Shortly after you get engaged and before you start looking at venues, you’ll want to get a sense of your budget and your guest list, since one will definitely influence the other. The good news? Once you finish your guest list you’ll have one of the most annoying parts of planning DONE. The bad news? Figuring out who to invite to your big day can be a frustrating experience to say the least. But before you prepare to stress, use this guide to figure out not only how many people you should invite to your celebration, but what kind of wedding you want. So, let’s dive in!
First things first, lets look at some guest list facts:
What is the average number of guests for a wedding?
While the past couple of years has prompted couples to have a smaller guest list, on average it tends to hover around 130-150 guests. With that said, there are couples who opt to have smaller, micro weddings (defined as 50 or less guests). Larger weddings are typically over 150 guests.
What percentage of wedding guests actually attend?
The number of guests that will RSVP “Yes” to a wedding depends on a few factors. While it has been lower for 2020 and 2021 weddings, on average you can expect 75%-80% of guests to come. If you’re having a destination wedding, you guest count may dip towards the lower end of that number. However, you should ALWAYS plan for 100% attendance, especially when figuring out your budget and venue capacity. Never invite more people than you can afford OR fit into a space.
Have guests RSVP on your wedding website for faster responses. Minted has a great free option that you can match to your invites.
Should you invite children and plus-ones?
As you come up with your guest list, you’ll want to decide not only if you want children at your wedding, but if you can afford to have single guests to bring a plus one. Once you decide, you’ll want to set a general rule for both. For instance, if you only want to invite your nieces and nephews, your rule for kids should be “immediate family only,” or “kids in the wedding party only.” For plus ones, you can choose to allow all unmarried guests an invite to bring a date or friend. Otherwise, you can choose to give plus ones to guests who are in an established relationship, or if you’ve met their significant other.
WGM Says: All married guests or couples living together should be invited together, even if you’ve never met their significant other!
As you’re thinking about children and plus ones, you should also think about co-workers. There is no rule that says you need to invite your boss or anyone else at work for that matter. However, if you know you want a handful of your work friends there, just make sure you let them know to keep their invite on the DL. And if coworkers keep asking about your wedding? Gently drop the hint in conversation that you’re planning a smaller wedding with mostly family.
How many invites should your parents get?
This can get a little tricky, especially if a certain set of parents are contributing more financially, or not at all. A general rule of thumb is that the guest list is split between the couple and both sets of parents. So if your guest list is 100 people, you and your partner would invite 50 people, and each set of parents would get to invite 25.
If your parents are not contributing financially and insist on inviting way more than you can afford, it’s best to set aside time to talk about what their expectations are, as well as your budget and venue capacities. You can politely remind them that each guest can cost $200+ all in, and let the conversation unfold from there. They might want to contribute more to accommodate their guest list, or the conversation might end there. No matter what you decide, just make sure the tone of the conversation is open, honest, and respectful. Everyone is new to this wedding planning thing, and it can take some gentle reminders from time to time!
How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding?
Now that those guest list basics are covered, here are the steps you should take when coming up with your guest list…
Step 1: Imagine the Wedding Vibe You Want
Does a black-tie ballroom full of lots of people sound like the perfect wedding? Or does a beautiful yet intimate candlelit table with a small dance floor feel more your style? Take time to sit down with your partner and imagine what your dream wedding looks like, and the number of guests on your list will unfold from there. Asking how many people should I invite to my wedding and how many people you WANT to invite to your wedding are two different things! Focus on the latter!
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Step 2: Create Your Dream Wedding Guest List
Before your wedding budget creeps in, you’ll want to sit down with your partner and create a preliminary list of all the people you would invite if budget was not an issue. Just try not to include everybody you’ve ever met! The list should still be focused to people you love, like your family members, close friends, parents’ friends, and more.
Step 3: Have the Dreaded Wedding Budget Conversation
Now that you’ve imagined every dream scenario, reality unfortunately sets in. At this point you and your partner need to have an honest conversation about how much you want to spend on your wedding, including any possible contributions from family members, as noted above.
The average cost of a wedding guest when you factor in food, drinks, rentals, wedding invitations, etc. can range from $200-$500+, and averages $300 in the U.S. according to our recent survey of over 700 couples. While the number of guests you invite will directly impact your budget, you don’t have to max out your guest list just because you can. A $30,000 wedding budget with 80 guests will look a lot different than one with 160, and will allow you more flexibility in terms of your venue, catering, and even the vendors you are able to hire.
WGM Says: Our wedding planning toolkit will walk you through every step of coming up with a wedding budget, plus you’ll get access to our super helpful wedding budget spreadsheets!
Step 4: Start Making Those Tough Decisions
Once your wedding budget is in place, you’ll be able to estimate how many guests you can and want to invite (remember to refer back to your “dream wedding vision” when in doubt).
Next, take your dream wedding guest list and highlight the guests you can’t imagine spending your day without. This includes the “must-have” list of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, etc. whose ability to attend (or not attend) would possibly even cause you to reschedule because they HAVE to be there.
Once you have your A list figured out, you can begin to think about who gets added next. Just keep in mind that not EVERY family member or friend from high school has to be invited! Those second cousins you’ve never met? Cross them off the list if you’re feeling stressed. Questions to ask yourself when deciding who to invite include:
- When was the last time I saw/spoke to this person?
- Would I be sad if they couldn’t attend?
- Was I invited to their wedding?
You can then take the rough guest list and, once you’ve figured out your children and plus one rules we mentioned earlier, you can get a sense of how many people are on it. This can then begin to inform your wedding venue search as well as budget decisions. And remember: It’s OK to create a b list that you can pull from as any “no” RSVPs roll in. Just be sure to send them an invitation as soon as you can. There’s nothing worse than getting an invite with an RSVP by date that’s already passed!
WGM Says: Be sure to order enough invitations to cover any B list invites you’ll want to send. You can schedule a free consultation with a Minted concierge to go over everything you might need.
Step 5: Finalize Your Guest List
When your venue is booked and your guest list is finalized, then fun begins! You’ll want to create your wedding website, then begin collecting addresses of your guests. One of the easiest ways to do this is via an address collection tool. Minted has the most stylish ones we’ve seen, allowing you to send digital address cards that can match the look of your Minted website and invitations.
Save time on your wedding invites with Minted’s digital address cards.
Once you’ve collected all the addresses you need, they’re stored to your address book and can be used later on for holiday cards, baby announcements, and more events for your wedding day.
Have you started your wedding guest list? How’s it going so far? What are your biggest obstacles? Let us know in the comments section below!