How Many Wedding Guests Should We Expect?

wedding guest list
Photo by Bright Bird Photography

Q: I’m in a bit of a dilemma. Our wedding venue can only accommodate 90 people, but I’m unsure if I should invite more than 90 wedding guests in case less people show up. I’d love to invite 125, but also worry about having enough space if more than 90 decided to show up. How many wedding guests can we expect?- Jennifer

I am SO glad you wrote in…because this is a biggie! First and foremost, let me get this out of the way: If your wedding venue can only accommodate 90 people, DO NOT INVITE MORE THAN 90 PEOPLE. This is SUPER IMPORTANT. Here’s why…

On average, if you invite LESS than 200 guests you can expect 85% of your guest list to show up. If you invite MORE than 200 people, expect around 75%. But this is real life, not a math equation. So many factors come into play with a wedding guest list and trying to figure out who is going to come or not. Big issues include whether you’re having a destination wedding, or if you’re planning on sending out your wedding invitations at least 6-8 weeks ahead of time.

Despite the fact that more likely than not LESS people will show up than you invite, if you’re dealing with a venue capacity issue or budget issue, you don’t want to play that game OR give yourself the added stress. I have heard from countless brides who invited dozens more people than they were able to thinking that less would show up…and whaddya know? They had either ALL their invited guests show up or only 3 or 4 guests that replied “NO.”

What I suggest is that you create two wedding guest lists. First, create a list of people you would invite if space and/or money was no issue. Then, I would create a second wedding guest list with your maximum number allowed and then send out your wedding invitations to that list as soon as possible (even if it’s well before the 8 week target date), with a response date of 4-5 weeks before your wedding. Even though RSVP etiquette says to ask for your RSVP’s 2-3 weeks prior to your wedding, I say the sooner the better. Once you start getting your “NO’s” in….then and only then can you invite more people from your dream wedding guest list.

On a side note, I would also urge you not to fill your wedding venue to capacity, which is why you might consider a slightly smaller guest list in the first place. You know the space and what it can comfortably fit, but keep in mind that you never want a room to be filled to the gills.


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