How Many Wedding Guests Should You Invite?

March 16, 2017 1 Comment

How Many Wedding Guests Should You Invite?

Have you been wondering how many guests to invite to your wedding? Well, you're not alone. My husband and I asked the exact same question when we were planning our wedding and it was a surprisingly difficult conversation.

There is no right or wrong answer, and it's tough to build a framework to derive an 'optimal' wedding guest list size. Nonetheless we'll hopefully provide enough information to help you decide.

Factor 1: Budget

We've said before that weddings can be very expensive. We've also pointed out that one of the biggest expenses is the wedding reception. So the first question you need to ask yourself is how much you want to spend on your wedding reception as that will be one of the main factors dictating how many people you can invite.

For example, maybe you're thinking of inviting 500 guests to your wedding service and reception. However, catering for 500 guests at a wedding reception venue will probably cost you upwards of $50,000. If your budget is only $10,000, then obviously you'll need to settle for (much) less than your desired guest list size of 500 wedding guests.

Factor 2: The Size of the Church and/or Wedding Reception Venue

Another factor to think about is the size (capacity) of the church and/or wedding reception venue. You might find that the church you want simply won't fit your desired guest list. The wedding reception venue might provide similar constraints.

For example, when planning our wedding, we knew we were going to invite between 80 and 100 people. We came across some beautiful venues when planning our wedding. Unfortunately, some of the venues simply wouldn't fit 80 people. Other venues had a minimum booking of more than 100 people.

In both cases, we could have decided to change the number of people being invited to our wedding. Instead, we decided to stick with our 80-100 people and find churches and wedding reception venues that could accommodate 80-100 wedding guests.

Factor 3: Parents and Cultures

This might sound weird to some of you, but some cultures have traditions and social protocols where wedding invitations are sent to everyone from the father of the bride to the second cousin's neighbour's teacher.

Yes, that's an exaggeration, but I'm talking from experience - my husband and I went through this with his Lebanese family when we got married! Thankfully most of the extended family lived overseas in our case and they couldn't make it to the wedding, so that made our decision on the number of wedding guests easier.

So consult your parents and immediate family early and start to get a rough idea of who they want to invite. You might need to have some tough conversations if you want to keep the size of your wedding guest list small.

On the other hand, you might find it important enough to honour cultural traditions and invite extended relations and family friends. Either decision is fine.

Factor 4: Intimate vs Large Weddings

Another important factor to consider when deciding how many guests to invite to your wedding is whether you want a large wedding where you probably:

  • Won't get a chance to meet and see everyone.
  • Find that you have many guests you have never heard of before (yes, that happens! A friend of ours experienced this at her own wedding!).
  • Get lots of gifts (and who doesn't want lots of wedding gifts!).
  • Have a massive party atmosphere (which can be fun). 

Or, do you go for a smaller wedding where:

  • You personally know all (or almost all) of your guests.
  • Location weddings are an option because you'll probably only have close friends and family in attendance. They will be more likely to pay to attend your wedding at an exotic location.
  • You have more options for wedding reception venues.

It's a surprisingly difficult choice, and we don't envy you!

Factor 5: Location

Another yardstick you can use to determine how many wedding guests to invite is the location of your wedding.

For example, 'location weddings' (where the wedding is held at an exotic location, often overseas) are becoming increasingly popular. If you live in Sydney and want to get married in Hawaii, then you'll probably have to settle on a very small wedding guest list (maybe as small as 10 people).

However, if you're getting married in your home town near your friends and family, you could settle on a larger number of wedding guests.

Sample Framework to Whittle Down Wedding Guest Numbers

We've looked at several factors that will help you determine the size of your wedding guest list. But the next question is how will you decide who to invite? This was one of the most contentious discussions for my husband and I when we were putting together our wedding guest list.

Did my husband invite that university friend of his that he hadn't seen in years and hadn't maintained a relationship with? Did I invite the friend from my early childhood that was no longer a big part of my life? Did either set of parents invite their million family friends and business contacts?

So many difficult questions! Thankfully you can learn from our mistakes by considering the following 'filtering' criteria to help you decide who to invite to your wedding:

  1. Even split of guests for the bride and groom. We had roughly 50 people each that we could invite - and that included the people that our parents could invite.
  2. Automatically exclude anyone that the bride and/or groom hasn't contacted in a certain period of time. For example, we used 1 year as the cut-off. We agreed not to invite anyone that we hadn't contacted for a year and that removed a surprisingly large number of people.
  3. Let the wedding venue dictate the number of guests. We decided on a wedding reception venue that had a maximum capacity of 100 guests (and a minimum booking size of 80 guests). So that gave us a hard limit to stick to.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how many people you should invite to your wedding. We hope that we've provided some food for thought that will help you determine who to invite. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Bridal Blue specialises in designing and handcrafting custom-made bridal and wedding headpieces, crowns and tiaras featuring pearls and crystals from Swarovski for brides, bridesmaids, and flower girls. See Bridal Blue's ever growing wedding tips and bridal inspiration blog for more great wedding ideas.

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1 Response


March 17, 2017

Love this! Reall helpful. Thanks x

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