Lovely Advice: A Little Tip for Budgeting Food & Beverage

{Soul Mates Photo}

Today’s tip is a quick one, referring to one of your biggest budget busters - the food and drinks! This is something I tell all of my brides (and engaged friends, for that matter!) - and it’s simple. When booking your venue, make sure to a) find out the deadline for final numbers and b) always give your venue 3-5 less than you are assuming will attend.


Well, your venue is going to charge you up to a certain number, and while you can always add to that number, you might not be able to reduce as easily. So if you’re afraid Aunt Milly or your old college buddy Jon won’t be able to make it, assume they won’t. This way, you’re not stuck paying for people who don’t end up coming.

By giving an assumption of 3-5 less people, you can possibly save yourself some extra $ if the unknowns decide not to show. And if they do, great - you can give your final final up to 2-3 days before the event. Just double check your contract to see when your final numbers are due, and lowball your estimate until then. Trust me, it will save you money if you have any doubt!

  • libby says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Great tip. I was so nervous about final numbers, but at least 5 people canceled the last week. Someone broke up with a girlfriend, someone got sick, etc., etc. I could have saved a few bucks easily.

  • Keisha (with a K) says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Great tip! I lowballed for the initial numbers but I didn’t think I could do it for the final. That’s totally going to save me some dough. Thanks!

  • Carly S says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    This might not work for everyone though- our venue wanted our seating chart to set up tables and chairs. I would assume she checked the number of chairs against the number of people I said would be eating.

  • Erika {Borrowed&Bleu} says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for the great advice!

  • Jessica says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Excellent tip and so true!

  • Jessica@TWB says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Everyone just needs to check their specific circumstances like Jacin said. But generally it is true that venues/caterers are more willing to accommodate an increase rather than a decrease in guests once it gets close to wedding day.

  • Alexa says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Such a true and great tip! Love the photo too!

  • postcards and pretties says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    great advice, Jacin

  • birdie to be says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Great advice! And pretty picture!

  • Dancy says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    That wouldn’t have worked for us - our venue wouldn’t have allowed it (we tried LOL). What DID we do to save some cash on it? We asked to see ALL the menus they offer - the non-wedding menus tend to be cheaper & just as great food. Maybe it’s tilapia instead of salmon, etc but it’s still a great dish. ;)

  • jill@teenagebride says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    better to have to add than to end up paying for no shows…. we learned that the hard way

  • Danielle says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Spot on suggestion. We gave a final count the month before to have them order food and underbid the total and then added the last bit the week before. We gave the final number a week in advance and of course the day of 5 people did not show.

    JUST DIDNT show, no calling, no cancelling, nada.
    So rude.!
    So expect it!

  • claire @ a realistic wedding says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Great tips, my love! Our food/beverage budget was definitely a slap in the face. Going into it, we had NO idea how much it could cost. When we got the estimate, we were completely flabbergasted. It’s definitely a big part that you don’t think costs as much as it does.

  • Naomi says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Spot on! Since I’m the one that gives the venue the final numbers I always reduce it. Great advice and thanks for stopping by the blog, lovey!

  • Amma // Beyond Beyond says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Solid advice, you never know what will happen at the very last minute.

  • Lena says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    I think there will always be a few people who can’t make it-such a good suggestion!

  • Alicia @CharityWedding says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    Great tip!!

  • The Perfect Palette says on September 20, 2011 Reply

    lovely tips, Jacin! Hope you’re having a really great week.

    xo, chrissy

  • Christie O. {Hindsight Bride} says on September 21, 2011 Reply

    Great advice indeed! It’s so nerve racking to not have a final count when the caterer needs it because guests are late with the RSVPs!

  • Victoria says on July 26, 2012 Reply

    Depending on the crowd, this advice may be counterproductive.

    Think about who you invited and if anyone may haphazardly bring along extra people.

    In some Latino cultures, it’s not uncommon for people to tag along.



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