Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Can Save You $1000, Right Here, Right Now

Keeping a wedding on budget is difficult. Things cost more than a bride anticipated, last minute guests to add to the guest list, little things pop up that weren't planned for on the original budget, and not knowing for sure how many people will actually show up.

I am always promoting my 60% Rule to brides (see article in this blog) but I also encourage other wedding vendors to use this rule to help a bride stay in budget so she can afford the things she wants for her wedding.

I had a fellow cake artist share with me the story of a bride who had a $600 budget but she wanted a cake that was going to total $1000. The cake artist was telling me she wanted to help this bride but just couldn't drop her pricing by $400.

The solution is an easy one.

Turns out this bride had invited 300 guests and was figuring 250 would show up. With my 60% Rule (60% of those invited will actually show up), I figured she'd have about 180-200 guests at her reception.

First I told my cake friend, "She only has to come up with $400 to get the cake of her dreams. Assuming she's getting her dinner for only $20 a person, that means she has to trim her invite list by 20 people (20 people x $20/each = $400). We're now in an attainable number range. Somehow, it seems easier to rule out 20 guests than it does to come up with $400!

But ... back to saving this bride $1000.

I suggested to my cake artist friend that she should educate the bride on the 60% Rule and show her that she can reduce her expected head count by about 50 people. This will save her much more than the $400 she needs for the cake. Reducing expected headcount by 50 people means she will also save on the following:

7 fewer tables to rent (8 guests per table) at $7/table = $49 saved
50 fewer chairs to rent at $3/chair = $150 saved
50 fewer chair covers at $3 each plus 50 fewer sashes at $1 each = $200 saved
50 fewer dinners to buy at $25 each (assume $20 each plus the mandatory tip and service fee) = $1250 saved
50 fewer appetizers to buy at $12 each = $600 saved
50 fewer on the bar tab at $16 each = $800 saved
50 fewer favors to make/buy at $3 each = $150 saved

Total saved so far? $3199

And I saved it in about 3 minutes, without breaking a sweat. AND ..... the bride didn't have to compromise on any of her foods or selections.

I have said it over and over: Getting control of the expected headcount is THE Number One method to saving money and staying inside a wedding (or any event) budget. Vendors can also use this to help a bride see that she can afford the things she wants when she's not paying for the guests who will NOT show up. (Pssst! And RSVP's do NOT work. For 30 years I have ignored RSVP numbers and went with my 60% Rule. My 60% Rule was always more accurate!)

I can't tell you how many brides were thrilled when I showed them how they COULD afford the chocolate fountain once they got their headcount under control. The bride spent less than she anticipated, got more than she expected and I made a bigger sale.

This method is a win-win for everyone.


  1. Have you ever had this math go wrong? I'd be terrified that if I talked a bride down, that it would be the one time they had everyone show up and everyone want cake.....

  2. Suzy, no I've never had the problem. Part of the planning is a little common sense. If they 60% number came to 150, I might recommend they go with 175 as the 150 might cut it a little close. But I was also a caterer who let them reduce their headcount if they wanted/needed to, something that is a bit rare in the catering world. More than one bride told me "We should have gone with your 60% number to start with because that's what it ended up being!"