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When we started to look at the budget for our wedding, Nick and I wanted to be realistic. We know we’re savvy, but we would hate to set a budget and have to go way above it. It would only make us feel defeated in the end. Everything I read (and I read a lot!) said the best budget method was expect to pay about $100 per guest (about $50 of that would go toward the reception food/drink and the other $50 would cover all of the other expenses (invitations, decorations, etc.).

Budget Method

(Image via

This seemed like a pretty good rule of thumb to use to figure out our budget. Using this method, we set a budget of $10,000 for 100 guests. Ha! This ended up being a big joke in our wedding town! I do believe those numbers might be doable in other areas, but not OC! Everywhere we looked when we ran the numbers, we were always way above $50 per person. So, we decided to kick our budget up to $12,000. This would give us $120 per person (about $60 for the reception and $60 for the rest). Even though we were marrying in what is technically the off-season, things were adding up quickly!

Even with this number, we realized we were going to have to make guest list cuts, we both have large families and we were already devoting the majority of the guest list to them and we each had a few friends we were inviting. We started by cutting guests from people who were not currently engaged or married. We know that can be considered a faux pas, but our thought was that we are inviting a lot of people from out of state who might not be able to attend. We would tell our guests (mostly our friends) that if we had people decline we would be happy to have them bring a plus one. We know they will understand and if they don’t, they probably won’t come anyway.

Budget Method(Image via:

Right now, we predict that our reception alone will probably cost about $6-7000 (for room rental, food, & drinks). This was a huge chunk of our budget, we would have loved to try and find the best deal in town, but we were running out of options that had dates available at the same time our church was available and that didn't conflict with any major events in Ocean City (like Sunfest or Cruiser Week). We decided to bite the bullet and book The Atrium at the Golden Sands. More on our venue in the future! For now, a sneak peek:

Budget Method (Image via: Erin)

So, how did you make those difficult guest list cuts?

Did you find your initial budget was not enough? If you’re already married, were you able to stay within budget?

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About Erin

I'm Erin, a 29 year old teacher living in Baltimore, MD. I am marrying Nick who is obviously the love of my life, after 8 years together, Nick proposed on December 29, 2011 and we're getting married on October 27, 2012 in Ocean City, MD.

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  • Razan

    My fiance and I decided to pay for our own wedding so as not to burden our parents. We set an initial budget of $5000, which quickly became $10000! I was hoping to stay close to the budget, but with location, food, decorations, etc. it became obvious we would be way over! His family is GINORMOUS, so we had to up the guest number to 225 maximum, and that was with the constant back and forth between us and his parents about finding a happy medium. So far we are staying within our now-increased budget, but since we are still halfway through the planning, we shall see what damage we finally incur! I’m planning on making our invites, guest book, and favors and that should help decrease the cost as well….HOPEFULLY!

    • It’s alot, isn’t it? Your costs definitely increase exponentially for every extra guest you include. It’s so hard to narrow down your lists especially when you have large families. Good luck with everything!! 🙂

      • Razan

        Yes it is! We are really trying to just enjoy the moments…this is the biggest party we’ll be throwing so far, and we want to remember it as fun, interesting, and full of great memories, so we’re trying to keep our head above water and not drown in all the “must haves” that people and wedding magazines say you HAVE TO HAVE you know? We’re mostly looking forward to our honeymoon!

        • $10,000 for 225 people – sounds pretty budget savvy to me!! Best of luck to you and I HEAR you about the big family and things other people say you HAVE TO HAVE!! It’s ridiculous!

          So far, we’ve nixed the honeymoon. While we know it’s important, we just can’t even think about spending money on it until we have a solid grasp on what the wedding will cost…

  • Michelle

    It has amazed me how fast things have added up. I wanted to do a small wedding for around $1000. LMFAO is all I can say. Don’t get me wrong I know it can be done for that amount or smaller but this is also the wedding I did not get the first time around. I thought we would keep our guests below 100, well we are sending out over 100 invites so that didn’t happen. Any how, after talking a lot about it and how to cut expenses we decided – since it is an outdoor wedding in a backyard – to just feed the guests that actually come to the wedding which will be around 50. We will put out drinks and desserts and when the food is gone, its gone. My friends have offered to pitch in to make most of the desserts and think I can feed everyone + cake for less than $350. I’m cutting corners in a lot of ways and just letting go things that the blogs and pinterest say to do. Overall I expect to spend less than $3000 for everything. Biggest thing I am focusing on is that I will be marrying the man I love and have friends and family around that are super important to me.

    • I think it’s definitely a good idea to focus on the reason behind the day! It’s easy to get caught up in ‘all the pretty things’ but the truth is you don’t need most of it to have a beautiful, joyous day! Let us know how it all works out!! 🙂 xoxo

    • Razan

      I totally understand! If it wasn’t for my future parents-in-law, we would be having a hard time figuring out the food situation, but they offered to take care of it for us which is very sweet of them! I agree with you about not doing what everyone else and the websites say…that’s for the birds…the very rich birds!

      • Awesome about the in-laws doing the food – it is a huge help when people offer their services. We have a cousin doing our cake and one of my bridesmaid’s is gifting the DJ – it all adds up!!

    • Sounds to me like you are focusing on all the right things!! I’m guessing you won’t remember what the food tasted like or even what you ate, you’ll remember how you felt and the look on your husband’s face when he sees you for the first time!

      • So so true. In the end it’s the emotional memories that stand out. 🙂

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