You might be asking yourself, “How many people should I invite to my wedding?” Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and money. Figuring out how many guests to invite is an issue that sparks much debate (and even outright conflict) with couples and families. In the 1991 film “Father of the Bride”, the disagreement about how many guests to invite is a major part of the wedding drama plotline.
As you and your partner plan the details of your big day, figuring out how many people to invite will greatly shape your other decisions. Because of this, it’s important to figure out how many people to invite early in the process.
The guide below will give you all the information you need to determine how many people you should invite to your wedding. You’ll learn about what factors play into your guest list size. We’ll also provide tips to help narrow your guest list to fit your wedding plans.
How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding?
The size of your wedding guest list depends on a few factors. The biggest factor is budget since reception costs usually depend on the number of people you plan to feed. However, other factors (such as location) can also play a part in determining how many people you should invite.
In 2021, The Knot surveyed readers to find out how many people, on average, are invited to a couple’s wedding. Their survey found that the average couple invites 105 people to their wedding. This number is a good launching point for your discussions about how many people to invite to your wedding.
However, this is just the average. For some couples, inviting 105 people would put them outside the budget they set for their big day. Some couples may choose fewer guests to provide a more intimate atmosphere, even if they can afford a bigger event. Other couples may find that narrowing it down to 105 guests is unfathomable.
In general, not all invited guests show up to your wedding. Most estimates place the number of invited guests in attendance at between 70% and 85%. That means an invite list of around 100 will likely produce 70 to 85 attending guests.
However, it’s important to be prepared in case most or all of your invited guests plan to attend. Don’t assume people will or won’t be there. You shouldn’t invite people just to be polite or to make them feel included, especially if you’re not prepared for everyone on your list to come.
5 Factors That Impact How Many People You Should Invite to Your Wedding
Many things shape your invite list. While there are certainly factors outside of these, the following are the top five factors that impact your decision about how many people you should invite to your wedding.
Unless you have unlimited financial means, your wedding budget will be one of the biggest determining factors in creating your guest list. As you add more people to your invite list, the overall cost of your wedding will increase.
While this is mostly due to the increase in catering costs, other costs increase along with your guest list. For example, inviting more people means having more decorated tables at the reception venue. Although one or two extra people won’t increase this cost, adding another dozen to your guest list will necessitate these added costs.
Most venues will have a capacity limit. Keep this limit in mind as you prepare your wedding invite list. In some cases, your ceremony and reception venues will have different capacities. For example, your ceremony location may have a capacity of 200, but your reception venue may only accommodate 175.
When this occurs, make sure you plan your guest list around the space with the lower capacity. If a large guest list is a priority for you and your partner, explore venues that can comfortably accommodate your party.
3. Overall Vibe
The overall vibe of your wedding also plays a big role in how many people you should invite. If you want a small, intimate wedding, you’ll need to invite fewer people. As you begin planning your wedding, talk to your partner about what they imagine for your big day.
Do you imagine having a huge crowd of friends and family celebrating with you? Will your wedding be a quiet get-together or a massive party? The vibe you’re aiming for may help determine how many people to invite.
4. Family Contributions
Everyone has an opinion on who should be and shouldn’t be invited! Even if you’re just starting your wedding plans, you’ve probably had input from friends and family. If the person isn’t financially contributing to wedding expenses, they should have no say regarding the guest list.
This gets a little stickier when you have relatives (such as your parents) paying for some or all of the wedding expenses. While it may be your big day, you should seriously consider the input of those paying for the wedding. Make sure to have open conversations about the guest list and your expectations around it upfront.
As you build your guest list, remember to include plus-ones and children in your count. Many couples choose to include only plus-ones for married friends, while others extend this to include the long-term partners of friends.
It’s important to keep these extra people in mind when building your guest list. If you invite ten friends who have partners, make sure you’re counting all twenty people. If you choose to include children on your big day, prepare for their presence in your planning.
Check out these other posts on planning for your big day:
- Beach Wedding Guest Dresses and How to Prepare for The Best Destination Wedding
- Wedding Guest Captions
- Large Wedding Guest Books
Including Plus-Ones and Children
When couples create the guest list for their wedding, they often ask, “Do we have to include plus-ones and children?” The answer to this question depends a lot on the type of wedding you’re having and the makeup of your guest list.
When to Include Plus-Ones
Traditionally, guests who are married, engaged or in serious relationships are allowed to bring their plus-one to the wedding. Things get muddled as you try to determine who is and isn’t in a “serious” relationship, though. Because of this, some couples may only invite married or engaged couples. Others flip to the other extreme, allowing all people to bring their date to the wedding.
Many couples today include an invitation for a plus-one for every guest on their list. This includes single friends, who may enjoy the wedding more when bringing a person of their choice. Although a wedding is a celebration of committed love, you can honor your single friends by allowing them to bring a platonic plus-one.
You might also consider extending a plus-one invitation for everyone in your wedding party and any special guests who might not otherwise know anyone (such as a college roommate or your partner’s boss).
When to Exclude Plus-Ones
There are cases where it’s perfectly fine to exclude plus-ones from your wedding invitation list. For example, you might exclude them if you’re only having a small and intimate wedding with immediate family.
You may also choose to go the more traditional route and only invite the plus-ones of guests with firmly established relationships.
When to Include Children
Generally, an invitation to your wedding should include children, especially children of close friends and family. If you choose to include children in the ceremony itself (such as the flower girl or ring bearer), be sure to include their siblings on the invite list.
When to Exclude Children
Many couples prefer not to have children at their wedding. If you plan to have a wedding without children, clearly state that expectation in advance. Make sure you send out your invitations with plenty of time for parents to arrange childcare, especially if the wedding involves traveling a long distance.
While some child-free weddings still include children as the flower girl and ringbearer, many weddings exclude these roles from the ceremony. The choice to include or exclude children is up to you. Just be clear and upfront about your expectations.
Some couples invite children to the ceremony only, choosing an adult-only reception. If this is the plan for your big day, be sure the invitations clearly state this.
How Many Guests to Invite Based on Your Wedding’s Overall Vibe
Besides budget and venue, your wedding’s overall vibe is one of the most significant factors in determining how many people you should invite to your wedding. Use the following guidelines as a starting place to figure out how many people to invite to your wedding.
For this type of wedding, you should generally invite between 2 and 5 people. These weddings are typically laid-back and planned with very short notice. While an elopement can certainly occur at the courthouse, you may plan to hold it at another location.
This kind of wedding is great if you and your partner want to save on costs and avoid the stress of planning. They’re both affordable and flexible, making them a great option for people who want a less traditional wedding.
However, you won’t be able to share your wedding memories with as many people. The few people you invite will have great memories of the intimate occasion, but some couples may regret not inviting others to share their big day.
Close Friends and Family Wedding
For this style of wedding, you should generally invite between 10 and 20 people. This wedding style can balance an elopement’s flexibility and affordability with the extended guest list of a larger wedding.
Couples who choose this wedding vibe like that it allows them to take less traditional routes than a bigger affair allows. For example, there is less expectation that your wedding and ceremony will follow a certain chain of events. The opportunity for personalization has big appeal for people who want their wedding day to reflect their unique personalities.
However, the guest list for this wedding vibe is still small enough that it may be difficult to narrow down your guest list. Some family and close friends may not make it onto your guest list, causing some people to feel left out.
Friends and Family Wedding
For this type of wedding, you should generally invite between 25 and 75 people. This allows you to invite more than close friends and family without the high cost of a larger wedding. Whether you’re going for a homey vibe or a grand celebration, you can provide that feel with 25 to 75 people.
This type of wedding lets you provide the atmosphere you want without the complex planning and high ticket price of a larger celebration. Even with the extended guest list (compared to the two types of weddings listed above), you can still create an intimate atmosphere for those invited to your big day.
However, narrowing your guest list for this type of wedding can still be challenging. There will still be people you want to invite but can’t without going outside the confines of this vibe (and your wedding budget).
For this type of wedding, you should generally invite between 100 and 120 people. It’s considered “classic” for a reason. This sized guest list is typical for a traditional, Western wedding. The guest list is big enough to invite friends, family and co-workers.
A classic wedding is considered a medium-sized wedding by experts in the wedding industry. With this size of wedding, you can invite all the important people in your life plus some. It also allows you plenty of time to mingle with each of your guests during the reception.
However, picking a venue for a classic wedding can sometimes pose challenges. With a hundred people, your celebration will be too large for most small venues. At the same time, it may be too small for a larger venue. You certainly don’t want your reception to look empty! This is why your intended vibe and venue space must be considered when creating your guest list.
For this type of wedding, you should generally invite between 150 and 200 people. With a large wedding, you can invite just about everyone you want to invite. This kind of wedding includes friends of the family, college friends and even people you’ve not talked to in a while.
Large weddings are great if you want a great party atmosphere at your reception. With so many people, you’ll also have no problem finding people to lend a hand when needed. You’ll have more people available to help when last-minute problems arise.
However, the cost of a large wedding can be exponentially higher than a smaller guest list. You’ll need a larger (which means more expensive) venue. The cost of feeding your guests will also make the wedding more expensive. Couples planning a large wedding will also want to hire a wedding planner to help them coordinate all the details of their big day.
This type of wedding has a guest list of 300 or more people. When you choose a giant wedding, you can invite everyone you know (and even some you don’t). Even acquaintances and former co-workers can make it onto a guest list with a giant wedding!
Couples who go this route like that they can invite everyone they know. They don’t have to worry about offending people who didn’t make it onto the list for a smaller wedding. Much like a large wedding, a giant wedding is perfect for creating the ultimate party atmosphere.
However, an invite list this large means you’ll have less time to spend with each of your guests. There’s a solid chance you won’t even be able to talk to everyone who makes it to the event. Another drawback is that a list big enough to include acquaintances leaves you with very little excuse to exclude people you’d rather not see on your special day.
Controlling the Crowd in a Giant Wedding
Controlling a crowd in a giant wedding can be daunting, but with the right strategies and techniques, it can be done effectively.
Controlling a crowd in a giant wedding requires careful planning, clear communication, and effective use of resources.
Here are some tips on how to control the crowd in a giant wedding:
1. Plan ahead
Before the wedding day, it is important to plan ahead and create a detailed timeline of events.
This will help ensure that everything runs smoothly and that guests know where they need to be at all times. It is also important to communicate this timeline to all vendors, including the DJ or band, caterer, and photographer.
2. Use signage
Signage can be a great way to direct guests and keep them informed. Consider using signs to indicate where the ceremony will occur, where the reception is located, and where the restrooms are. You may also want to consider using signs to indicate any special seating arrangements or reserved areas.
3. Hire security
Depending on the size of your wedding, it may be necessary to hire security personnel to help control the crowd. Security personnel can help manage parking, direct guests, and ensure that only those who are supposed to be at the wedding are in attendance.
4. Provide clear instructions
Ensure that guests know what is expected of them throughout the wedding day. This may include instructions on where to park, how to enter the venue, and what time they should arrive.
5. Use technology
There are many technological tools available that can help you control the crowd at your wedding. For instance, you could consider using an app that allows guests to RSVP and receive updates about the wedding day schedule.
6. Have a backup plan
No matter how well you plan, there may still be unexpected issues that arise on the wedding day. Make sure that you have a backup plan in place in case something goes wrong.
What to Do If More People Attended Your Event Than You Invited
If more people attended your wedding than the number you invited, there are several steps you can take to handle the situation.
Firstly, try not to panic or get upset. While it may be frustrating that more people showed up than expected, it’s important to remain calm and handle the situation as gracefully as possible.
Secondly, assess the situation and determine if there is enough space and food for the additional guests. If there is not enough space or food, you may need to politely ask some of the uninvited guests to leave or apologize for being unable to accommodate them.
Thirdly, consider hiring additional staff or renting additional chairs and tables if necessary. This may help alleviate any space or service issues caused by unexpected guests.
Having a backup plan can help you in case of unexpected guests. You could have a separate area set up with additional seating and food in case more people show up than expected.
5 Tips to Help You Choose Your Wedding Guest List
Once you have a good idea of how many people your budget and venue can handle, it’s time to figure out exactly who will and will not be invited to your wedding. The following are five tips to help you choose your wedding guest list.
1. Figure Out Who Needs to Be There
Before you do anything else, determine who must be there. This list includes your wedding party, immediate family and closest friends (plus their plus-ones). These should be the people who immediately come to mind when you think of your wedding celebration. Once you have this list, you’ll know how many spaces you have left to fill.
2. Make Multiple Guest Lists
Create several lists. You might call one your “A-list” and another your “B-list.” Whatever you call them, separate potential guests into lists that classify their priority.
You might want to create a backup list as you narrow down your lists. If people decline the invitation quickly, you can pass invitations on to those on your backup list. Just make sure you do this in a timeframe that prevents these guests from knowing they were backup guests.
3. Write Down All the Guests You Can Think of Before Making Any Cuts
Sit down with your partner (and anyone else whose input you’re considering) and list everyone you want to include. Don’t make any cuts. Instead, write down every name as you think of it. It’s easier to edit that list down than to hold all the potential guests’ names in your mind.
Even if you’re on the fence about whether you want to invite someone, write their name on the list. That way, you’ll have some names that are easier to cut later.
4. Consider Input From Relatives
Although your wedding is your big day, it’s important to consider input from anyone financially contributing to the event. Take time to communicate your hopes and expectations for creating the guest list upfront.
While every family dynamic is different, some families may benefit from creating a certain number of spots for other family members to fill. For example, the couple may choose 90 of 100 guests, while their parents are allowed to invite the remaining ten.
5. Look For Wiggle Room in Your Budget
Sometimes you can’t figure out who you should cut from your invite list. If you’ve determined that your budget will allow 100 guests, but you can’t seem to narrow it down from 100, start looking for wiggle room in your budget.
Cut costs by serving a less expensive meal or creating your own floral arrangements. While you don’t want to cut costs so much that it impacts your guests’ experience, cutting a few expenses may allow you to include more people.
There are lots of guides on how to save money on your wedding. While most of these guides will also include limiting your guest list, they also have practical advice on cutting other costs. Although you may want to make every detail perfect, it might be worth it to sacrifice some things. Ultimately, you need to decide what’s most important to you and your partner for your big day.
Figuring out your wedding guest list is one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding. Unless you have unlimited financial resources, your wedding budget will likely be the biggest factor in determining how many people to invite to your big day.
We hope the tips above help you and your partner create a guest list you can both be happy with. Whether you invite two guests or two hundred, your wedding invitation list will determine who you’ll celebrate with on your big day.