Save big by keeping the guest list curated.
glara matthew wedding guests at tables

No doubt, the wedding guest list is sure to be one of the most challenging aspects of wedding planning, as the number of people you end up inviting ultimately cuts into your budget. But if you decide to keep it short (and stick to it!), you can cater to a smaller group in very special ways.

The average wedding guest will cost you about $100, says Oregon-based wedding planner Misty Damico. That means, just one table's worth of guests (which is about eight to 10), can add up to an average of $1,000. So, not surprisingly, inviting fewer people means you'll be spending less on your wedding as a whole-if your guest list is the only variable you can control to keep your costs down. And yet, with an intimate wedding comes more detailed elements. Here, we break down the details you can splurge on with the money you save on the guest list.

10 Tips for Putting Together a Wedding Guest List

More florals

The blooms that'll set the mood for your wedding can multiply with more room in the budget, Damico says. This includes "not just table floral, but floral for the entrance, bistros, and bar tops. Or alternatively, a bigger and more robust ceremony look, like petals down the aisle and/or suspended floral arches at the altar," she adds.

Tabletop décor

We're not just talking about more flowers here. If you're catering to fewer people than anticipated, you'll have the extra to spend on things like custom menus, foil-stamped cocktail menus, drink tags, and fancy linens-which are elements that typically get cut as guest lists get out of hand, Damico notes. "Trimming it up and having a layered tablescape look that is magazine-worthy is definitely possible."

Enhance the music

It's no secret that wedding entertainment can cost a pretty penny. "Sometimes when the budget is in question, having your favorite DJ with all the bells and whistles and fancy lighting on the dance floor has to be cut from the planning," Damico says. Narrowing the list means more can be allocated to the choosing of any DJ you like.

Setting the mood

Lighting for décor purposes can also be trimmed when the guest list grows. "Mood lighting is one of the most cost-effective ways to decorate an event," Damico says. "Lighting sets the tone of the environment." You may want to create a better ambiance at the reception by keeping the guest list down.

Diversify your drinks selection

Couples pare down at the bar to just a basic beer and wine menu when there's not enough money to go around, Damico says. "At more intimate weddings, we see our clients having a full bar packed with craft cocktail options, beer, wine, and also a selection of Champagnes," Damico says. "Fewer guests equals drinking less alcohol, and the overall expense [will be] less."

How to Save Money on Alcohol for Your Wedding Bar


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