You’ve probably heard it before, but it bears repeating: your guest count is one of the biggest cost-adding factors when it comes to your wedding budget. Although many of the weddings we feature on feature guest counts over 150 people, the ones that seem to evoke a more luxurious vibe are the intimate weddings.

Your overall cost increases exponentially for each guest you add to your invite list. Think about it this way: for every guest you’ll need an extra chair, place setting, meal, slice of cake, invitation, program, place card and wedding favor. For every eight to 10 additional guests you can add another table, linen, centerpiece, row of seats at the ceremony, another tier of the wedding cake and you may even need a bigger venue space to accommodate larger numbers.  

When you keep your guest list intimate, it allows you to focus on the people who matter most to you such as your family and closest friends. By keeping the guest list small you can also choose to splurge a bit more in certain areas, treating your guests to a more luxurious event. Not only will your planning process be less complicated logistically, but it also gives you more freedom in spending on your top priorities for the event. 

Winery wedding bells

Take for example the Napa Valley wedding of Patrice and Chad, which was recently featured on our site. Their wedding welcomed 18 total attendants including the bride and groom, and the couple spent less than $10,000. The couple opted to get married in a simple ceremony at the courthouse so that they could host their guests with a memorable reception.

Their biggest expenditures included wedding photography and the venue, Flora Springs Winery in Napa Valley, California. The venue cost accounted for 50 percent of their total budget, which included a fantastic seated dinner, as well as a tour of the winery property and wine tasting for all the guests. This offered all in attendance a unique experience while also celebrating the happy couple and is something they are sure to remember for years to come.

DIY details

To make up for their high-priority splurges, the couple did some DIY projects with the help of their loved ones to keep their spend under budget. The bride’s sister baked the couple’s naked wedding cake, and the couple created custom noisemakers and gold-painted animals to pair with their guests’ place cards. The bride and groom even printed their invitations and stationery at home using supplies they picked up at a craft store for a total cost of under $30. 

Patrice and Chad also incorporated their Hawaiian heritage into their day by folding 1001 origami paper cranes to use as décor, which is believed to bring happiness and good fortune to the bride and groom. I’d say based on their budget savvy wedding planning skills, good fortune in their married life is a sure thing.

Jessica Lehry Bishop runs, a blog where brides-to-be can find a wealth of information on planning a beautiful wedding at wallet-friendly prices.