planning went up as it was assumed that the client would need more help and planning with a larger design budget.
2. Cake: Buttercup Bakery specializes in sugar flowers, but understands that it isn’t always an option for all budgets. So for the 250 guest count, only real flowers were used but as the guest count went down, more sugar flowers were added in.
3. Florals: Going from 250 to 100 guests, more floral budget, resulting in not only more flowers overall, but also more premium blooms were used such as peonies and garden roses.
4. Gown: The gowns increased in price as the guest count went down, starting with a gown that was under $1,000 going up to $6,000.
5. Chairs: Beginning with the 250 guest count, standard folding chairs were used. We made sure to keep the same wood tone so as to visually show the change in chairs. The 175 guest count used the popular option of chiavari and then the 100 guest count, we used the linen and wood mixed chairs for a more luxurious feel.
6. Linens: While the colors of the linens changed slighting from each guest count, they were all still referred to as grey in the swatches. With the 100 guest count linen being the truest to gray and thicker with a beautiful texture.
7. Invitations and all paper items: The baseline that we used for paper (and also the 250 guest count) included save the dates, postage, a two-piece invitation suite (invite and RSVP), printed addresses and table numbers. Then for the 175 guest count, another piece was added to the invites, calligraphy for the addresses and a program. Lastly, for the 100 guest count, the invitation suite was upgraded to have a die cut shape, special paper, envelope liners, custom wax seal, additional embellishments as well as adding in place cards, menu cards and an escort card wall.
8. Tabletop items (plates, flatware, chargers and drinkware): With the 100 guest count, the only item that we had budgeted as a rental was the napkins. Everything else was standard catering plates, flatware, glassware and glasses. When we went down to the 175 guest count, chargers were added as well as upgraded glasses. Finally, for the 100 guest count example, all place setting items were rented (vs using catering items).
Making Your Budget Stretch Further
Dana acknowledges that inviting fewer guests doesn’t always mean that a couple will want to up their design budget. “We do want to note that while we understand that not everyone will be focused on increasing their design budget with a lower guest count, some other options to consider that you could invest in instead of florals, decor and paper or a mixture of (the following):
1. Photo booth
5. Accent lighting
6. Upgrading to premium liquor
7. Honeymoon (or honeymoon upgrades/excursions)
8. Upgrading menu
9. Lounge furniture”
Remember, it’s your wedding day and should reflect what’s most important to you as a couple! We wanted to share these helpful visuals from Josh and Dana Fernandez to help illustrate how increasing or decreasing the number of invitees can constrict your budget or make it stretch even further. Cheers to designing the wedding of your dreams, no matter the guest count!
Special thanks for Dana Fernandez of Josh and Dana Fernandez Photography for providing the concept, write-ups and photos.