What has the number of guests got to do with how much a wedding will cost? We say, ‘everything’ and I’ll explain. We always get questions from brides-to-be and grooms asking: I want to invite 500 people to my wedding, how much would that cost? I have N400k, how many people can I comfortably invite to my wedding? How much should I spend on wedding food per-plate? How much should I spend on the venue – I am inviting 200 people? This post answers all those questions and also shows you how to calculate the cost of wedding food and venue, no matter how small or big your wedding budget is. This post is part of our FAQs about dealing with wedding guest list count or the number of guests when planning your wedding reception. Read on.
Nigerians love big, fat weddings BUT seriously, what can the size of your guest list really tell you about your Nigerian wedding? These days of a bad economy, most Nigerian couples earn little and parents no longer assist that much in funding weddings. Today, most couples look to throw a classy wedding that matches their pockets. This post will show you how to know the number of people your wedding budget can feed and also how much to negotiate with your caterer on cost-of-food-per-plate. Also, you will find out how to know the type of wedding venue to look for, based on the number of guests you’re inviting. Continue reading...
How Do Nigerian Caterers Charge to Cook for a Wedding or Party?
Any Nigerian caterer will ask you for the number of guests you’re inviting before giving you a cost estimate for your wedding reception or party. Caterers in Nigeria charge by cost per plate of food and that’s how they can tell you how much they will charge to cook at your wedding. Therefore, the more guests you are planning to host, the more your catering cost will be. That’s why we advise to cut down on the number of guests if you’re looking to reduce the cost of your Nigerian wedding.
Usually, in Nigeria, people planning weddings start by fixing the number of people to invite before even thinking of the cost implication. That’s alright if money is not an issue for you, but if you have a budget/ spending-ceiling for your wedding reception, read on to find out ways to use the number of guests to estimate how much the wedding catering (food and drinks) will cost.
Should I First Set a Wedding Guest List Count or the Wedding Budget?
There’s no right or wrong way to go about matching your guest list to your budget – neither method is better than the other. If you start by setting a fixed number of guests, you can still work out how much it would cost to feed them all (catering budget) and then add that to the rest of your costs (such as attire cost, venue cost, photography cost, etc.,) to get your overall wedding budget. Alternatively, you can also choose to start with setting an overall budget for the entire wedding and then break that down into catering budget, venue budget, attire budget and more. Read on to find out which method you prefer.
SCENARIO #1 – SETTING THE OVERALL WEDDING BUDGET FIRST
If you the first thing you start with is setting your wedding budget, you can still break the overall budget down to your overall wedding food and drinks budget. Then take that food and drinks budget to go to caterers to find out how many people that amount of money can feed (based on cost per plate of food and per drink for each guest). That is how you will know how many guests your wedding budget can cater to. Putting it another way: the number of plates of food your wedding catering budget can pay for is the maximum number of guests you should fix for your wedding.
For example: Let’s say, you only have a food and drinks budget of N135,000 and you want to know how many people this amount can feed. Assuming, your caterer tells you s/he charges N1k per plate of food and N200 per person (for a drink plus a bottle of water, plus a glass of juice), and N150 for a piece of cake. When you add up all that, each wedding guest will cost you N1,350 for food, so that your wedding food budget limits you to having 100 guests.
You can now multiply this per-guest feeding cost by the total number of people you want to invite, in order to get an idea of how much to reserve as your wedding food budget.
On the other hand, let’s say you only want to invite a maximum of 150 guests, but want to know how much per-plate to negotiate for food with a caterer. Let’s also assume that you started right by reserving/ setting an overall amount for your wedding, AND then using our wedding budget calculator to know how much to allocate to food and other areas.
Now, let’s also assume that our wedding budget calculator suggested that you reserve N135,000 for food and drinks. So, if you want to know how much to negotiate with wedding caterers per plate of food, all you have to do is to divide that your food budget (N125k) by the total number of guests you plan to invite (150) – and that comes to N900 per guest for food.
Budgeting for more guests: More guests equal more mouths to feed, and that is more money to spend. If after you have used the method above to know how many guests to invite, you decide you want to have more guests, here’s how to know how much more money to add to your previous catering (food and drinks) budget:
Adding up the cost per plate of food PLUS cost per drink you get from the caterers is how much each additional guest will cost you. If for any reason you want to increase the number of guests to invite, calculate how much it will cost to feed the extra persons and provide that extra cash.
SCENARIO #2 – FIRST SETTING THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF GUESTS
If you start by fixing the number of guests to invite, you can still estimate how much food and drinks will cost for that amount of people. That is your wedding catering (food and drinks) cost. Add that to the other wedding costs such as couple’s outfits, venue, photographers and others, and you’ll get the overall wedding cost. This is also a good way of using the number of guests to know how much a wedding will cost. However, some people go about this wrongly, which leads to weddings with food and drinks shortage. Here are two types of common mistakes and examples to illustrate them – so that you can avoid repeating the mistakes.
Mistake 1: Setting Guest Count and Also Setting Catering Budget Without First Knowing How Much Caterers Charge on Cost of Food Per Plate: Now. let’s look at a common mistake couples make when planning for wedding food and drinks cost. Let’s assume you have N200k for the whole wedding, and the first thing you did was to set your guest count to 100 guests. Then the caterer charges you N135k (i.e. N1,350 per guest) to provide food and drinks. That leaves you with N65k to cover the rest of the wedding expenses (couple’s attire, photography, venue, DJ, MC, hall decoration). Is this possible? No. That means you need to find more money. That’s a common mistake couples make when budgeting for their weddings.
Mistake 2: Setting Food and Drinks Budget Without Knowing How Many Guests that will Feed: Another mistake couples make is to first set a budget/ ceiling for wedding food and drinks, and randomly fixing a number for the guest count – without caring if that will be enough. The result is the usually crowded wedding where more guests leave hungry. An example is a couple that plans not to spend more than N150k on food and drinks (i.e. catering budget) and plans to invite 300 guests. Now that comes to N500 per plate of food and a drink (per guest). How possible is that in Nigeria today?
- RELATED: How to Make a Wedding Budget from Scratch
- What Else Should I Budget for In My Wedding? (See Typical Expenses List)
So, What is the Best Way to Estimate Wedding Cost Based on Number of Guests?
As you can see from the two scenarios above, whichever way you choose to start from – make a budget first or set a guest count first, you’ll still arrive at the same correct answer. Use any method that feels comfortable for you to estimate your wedding budget. There’s no right or wrong way, or order – both methods are correct; so use the one that you like. But if you have a fixed wedding budget and do not want to spend more than that, it is wiser to start by doing a budget breakdown and then taking the food and drinks budget amount to break down how many persons that money can feed. Any event caterer can easily give you that estimate (of wedding guest count) if you tell them your catering budget.
Next, let’s talk about how to plan for your venue cost.
How to Choose the Right Wedding Venue Based on Number of Guests
Before you go looking at wedding venues, you need to know how many guests you want to host. That’s aside from the need to know what to look for in a wedding venue. That way, you’ll be looking at a venue size that is big enough for that number of people (the venue should not be too tight or oversized, though). You also need to have a ceiling of the maximum amount of money you should not pay more than. That is your venue budget, which you can easily determine from doing a budget breakdown.
Event venues and halls are charged by size, some by square meters. The bigger the hall, the more expensive. Now, let’s look again at the scenarios above, now in terms of the guest list size versus reception size. Let’s assume that you found 2 venues and want to decide between a small city hall venue of N150k that seats 100 guests and there’s also a bigger events hall of N220k that seats 150 people.
My advice is to look at your budget – what can you afford? If you have a lean wedding budget, that could mean that you have to take another look at your guest list, as a smaller venue may not contain all of them. The truth is that you don’t have to invite everybody – cut down your list to your pocket. Besides, your wedding will look classy if you invite fewer people. Having more wedding guests (than you can cater for) means food will not be enough for all and some guests leave hungry or feel stuffy/ hot in the venue and will leave the wedding insulting you.
Extra Advice: In case you cannot afford any of the two venues, then choose the biggest venue that would give your guests a good amount of space to move around and dance, and bigger venues are airier.
But, Other Things Can Also Increase Wedding Costs
It’s not only the venue cost that is affected by the number of guests you invite to your wedding. Other costs that can increase (as you increase the number of guests) are food, drinks, invitation cards and even the souvenirs (more guests = more souvenirs = more money). You can go here to read more about how a guest list shoots up the wedding budget.
Any wedding planner knows that one of the easiest ways to reduce a wedding budget is to cut down the guest list. And it’s as simple as this: if you’re faced with an overwhelming big wedding budget, trim down the guest list and you’ll see how the wedding budget will drastically reduce – try it and see for yourself.
Takeaways on Calculating Wedding Costs Based on Number of Guests
Here’s how your guest list number shoots up your wedding budget: the wedding venue can take up to 18% of your total wedding expenses, or more. Food and drinks at your wedding reception will be one of the biggest expense categories in your budget, costing up to 21% of your overall wedding budget. The number of people you invite to your wedding is what determines how much you will spend on the reception budget (food, drinks, venue). Few guests will eat less food and drinks and will require a smaller venue, translating to a significantly lower reception budget and a smaller wedding cost.
In a country like Nigeria, where everyone assumes that every wedding is an open invite, how do you control your guest list size? That’s a matter for another blog post but one of the ways that the young couples are using is to have a destination wedding – can be abroad or in Nigeria (a different state/ city/ far from your house) – to make it a bit difficult for the uninvited to attend. Stay tuned for more tips on how to cut down your wedding reception cost by controlling your guest list.
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- How to Plan an Inexpensive Wedding: Everything You Need to Know
So, that’s it from me on how to calculate your wedding food and venue cost based on how many guests you plan to invite. What are the ways you are using to arrive at your wedding reception (food and venue) costs? Let me hear them in the comments section below.