When planning your wedding, the first question you need to answer is how much do I have to spend? This is your target budget. Why target, because everyone goes over their budget. And typically the bigger the budget, the more over it you will go.

Next, you need to think about how many guests you will have at your wedding. Is it a small, intimate gathering, or a large affair? Now if you are among the lucky few that have an unlimited budget, then your guest count doesn’t matter.  Feel free to invite you preschool BFF and your father’s third cousin. But depending on your budget, you may need to take a hard look at the number of names on your guest list.

Just like with any other type of budget, weddings have fixed and variable costs; those variable costs are typically expenses that are associated with the number of guests. This is especially true when planning your reception. Everything from food and beverage, tables, chairs, china, glassware, linens, flowers, and favors are all priced per person, per dozen, or per table. Ultimately, they are all based on your guest count.

The final piece after determining your budget and approximate guest count is to determine the style of your wedding.  Perhaps the easiest way to pinpoint your style is to dig out those wedding magazines you bought, or head over to Pinterest to look at the wedding photos you have pinned. What do those pins and the pages you dog-eared have in common? That will give you the idea of what kind of wedding style you gravitate toward.

Sundress Wedding

Do you like more casual weddings? Do you envision something where your guests are in a backyard, probably under a tent, or maybe in a barn? This would be a wedding where your guests can wear cute sundresses and sandals, the guys are probably in a button-down shirt with no ties. Essentially it’s the nicest garden party or backyard barbecue you will ever host. No, I’m not suggesting that you serve hamburgers and hot dogs at your wedding. But you might be having really good locally-sourced smoked beef brisket, a macaroni and cheese bar, and be serving sweet tea and lemonade in mason jars. You are probably using padded garden chairs and white or ivory linens lap-length linens.   Your guest are eating on disposable plates. You might be using those same mason jars in your centerpieces with baby’s breath, hydrangeas, or local wild flowers.

Cocktail Wedding

So perhaps instead of sundresses, you are thinking something a little more formal. Maybe your guests are wearing cute cocktail dresses with high heels and the guys have on ties and sports coats. You might still be in a tent or a barn, but you are having floor-length linens with maybe a runner or overlay, and china plates and silver flatware. You are spending more on your centerpieces with roses and lilies, and perhaps a peony or two. And you might has splurged on chiavari chairs. You are probably still having a buffet, but your menu is a little more elevated, maybe a stuffed chicken breast and roast beef carving station. The salad and bread basket however were preset or served, and you’ve added some passed appetizer to your cocktail hour.

Formal Wedding

Or perhaps you always envisioned a black-tie affair – the women in long, beautiful dresses and the guys in suits and tuxedos. This is the most formal of the wedding styles. Your reception may be in a hotel ballroom, or in a clear-topped tent. As your guests arrive, they are being greeted with waiters passing glasses of champagne. You have an abundance of fresh, fragrant flowers, you have picked specialty linens for your tables, and you are using beautiful glass chargers at each place setting. There are no disposables to be found, everything is served on bone china with silver-plated flatware, and you’ve rented rack-after-rack of sparkling glassware for the bar. You are having a three-course plated affair, complete with table-side wine service, and a champagne toast for all.

The Wedding Sweet Spot

With an idea as to the budget, numbers of guests, and they style you like, now it’s time to see if you can make it all work. If you envisioned a formal wedding, are you willing to limit the number of guests? Or would you rather have a more casual affair and be able to invite 300 of your closest family and friend. With this knowledge, you can find your wedding sweet spot, and the wedding planning can begin.

Menu Examples:

Sundress WeddingBarbecue Menu, Tables of 10 with White Garden Chairs, Ivory Lap-Length Linens, Basic Centerpiece, $35 per person

Cocktail WeddingTwo Entrée Buffet, Limited Open Bar, Tables of 8 with Floor-Length Linens, Chivari Chairs, China & Glassware, Roses & Hydrangea Centerpiece, $70 per person

Formal Wedding: Duo Entrée Plated Dinner, Full Open Bar with Tableside Wine Service, Specialty Linens and Chiavari Chairs, All China & Glassware, Large Elegant Flower Arrangement on each table, $125 per person.

Type A Catering – Diane Kellum