Planning a wedding is a big deal, whether you’re dreaming of a cozy gathering with just a few of your closest friends and family or a big, extravagant celebration. One of the most important things you’ll need to think about as the big day approaches is figuring out who to invite.
If you’re wondering how many guests you should invite to your wedding, most weddings have 100-150 guest on average, and only 75% – 85% of invited guest eventually make it to the wedding.
Read on for more important things you should keep in mind as you put together your guest list for the wedding of your dreams.
There is no one-fix-all answer to how many people you should invite. As you draw up the guest list, you’ll have to consider key factors, such as your budget, venue, and personal preferences. If budgeting isn’t a concern, you can invite as many people as you want -lots or just a few.
How to Curate Your Wedding Guest List: Key Factors to Consider
Here are some of the most widely considered factors by couples looking to draw up a fitting guest list for their wedding day.
What Do You and Your Spouse Want for Your Big Day?
How have you both imagined the wedding of your dreams? Just you lovebirds, with few witnesses, all smiles before the officiating minister. Or have you always wanted everyone to be there? Family and friends are on the side, cheering you both on as you’re pronounced married.
You’ll find a huge difference between a small, intimate wedding and a grand celebration. There’s nothing wrong with any of the two, just a matter of preference.
A smaller affair is often quieter and allows you to see and recognize every face and receive personal greetings.
On the other hand, a wedding of over 250 guests may not allow you to greet everyone individually. But you’ll have everyone around to celebrate you and your honey, cheering you on and making the event memorable.
Therefore, you and your spouse would have to decide how to go. It may become necessary to sacrifice certain expectations here and there, especially if your wedding dreams are vividly different. You’d have to meet in the middle to decide what would be best for both parties.
What’s Your Budget for the Wedding?
The wedding budget is one of the biggest influences on the number of guests you can invite for your big day. According to research by Zola, in 2023, between $20,000 and $40,000 is the average wedding budget for most couples.
Your wedding budget should be restricted to something you can comfortably afford and still have sufficient left after the wedding. This is a conversation you’d have to be intentional about having when planning with your spouse.
How much can you currently afford? For example, if what you have is $2000, then you’ll have to factor in the cost of rentals, wedding invitations, food, programs, drinks, etc.
The average cost of entertaining a guest at weddings is currently about $307. This can give you a rough idea of what it would cost if, for example, you’re planning for 100 guests.
If you find that funding a big wedding would stress your finances, there’s nothing wrong with limiting the guest count to a few immediate family members.
The key here is to decide on a realistic budget for your planned number, create a breakdown of all expenses and the cost per guest, add all miscellaneous and stick with the budget. This is one of the primary ways to evaluate the number of guests you’d want at your wedding.
Another thing that often affects the wedding budget is the wedding venue.
You can rent a hotel or resort as your wedding venue if you intend to go all out. This will likely come equipped with glamorous facilities, a beautiful environment, and expert staff ready to serve your guests in style. Another benefit of this kind of venue is that it offers accommodation for you and your guests, saving everyone the stress of driving through town.
If, on the other hand, you prefer a more intimate ceremony, you can host your guests in a private backyard—yours or your parents’. This lends a personal touch to the wedding while helping you and your guests relax more easily within an already familiar environment.
Who Makes the Final Decision?
If you and your fiance take total responsibility for the wedding, then it’s easier to decide how you want everything to go between yourselves. However, if other key players contribute financially to the event, these decisions would require more conversations with these stakeholders.
You should sit down with these people about what you two lovebirds desire for your big day. But that’s sometimes easier said than done, though, isn’t it?
Why Should You Curate a Guest List?
Making a list of guests to be invited is critical to the success of a wedding. Here are a few reasons why:
It Helps to Create a Realistic Budget
Curating a concise guest list helps you make fewer assumptions. Consider your current budget and realistically answer the question of if it would be enough to cover all you’re inviting. After that, you can decide how to streamline your budget or increase it (if you don’t mind) to accommodate all your guests.
It Helps to Remember Important Guests
Curating a guest list ahead of the event helps you remember every possible name you would love to include. Many couples unintentionally forget to invite people who’re important to them because they either didn’t compile a guest list or did it in a rush.
It Helps to Avoid Troublemakers
Hosting an event where people can walk in can open the door to all individuals. There’s an increased possibility that people you don’t want (e.g., known troublemakers) will be present and dampen your morale or make your guests uncomfortable.
However, with a well-collated and monitored list, you can keep a lid on everyone that comes and avoid any trouble.
You Can Dictate Your Wedding Vibe
Many times, the kind of guests present at a wedding dictate the kind of vibe the entire affair will give. It’s your wedding day, a day to really look forward to. Therefore, you’d want to surround yourself with family and close friends who will shower you with the kind of love and attention you deserve on your big day. Collating a guest list can help you identify and invite the right guests.
Other Tips to Consider as You Plan Toward Your Big Day
As you collate your guest list in preparation for your big day, here are a few things to bear in mind:
Don’t Assume Everyone Will or Won’t Attend
It’s best practice to avoid making assumptions about who will or won’t attend your wedding. Yes, make assumptions for the sake of your budget, but there’s usually no certainty about who will or won’t show up.
Most guests will respond affirmatively to wedding invitations. But a few people—even loved ones—may miss out due to various reasons such as health concerns, distance, etc. This is usually unavoidable. Sometimes, life happens, and even those who have confirmed attendance may cancel at the last minute.
Additionally, sometimes couples, out of politeness, extend invitations to people who they don’t want to invite. They’re certain, for reasons known to them, that these people won’t attend, and they expect them to decline or not respond at all. This may turn out to be an erroneous move if the invited guests respond affirmatively. Inviting only guests you’d love to see at your wedding is better. Avoid assuming that certain guests won’t come.
Don’t Forget the Little Things
Food and drinks are top of the list and easy to remember. However, other things like the wedding reception lighting, flowers, and others are often easily forgotten.
To avoid forgetting the little things, it’s best practice to form a writing habit during this period. Write down everything you need as you recall it. You can also consult more experienced folks when drawing up your list. Hiring an event planner can lessen the burden of remembering and monitoring too many things if you have an all-out celebration. If you can’t afford to hire one, you can assign some of these responsibilities to your closest friends, who wouldn’t mind.
Consider Kids and Plus Ones
Remember to think about the extras when curating the guest list. Wedding guests may not often come alone; friends may come with their fiances, and family members with kids may bring them down; there are no defined regulations against that. To avoid a rowdy event, especially if you’re aiming for a more intimate wedding, proper etiquette states that you set your rules about extra guests and make everyone aware of them long before the event.
Handling People Who Didn’t Make the Invite List
This is a delicate matter that needs to be handled with extra care, especially when you and your spouse only want to invite very few people (or no one).
The best approach is to inform your friends and family ahead of the event. It may be an awkward conversation, but you’ll find it’s better to do that early enough than when it’s too close or, even worse, after the wedding.
Please contact them and explain that you’re working with a limited wedding budget. Most people would understand and wish you well.
How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding?
The budget, venue, and personal preferences are all key factors in finding the right answer to this question. If everything is in place, you can invite as many people as you want, lots or just a few.
What Is the Average Wedding Size?
Most weddings have fewer than 200 guests. According to research carried out by the Knot the average guest count at a wedding ceremony is 105, while 2022’s wedding attendance is projected at 129 guests.
What Percentage of Guests Invited Eventually Attend?
There’s no way to get an exact figure, but as a rule of thumb, it’s better to assume that 90 percent will respond affirmatively to your invite, but only 75-85 percent will make it down.
How Much Does a Typical Wedding Guest Cost on Average?
According to Value Penguin, it costs $307 to host an average guest in the US today.
How Can I Invite More People to My Wedding Without Increasing Our Budget?
You may need to trim off other expenses to invite more people than your current budget can take. An example is finding an alternative, less expensive wedding venue. That would leave you with more money to add to your budget.
So, how many people should you invite to your wedding? Ultimately, only you and your spouse can answer this question, having considered all factors. You could also consult your loved ones and other key decision-makers, but your final decisions about your guest list will depend on your budget and your idea of your dream wedding.