We get asked all the time...Who is included in the guest count? Does the wedding party count? Do children count? Do vendors count? Does the couple count? The short answer is yes. Generally all of those people count but it can depend on the venue. Generally speaking anyone a venue must prepare to host or who contributes towards the capacity of the venue is included in the guest count. That includes you and your sweetie!
I know many couples feel as thought the bridal party shouldn't count because they are participants and not taking up seats. It doesn't work that way. If your wedding or reception is in a venue that is offering food, it does not matter what role the guests play. The venue has to prepare food and drink for every person whether they are standing or sitting in a chair. That is why typically the couple is also included in the guest count...unless you don't plan on eating or drinking at your own wedding. When there is no food involved, the venue still has capacity limitations they need to adhere to. Again it does not matter what role or capacity people play in the wedding, their head still counts towards that capacity restrictions.
Children are sometimes a little more flexible. Generally, if it is an infant or small child will not be included in the guest count if they will be sitting in a parents lap. However, if the child will sit and eat on his or her own, they will be counted. The good news is most venues have different menus and cheaper pricing for children so you won't pay the same as an adult plate. Be sure to ask about pricing and menus options available for children.
Vendors such as the photographer, videographer, DJ, band, etc. are not included as guests. However, they are considered when it comes to food. They will be spending hours upon hours with you and they certainly expect to eat. Again, most venues have a specific menu for vendors which is usually less expensive. Vendors also eat in a different location away from the guests so they don't count towards capacity either.
To be safe count everyone's head and be sure to ask for vendor and children's meals to cut down on cost.