How Many Wedding Invitations to Order: Deciding on the Right Size Wedding

When it comes to wedding planning, you’ll have to consider everything from deciding on the officiant to how many wedding invitations to order. Planning your special day takes an ample amount of forethought as well as layers and layers of considerations, from food allergies and strategic seating arrangements to libations and beverage service.

Determining the right number of wedding invitations to order is crucial for ensuring that all your guests receive an invitation while avoiding unnecessary waste. Consider factors such as your guest list size, whether you’re inviting couples or individuals, and if you’re including additional guests for a plus-one. By carefully assessing these factors and following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to order the perfect quantity of wedding invitations and avoid any potential headaches or oversights on your special day.

In this article, we’ll touch specifically on how to decide on the right size wedding for your big day, including how many wedding invitations to order, if extras are necessary and what to do if you ordered too many wedding invitations. 

How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding?

This is a commonly asked question, though it is a deeply personal choice between you and your sweetheart. Technically, all you need to get married is the proper paperwork, an officiant, a Declaration of Intent (traditional vows can go here) and the Pronouncement or Proclamation that the couple is legally married.

In short, you don’t have to invite a soul beyond the officiant and your local state’s legal requirement for the number of witnesses (usually one or two) if you don’t want to — but many people want to share the experience of their wedding with their family.  

If you’re interested in what the average American wedding size is, most people invite between 150-200 people to their wedding — though there are some who invite significantly fewer folks or significantly more. 

The number of people you invite to your wedding depends on a number of factors, from your budget to the type of celebration you want to host. Obviously, the fewer people you invite, the more room you have for things like hiring an exquisite caterer or baker, finding an incredible venue, a talented DJ, a full-service, all-inclusive bar or even planning a destination wedding!

In the following sections, we will detail how the number of people you invite to your wedding can dramatically impact some practical decisions you have to make, not least of which is how you want to set the mood for your celebration.

Consider the Vibe You Want to Go for

Alright, take a pause in the frantic wedding planning and ask yourself: what is YOUR ideal night? How do you want to feel? Calm and centered? Ready to party and drink tequila? Surrounded by community, good food and good music?

Aside from birthdays, there aren’t too many days where you get to relish being the center of attention and planning a party that is all about you and your sweetheart. Before you can decide how many wedding invitations to order, you will have to ask yourself the following questions.

What Type of Bar Do You Want?

If providing a wide array of tempting libations is important to you in terms of getting the mood going for your big party, consider how much you are willing to spend on a bar and what kind of bar service you are going to provide. All-inclusive bar services (also sometimes called an open bar) can cost between $2,000 and $3,000 — so keep that in mind with budgeting.

Other options, like a cash bar (where guests pay per drink), are not always as popular with your loved ones, but they can keep costs down while also regulating any rowdiness of the party. Another consideration would be a “dry” bar or at least offering alcohol-free drinks, like kombucha mocktails, shrubs, lemonades and more.

Looking to Impress Relatives?

Is the goal of your wedding to make an impression on family members as a “thank you” for traveling to your wedding? How much will you put aside for your aesthetic or decorative budget? Where will you host your wedding and what kind of impact will that make on your guests, and how will this decision impact the number of people you decide to invite?

What Is Your Budget? What Is Important to You and Worth Spending Money On?

In short, you are going to have to ask yourself what your priorities are when it comes to budget. If your aim is to include as many friends and family members as possible, sacrifices must be made in other areas, such as the cost of the venue, location of the celebration, caterers and libations and even wedding styling and design. 

Looking for a Romantic, Intimate Wedding?

If you’re looking to keep things extra sweet, dreamy and intimate, consider inviting fewer people, like 50 or less! This not only opens up more room in your budget for fun ways to treat your guests, such as thank-you gifts, the best catering and bar service money can buy, a comfortable venue and a great DJ — but it can also be money put towards your honeymoon with your sweetheart.

This is the type of wedding where you might splurge on the nice vintage champagne, hire a chocolatier or go above and beyond to create a warm, cozy and intimate setting for your friends and family. Love will be in the air, believe us!

Want to Show Off with Luxury, Opulence and Abundance?

Maybe you have other things in mind, like inviting everyone in your contacts to show them the level of abundance you have in your life! This may change the mood a bit and require catering service like buffet style, which is slightly cheaper but no less delicious.

The more people you invite to your wedding, the more opportunity you set yourself up for returning invites down the road, making connections with people and generally networking. This type of wedding might be more formal, so consider if that’s something you want to go for.

Demonstrating Homegrown, Traditional Values?

If family is important to you, you may consider throwing a party that is less “you” centric and more “us” centric. Get your uncle’s favorite beer on tap and play music from decades past that the whole family can enjoy. The familiar atmosphere means you may not have to go over the top with design, catering or any other form of pomp and circumstance and focus on the stuff that matters — bonding with family. 

Want to Offer Guests an Unforgettable Experience?

Of course, there is always the option to go for a destination wedding. Whether you plan this in the Sicilian countryside, Tokyo or Las Vegas, budgeting to make things as easy on your guests as possible (such as offering to pay luggage fees or hotel accommodations) could also significantly limit the number of people you invite. But hey — life is all about trying out new experiences, right?

How Many Wedding Invitations to Order

So now that you’ve considered some of the nuances behind how to prioritize your budgeting to provide the type of experience you’re hoping to provide for yourself and your guests, you likely have a better idea of how many wedding invitations to order well in advance of your big day.

So whether you’re hoping to have the biggest wedding in your family history or are looking to keep it simple with a few dear friends and an officiant, there is no wrong way to get married — as long as it feels authentic to who you are and the values you share with your partner.

When Should I Send Wedding Invitations?

Proper etiquette here is to send wedding invitations well in advance of the wedding — ideally six to eight weeks in advance. If you are planning a wedding for which folks will have to travel (especially international travel), even more time before the wedding is customary. For destination weddings, try to send invitations closer to three months beforehand, if not more, so folks can grab the most affordable flights and accommodations possible. 

Should I Order Extra Wedding Invitations?

When it comes to ordering wedding invitations, no matter how meticulously you’ve counted your friends, family and any surprise distant relatives that may show up, you’re only human. You may carry on with daily life and encounter someone relatively last minute that you’d like to invite, or maybe you somehow spaced your worldly and adventurous friend who happens to be in town for the special day.

As a general rule of thumb, you should order 10-20 more wedding invitations than you think you will need. These can come in handy should you have made even the slightest of miscalculations — and ordering in bulk is always cheaper than ordering invitations one by one as you need them!

What to Do With Leftover Wedding Invitations

While it is possible to over-order your wedding invitations, this is not something to lose any sleep over. In fact, there are multiple ways you can repurpose your leftover wedding invitations — even if you didn’t use a single one of your safety buffers of 20 extra invites! Aside from just keeping one in your filing cabinet for posterity, there are many other things you can do with an unmailed invitation. Here are the top five ways to use leftover wedding invites!

1. Make an improvised notebook: 

It’s no secret that most wedding invitations are printed on high-quality paper, usually with beautiful aesthetic embellishments, such as swirling lines, flowers, a watercolor effect or something else. By carefully cutting these up into uniform pieces, you can take notes as needed on a cute, homemade notepad. 

2. Make a collage or scrapbook: 

Want to make art with your unsent invitations? Try cutting them up, painting on them, throwing them into a scrapbook for your big day or making art that is in some way inspired by the decorations, like a painting, a sculpture or even an edible creation.

3. Create a beautiful memento to frame: 

Some people hang their degrees, awards and accolades on the wall — so why not frame your wedding invitation with some dried flowers and hang it on the wall to remember your special night? This can be a beautiful reminder of the promises you made each other during your ceremony and can also be an act of love and commitment for whatever the future holds. 

4. DIY a wedding ornament with the date and names visible: 

Whether you fashion a creative, three-dimensional orb out of thin strips of your wedding invitation or simply punch a hole and run a beautiful ribbon through it, keeping a wedding invitation as a Christmas ornament can spark joy to think of the fun you had on your wedding night as you incorporate new traditions into your family.

5. Donate to kids: 

What kid doesn’t love cutting up paper and scribbling on it? You could provide hours of engagement, creativity and joy by donating your leftover wedding invitations to your local elementary school, preschool or daycare center. While it’s not likely this sort of donation is tax deductible, at the very least, you would be rewarded with a couple of smiles!

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Planning the Wedding of Your Dreams? Size Does Matter

When it comes to planning how many wedding invitations to order, you have to already have a pretty good idea of your total budget, your goals and how that money is going to be allocated. For example, if it’s really important to you to have an ice sculpture and a fire dancer at your wedding, that might mean a few less invites to send out, a few less mouths to feed, a few less drinks to pay for and the opportunity for a smaller, less expensive venue. 

In deciding how many people to invite, you’ll need to understand your priorities in terms of what kind of experience you want to provide your guests — and just how much you want to indulge yourself and your sweetheart, too.

When it comes to the size of your wedding, it really does matter — particularly if you’re planning a destination wedding Crete or Morocco, for example — as it dictates the quality and uniqueness of the experience you are able to provide your loved ones. 

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