Do you know the one single wedding area you can touch and your entire wedding cost will immediately reduce? Also, do you know that one type of wedding expense is responsible for over 40% of the entire wedding budget? If you know, you could easily control the cost of your wedding without affecting the quality. Read to find out plus other tips to cut down your wedding cost.
If you know what really makes weddings (in Nigeria and everywhere) so expensive, then you will know what to do to cut down your entire wedding cost to as low as you desire – this post will show you how. Maybe you’ve started shopping for your wedding things, getting price quotations from venues and the vendors, but the huge total cost is frustrating you because you can’t seem to get it down to your planned budget. Guess what? There’s a single expense area that every wedding planner swears by, that if you cut it down, an entire wedding budget will reduce, and you’ll still have the event quality untouched. Read on to find out.
The number of your wedding guests is the source of the single biggest wedding expense. It’s the first place to start when looking to bring down wedding costs because it causes many different expenses to go up, as you will find out. There are also a few more things. Read on to find out how you can apply this cost-cutting wedding planning technique and avoid overspending.
How Number of Guests Affect Overall Wedding Cost (and What to Do When Planning)
Couples who are just starting to budget for their weddings, always wonder exactly ‘how expensive is a wedding?’. Well, let me share a fun fact with you: the size of your guest list is responsible for how expensive your wedding will be because it controls the cost of the most expensive part of a wedding (food/ drinks and venue).
1. Size/ Number of Guests: Food and drinks cost increases as the number of guests increases. Before any caterer gives you an estimate of their charge, they will ask how many guests you are inviting. That’s because caterers charge on a per-plate-of-food basis AND on per bottle of drink basis, and that means your wedding cost will be higher as your number of guests increase. Consider inviting fewer guests if you have a limited budget to plan the wedding. Always remember that every single guest is a cost.
Cost of food and drinks usually make up about 40% of any wedding cost, sometimes even half of the wedding cost guest into food and drinks. That’s largely due to the number of guests that are being served the food and drinks. Is it by force to invite everyone you know their names? No. Write your list of guests on paper before you ever order invitation cards. After that, cut down the guest list to a number you can feed and accommodate (venue size).
We usually advise that couples first set out a bulk amount for their wedding catering (food and drinks) – which is easily got if they start with a wedding budget breakdown. Once you have that, you don’t have to guess or randomly fix a number for how many guests to invite. That’s a risky way that leads to over-inviting people and a crowded wedding where food does not go round. We have a simple formula that has helped many of our readers to determine the exact number of guests your budget can cater to. Check out that formula, and thank me later.
LESSON & SUMMARY: When looking for how to bring down the cost of a wedding, consider reducing the number of guests to invite. If you reduce one or more guests, you can have enough money to do other things. For example: if you have N500k and initially planned to invite 100 people. Let’s say that you have done a budget breakdown and wedding budget spending list on paper and the total cost is more than your planned N500k. Using the idea above, if you go back to your guest list and reduce it to 90 or 80 guests, you can re-calculate your catering cost (based on the per-plate-cost your caterer quoted. You may be surprised to see the total wedding cost drop.
Another Example: We have seen some couples say they desire to have a honeymoon but money was tight. When we asked them how many guests they’re inviting, we suggested they cut down the guest list so that they saved extra money that was enough for a decent and budget honeymoon vacation somewhere in Nigeria. How cool is that!
2. Your Venue Size, Type/ Class and Location: The size of the venue space, location and the class of the facility determine how expensive the venue is. Find out how to cut down on venue costs. You’ll also want to determine the following:
a) Number of Guests vs venue cost vs seating capacity of the venue: When you go looking for your wedding venue, the question you’ll be asked is: how many guests are you having? They want to be able to know which of their venue spaces can comfortably accommodate that number of people. If you will have more guests, you will require larger venue spaces and that costs more. The more guests you plan to invite, the more costly the venue you’ll require.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Reduce guest list numbers so that you can go for a smaller cheaper venue if you want to cut down on the cost of the wedding venue.
b) Venue Type vs Cost: When looking at event and wedding venues in the same area/ location, they would be different based on their types. The price points of wedding and event venues are different depending on the venue type – some stypes are more expensive than others. For example, hotel-owned event venues are more expensive than restaurant-owned event venues, and garden-type event venues are less expensive than restaurant-based event venues. If money is not an issue, by all means, go for the venue of your dreams.
If that’s not the case, you more affordable venue types include gardens, open-fields, school fields at weekends and school halls. For Sunday (weekend) weddings, some restaurants convert to event venues. Whatever type of venue your money can afford, there’s a way to make it look upgraded and extraordinary. We have seen some couples transform some of the cheaper venue types to look expensive. You too can do that. What is not cool is spending so much for a venue and squeezing on food and drinks and a good DJ for guests.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you absolutely want your wedding in a specific location, go around and get pricing for the different types of venue options and then compare the prices so you can choose the one that fits your taste and budget. What is not cool is to have a taste for 5-star hotel venues and you only have a 2-star restaurant venue, and be bent on sacrificing everything to have that. Sounds ridiculous but there are people like that. There are venue options with different price points and sometimes couples on a low budget choose expensive options.
c) Location vs Venue Cost: Another thing that makes venue prices more costly is the location and class of the facility. Also, venues in high-brow parts of any city are more expensive. Furthermore, there are high-class venues, such as 5-star hotels or high-brow restaurants or high-class event centers.
The location of the venue also affects the cost. A high-class hotel event venue in Lagos will cost more than the same class of hotel venue in Ibadan. Event and wedding venues in Lagos Island are more expensive than the same quality and class of venues in Lagos mainland. Why? The location. For this reason, we have seen couples who work and live in Abuja or Lagos choose to locate their weddings in their home states just so they can pay less on a high-class hotel event venue. That’s a thing to consider. To know about every other thing to consider, read our tips on what to look for in a wedding venue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you absolutely like the idea of a top-hotel wedding venue and can’t afford the hotel venues in the state where you live, consider locating your wedding in another cheaper state/ city such as your home state where you can have that same type and class of event venue but a lot cheaper.
3. Catering Options (Food and Drinks): This includes the number of menus to serve, the type of food options and the class of caterer. I’ll touch on each point later. Keep reading.
Every single guest costs money – cost per plate of food, cost per portion of venue space. From the above explanation, you can see that by cutting down the number of guests in your plan, your required planning budget will be lower – because you’ll need less money for the venue, food, and drinks. Below is a video illustrating how Nigerian weddings are usually high on the number of guests, and so expensive.
Why Most Nigerians Do Not Make a Guest List (Video Clip)
Sample Behind The Scenes of How Nigerian Families Make their Huge Wedding Guest List (Video Clip)
ARTICLES TO HELP YOU NAIL YOUR VENUE:
- How to Make a Guest List (Step by Step)
- How to Find and Choose the Perfect Wedding Venue
- What to Look for in a Wedding Venue (Checklist)
Read on for more ideas on the exact expense types to touch if you want to cut down the cost of your wedding.
The Secret: Cut Down Only Your Guest List to Get a Lower Wedding Cost
When planning your wedding budget, keep this in mind: YOU have the power to reduce the variable cost items, but you don’t have the power to reduce the fixed cost wedding expenses. Most good wedding vendors have almost-fixed rates, as there’s a limit to which they can discount their prices.
If you’ve already found wedding vendors who’ll organize your event, you know that it’s not in your power to control or reduce vendor services costs (beyond a certain limit they agree to discount). What you can do is to cut costs from where you have the power to control – and that is the NUMBER OF GUESTS. Reduce that a bit, to see how food and drinks cost go down (which brings down the entire wedding cost). After doing that, and the wedding cost is still high, trim down the guest list again, and check. if there’s a need to still cut down the budget, repeat that process until you arrive at a total wedding cost you can afford to pay for.
Now that your guest list has reduced, you’ll require a smaller, lower-cost wedding hall. So, you need to find a smaller sized venue, which usually cost less than bigger ones. Wedding event venue managers always tell how many people (maximum), their spaces can seat, so be sure to ask or tell them how many people you plan to host – they’ll show you the halls or outdoor space for that number, and price.
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- 5 Costly Wedding Cake Spending Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- Costly Wedding Fashion Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- 11 Ways to Save Money on Wedding Cakes
Know What the Fixed and Variable Wedding Expenses & You’ll Easily Control Your Wedding Cost
Fixed Wedding Costs: With weddings, there are costs that remain the same no matter the number of guests you have – such as vendor service charges e.g. DJ or music band, MC, video coverage, photography. Those are ‘fixed costs’ at weddings, and are not within your control. They’re not where to look when looking to cut costs. Look at it, wedding vendors (DJ, MC, Photographers, Videographers) do not ask you for the number of guests before telling you their cost. Their cost is fixed, no matter how many guests you have.
Variable Wedding Costs: Some type of wedding expenses increase if the number of guests increases. The number of guests you have is the main thing that increases the wedding budget, and it determines how much you will spend on the venue and wedding food. For example the venue cost, catering cost (i.e. food and drinks), wedding cake, souvenirs, invitation cards, and venue decorator (if you have a very large event space). Think about it, any caterer would ask you the number of guests you’re expecting before telling you their charge to provide food and drinks (it is ‘cost per plate, per drink’). Likewise, when looking for a venue, they will ask you how many guests you’re having before telling you the cost of a suitable space (for that size of guests). Same thing when printing invitation cards (it is ‘cost per number’) and wedding cakes (a bigger cake is required to feed more guests, and cost more). Can you see how more guests cost more money to cater for?
HOW TO CONTROL WEDDING COST: It is you that has control over how many guests to invite, and now you know that each guest costs you money. You have control (increase or reduce) your overall budget by increasing or reducing the number of guests you plan to invite. It all boils down to how many guests you want to invite. Can you really afford all of them? Therefore, if you are looking for a way to spend less on your wedding or to cut down cost, the easiest thing to do is to reduce the things you control (variable cost) and leave the ones you cannot (fixed costs).
1. Wedding Catering Options: The more guests you plan to invite, the more plates of food your caterer would charge you, and the more drinks you have to budget for. Even if your family members are cooking the food, you still have to buy more ingredients (meat, rice, drinks and so on). Another thing that makes wedding catering cost to go up is the number of menu options, types of food in the menu and class of caterer.
2. Meal Options: Know your budget before increasing the number of meals to be served at your wedding. If you have the money, go all-in. But if you are planning on a low budget, limit the food options to a few staple party foods such as jollof rice with salad, swallow-food (eba) with one or two soup options and one or two small chop options such as doughnuts and vegetable and meat samosa. If money is tights, there’s no need to have all sorts of rice (ofada, jollof, white rice, fried rice); one or two rice menus will be fine. There’s no need to have chicken and beef in tiny cube-sizes when you can simply serve only beef which is cheaper and cut into a good size. There’s no need to have4 soup options and 5 finger food options if money is an issue. Your guests will prefer a few meal options that are tasty instead of a dozen options that are tasteless.
3. Type of Food/ Dish: Some types of foods are more expensive than others. For example, continental dishes are more expensive than local Nigerian party foods. Some types of finger foods are more expensive than others. If you started by making a wedding budget and don’t want to overspend, skip the more expensive types of food and focus on giving your guests the best quality of popular Nigerian party foods. Besides, serve what your type of guests are familiar with, if you don’t want to see them leave food on the table. Some types of cakes are more expensive than others – but that does not mean that the cheaper types are not tasty. I have been to a wedding where guests were served slices of cake with ‘strange flavour’. Yes, it was a very beautiful, one-in-town cake that the bride impressed guests with but the taste was not what most guests were used to.
4. Class of Caterer: The cost of your wedding catering (food and drinks) will depend on the caliber and class of caterer you hire. Some caterers are high-class and command high costs. There are hotel caterers, restaurants caterers, and bukka/ mama-put caterers and there are very good ones (as well as not-so-good ones) in each category. So, know the type of caterer that your budget can afford before you go shopping for a caterer. Whichever type you decide to go for, ensure to hire the best.
5. Wedding Venue: You’ll need a bigger venue space for more guests. Event halls and venues are costed by how big/ small the floor space is. Some hotels or event centers have small halls and big halls and each has the maximum number of guests it can accommodate – more money for bigger wedding halls. Event and wedding venues in high-brow or high-class parts of every Nigerian city are generally more expensive (village vs city; GRA vs regular areas). We always see some couples choosing to locate their weddings in their villages and renting a very classy venue for less than one-third the price in the state/ city they work in. That’s a smart thing to do when looking for how to cut down costs.
6. Some Type of Wedding Services: Some wedding planners charge by a percentage of your overall wedding cost, meaning that you’ll pay them more if your total wedding cost is high. Similarly, some venue decorators would charge you more for decorating a bigger wedding venue. Can you see how the size and cost of a venue can shoot up your wedding budget?
How Do Wedding Caterers and Venue Charge?
Event halls, as well as outdoor venues, are priced by the size. So, if you have a large guest, you will require a bigger hall or outdoor venue, and be prepared to pay the price that comes with size.
Caterers charge their services on a per plate of food basis and sometimes include additional charges for serving the guests. When planning for how many people to invite, think of each guest as a per-plate-cost, and calculate how much the catering cost would be. So, you see, inviting plenty of guests increases the cost of wedding food. The more guests, the more mouths to feed, and the more money you need to fork out of your pocket.
- How to Make Party Jollof Rice (w/ Recipe for 100 and More Guests)
- How to Make Tasty Party Doughnuts (w/ Recipe for up to 100 pieces)
- How to Make Crispy Samosa Small Chops (Easy Recipe)
How Much Should You Spend on Wedding Food and Venue?
How much you spend on food or venue should be determined by how much food and venue size would be enough for the number of guests you are planning – go out there to ask venues and caterers for price quotation. Cut down guest list or increase your budget, whichever is comfortable for you, to pay the cost of the food and venue. Now that you know that a big part of your wedding cost is controlled by how many people you invite to your wedding, the question now is how much should you spend on a wedding venue and food? You may also ask: how many people should you invite to your wedding?
The answer is to invite the number of guests that your money can afford to feed; and that you can afford to pay for a venue that is big enough to accommodate all of them.
Why You Should Not Invite Everybody to Your Wedding
While it’s great to have a big fat Nigerian wedding that is talk of the town, you should know that what makes a classy wedding is not the number of guests. Instead, it is how well you took care of your guests. You’ll appear stingy and wicked if you invited 400 people to a hall where 100 are standing and only 200 got food. Your guests will definitely bad-mouth you. ‘ No be by force’, as we’ll usually say in pidgin English.
SUMMARY: If you cut down the number of guests you’re inviting, you can seriously reduce the cost of food and drinks you require, as well as venue cost (smaller venue spaces cost less). Try reducing your guest list by, say, 10% and recalculate your food/ drinks cost, as well as a price for a smaller venue – you should see that your entire wedding budget will drop down like magic.
How Many Wedding Guests to Invite: A Quick Guide to Knowing
The right way to go about determining how many guests you should invite to your wedding is to first set aside a food budget. You get that by splitting your entire wedding budget and setting aside a portion for separate things, including food.
- 24% of the entire budget for Bride and Groom’s outfits plus wedding rings
- 21% for the reception (food, drinks, cakes, small chops)
- 18% for venue and decoration (including rentals such as chair covers, canopy tents, etc)
- 14% for entertainment and visuals (MC, DJ/band, Photos and/ or Videos)
- 6% for Stationery and Souvenirs/ wedding favors
- 17% for miscellaneous expenses – for just-in-case anything comes up later
PLANNING TIPS: Once you have determined your wedding food budget, find out how many guests that amount of money can feed. You should be able to get this by asking a few wedding day caterers. You can further spend less on food by serving a few menu items – focus on the usual occasion favorites of Nigerians, such as jollof rice, moi-moi etc.
Ensure to make your wedding plans (food, drinks, venue…) to match/ fit your spending budget. If you invite many but have a small venue, there a problem, If you invite many, and the food and/ drinks are not enough, there’s a problem. Don’t make the mistake of trying to plan a ‘big wedding’ with a small budget – coupled who went this route confessed to hating to remember their wedding day.
Lastly on Wedding Food, Drinks and Venue Budgeting and Planning
Controlling the guest list size and the venue cost is one of the best ways to cut down the wedding budget and still have a glam wedding in Nigeria. You don’t have to invite everybody. Ask yourself this: is it more important to have many guests attend or to give an unforgettable treat a smaller amount of people with a sumptuous meal, great dancing, and an unforgettable party experience?
You can find ways to take care of people who you could not invite. You can decide to have an after-wedding house party for neighbors and relatives or send souvenirs/ wedding favors to colleagues.
The bigger your guest number, the more you’ll pay for food/ drinks and venue. If you manage to cut down your huge guest number, you are not likely to overspend on your wedding, even if you do not cut down other areas of wedding expenses. But if you didn’t how planning for too many guests is the main reason why wedding costs are high, you risk over-spending on food, drinks, and venue space; and later managing the leftover money to hire cheap, unprofessional vendors. That is what happens when couples host shabby wedding events. Don’t make that mistake – because you now know better.
Over-the-Top Venue Decoration Cost
Technically, how large the number of guests you plan to have, will determine how big the cost of your wedding. The guest count controls how big or small many other wedding expenses will be. So, you see, instead of scratching the surface and thinking of getting cheaper low-quality vendors (photographers, MC, DJ), why not consider reducing that guest count a bit. A wedding is better when fewer people are there and everything from food, music, and venue is top-notch, and the photos you get after the wedding are of good quality.
Therefore, your guest list number is the first and best place to start cutting things down if you’re faced with a huge wedding budget. It may even be the only thing you reduce. If you don’t have an unlimited supply of money (well, no one does), a good idea to reduce wedding expenses is to cut your cost according to your pocket size. And that begins with controlling your guest list size.
Once you reduce your guest count, every other thing will drop down (venue requirement and cost, catering cost and planner and venue decoration service charge). If you can control those, you can drastically reduce your wedding cost, and be able to have a low budget Nigerian wedding.
That’s it on how to have a low-cost wedding by controlling the two biggest wedding costs – food and venue (determined by the size of your guest list). And you now know that reducing your guest list number is the quickest way to cut down a wedding cost.
READ NEXT – WEDDING COST PLANNING TIPS:
- Sample Wedding Budgets from Other People’s Weddings
- Wedding Budget Calculator and Expense Allocation Percentages
- How to Plan an Inexpensive Wedding: Everything You Need
- How to Plan a Traditional and White Wedding Same Day
Now, it’s your turn: tell me, how many guests do you plan to invite to your wedding? What are you doing to keep the cost of your wedding food and venue within what you can afford? Tell me in the comments down below.