Tips and Tricks for Finding the Perfect Number of Guests


One of the most important decisions you’ll make while planning your wedding? Deciding how many people to invite! 

Finding a way to include everyone who matters while also keeping your day intimate (and within budget) can be a difficult balancing act. 

If you’re struggling to figure out the perfect number, read on as we share some of the most important factors to consider when creating your guest list – along with some tips and tricks to make the process a little easier!

Photo via Nastia Vesna

What’s the Average Wedding Size?

Weddings come in all shapes and sizes – whether you’re picturing something small and intimate, or lavish and grand. Currently, the “average” wedding guest list hovers anywhere from 50 – 150 people, but this will be hugely dependent on your finances and priorities for the day.

There are a few guidelines you can use to help determine your guest numbers based on the style of wedding you’re hosting. For example:

  • An elopement: Between 5 – 10 guests.
  • A micro-wedding: Between 10 – 50 guests.
  • An average wedding: Between 50 – 150 guests.
  • A big wedding: Over 150 guests.
Photo via Thomas Audiffren

Factors to Consider When Creating Your Guest List

Your wedding guest list should be influenced by a few key things. Sometimes, your “ideal” wedding guest list may not align with these external factors, so you may need to find a happy compromise.

Here are some of the most important elements you’ll need to consider when deciding how many guests to invite to your wedding:

Your Wedding Budget

Your budget will probably play the biggest role when determining the number of guests you can realistically invite. Remember, each guest can cost upwards of $250+ when it comes to providing food and drinks for the day. Even the tiny details like napkins and cutlery are all dependent on your guest numbers! A smaller budget may limit the size of your guest list, while a larger budget can accommodate a more extensive guest count. 

Start by figuring out how much you are comfortable spending on your celebration, then break this down into categories such as venue, catering, entertainment, and more. This will help you gauge how much you can allocate to each guest without straining your finances. 

Your Wedding Vision

When creating your wedding guest list, it’s important to consider the atmosphere you want to create on the day. If you’re dreaming of a small, intimate affair, you won’t be able to achieve this with a guest list of 300 people! Keep in mind that the more guests you invite, the less intimate your wedding will feel. 

Alternatively, if you’re envisioning a big party with a buzzing dance floor, you may find it hard to bring this to life with a smaller guest list. Think about the kind of celebration you want, and let that vision guide your final numbers.

Photo via Bottega 53 Studio

Your Wedding Venue

The size and capacity of your wedding venue will also play a crucial role in determining your guest count. For example: an intimate, cozy restaurant is unlikely to accommodate a large number of guests, while a spacious warehouse may not be the best choice for a small micro-wedding! 

Be sure to check with your venue coordinator to understand their capacity limits before sending out those invitations.

The Percentage Of Guests Who Will Attend

Many couples make the mistake of inviting a larger number of guests, with the expectation that not everyone will be able to attend. However, we’d advise against this! 

While it’s likely that some guests will have to decline your invitation (particularly if you’re hosting a destination wedding), you should always plan for 100% attendance. Never invite more people than you can fit within your budget and venue, or you might find yourself in a stressful situation closer to the day.

Parental Contributions

If your parents are contributing financially to the wedding, it’s considered correct etiquette to allow them some space on your guest list. Make sure you have an upfront discussion about how many people each set of parents is allowed to invite, so you can factor this into your final numbers. 

Photo via Brett Hickman

The Pros and Cons of Big Weddings Vs Small Weddings

Still undecided? Here are some of the pros and cons of hosting a bigger wedding vs a smaller celebration:

  • Small wedding pros: A small wedding will undoubtedly feel more intimate, allowing you to celebrate with just a handful of your closest loved ones. It will also be more affordable, allowing you to invest more money into the finer details (or to splurge on your honeymoon!)
  • Small wedding cons: Restricting your guest list can be difficult, and may even lead to some awkwardness or tension between your loved ones. Most wedding venues cater to a larger guest list, so you may also find it difficult to find a space that isn’t too big for your needs.
  • Big wedding pros: With a big wedding, there’s no need to restrict your guest list! You can invite all of your extended friends and family – and with more people on the dance floor, you can create a fun, buzzing atmosphere.
  • Big wedding cons: A bigger wedding comes hand in hand with bigger costs. You may also find the wedding planning process more stressful, particularly when it comes to creating your seating chart and managing RSVPs. 
Photo via Alban Pichon

Stick to Your Decision

Our final tip? Once you’ve finalized your guest list, it’s important to stand by your decision. It’s easy to second-guess yourself, especially when you feel pressure from family or friends. Remember that this day is about you and your partner, and your guest list should reflect your shared values and priorities.

Need some help keeping track of your guest list? Check out our digital guest list manager and online RSVPs here at WedSites for seamless guest list management.