Figuring out the answer to the question “how many people should I invite to my wedding” can be tricky, and sometimes it is one of the most challenging parts of planning a wedding. Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the number of people you should invite to your wedding.
How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding?
If you’re going for an intimate wedding, then 20 to 50 people is a good number to work with for most people. However, if you want a big wedding, you can invite as many as 150 people.
You need not feel constrained to the above numbers because no two weddings are the same. The guest list size depends on your budget, your family and friends circle, the wedding venue, and how big or small you want your wedding to be. It comes down to your imagination and preference.
Once you have determined your wedding vibe, sit down with your partner and decide on the budget. On average, a wedding budget in the U.S. costs around $300 per head. Once you have a budget, you can curate a list of essential people to invite to your wedding. These include your parents and maybe your grandparents, aunts, uncles, closest cousins, best friends, etc.
Remember, not every family member and acquaintance has to be at your wedding. Focus on the people with whom you have a close relationship. Otherwise, you might end up with a huge guest list which can cause budget issues and unnecessary stress. Some questions to ask when curating a wedding list include:
When last did I speak to this person?
Will I be sad if I don’t invite this person to my wedding?
Did they invite me to their recent wedding?
Highest Number of Guests
Lowest Number of Guests
Farm or Country
There are various vibes to choose from for your wedding, and the wedding theme may affect your guest count. If you’re unsure which type of wedding you have or are still on the fence, check out the detailed breakdown below.
1. Rustic Wedding
Rustic weddings are inspired by country living and allude to the gratifying nature of the outdoors. Generally, these types of weddings work best in vineyards, barns, sheds, and under trees or marquees. This wedding style is often realized with accents like unarranged floral or bouquets, metals, and timber.
Rustic weddings usually incorporate a dinner reception which might be held in the same location or property as the ceremony. The size of the bridal party depends on the couple’s preference. In fact, some couples might even opt not to have a bridal party altogether.
These weddings are perfect for couples who want a relaxed, laid-back, quiet mood for their big day. Also, it doesn’t require many formalities making it less stressful than classic weddings.
2. Bohemian Romance Wedding
The bohemian wedding theme is for couples who want a laid-back celebration but don’t want to forego elegance. It is usually manifested through the style choices of the bridal party, venue, location, decorations, and the whole style of the wedding ceremony.
Bohemian weddings often exhibit an aspect of nature. If held indoors, the nature aspect can be realized using floral and greenery decorations. Also, these weddings perfectly blend with the beach surrounding the venue.
3. Beach Wedding
A beach wedding is another excellent choice for couples who want a relaxed and intimate celebration. Beach weddings usually incorporate a celebration at the beach followed by a reception in a nearby venue.
Regarding attire, guests are encouraged to dress casually. The bridal party members might rock sandals or even show up without shoes. Beach weddings may have a big or small bridal party with just a few close friends and family attending the wedding. Most importantly, it comes down to the couple’s preference and what they envision for their big day.
4. Vintage Wedding
Vintage weddings are another popular wedding style, and for a good reason. As the name suggests, they are reminiscent of bygone eras such as the ‘20s, ‘40s, and even the famous Victorian era. This wedding style manifests through bridal party makeup, attire, hair, decorations, floral choices, and venue styling. Many vintage weddings might not include sit-down dinners, but they rarely miss cocktails—which were trendy in the ‘20s.
Other ways to intensify a vintage wedding vibe include choosing a vintage wedding venue, cars, photo booths, jazz music, and venue style. Unlike a traditional wedding, a vintage wedding does not have many formalities. Regardless, it’s your big day, so don’t be afraid to customize this wedding style to match what you envision.
5. Industrial Wedding
These weddings include industrial aesthetics, mainly around the venue and how it is styled and decorated. This wedding vibe usually incorporates raw textures like exposed bricks, old timber, and polished concrete.
An industrial wedding can have cocktails or sit-down dinners depending on the couple’s preference and the selected venue. It can also have formalities, except there is no traditional wedding setting.
6. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Wedding
This might be an excellent wedding theme if you’re a great DIYer. In DIY weddings, the couple usually makes most of the decorations by hand. Some couples will even go a step further and handcraft the party favors, styling elements, wedding dresses, and bouquets and do their own makeup.
The dress code for a DIY wedding is usually smart but casual, and the couple can choose to have many or few bridal party members. The wedding celebration might be followed by a cocktail or a sit-down dinner, depending on the couple’s preference. DIY weddings are perfect for creative couples looking to reduce their wedding budget.
7. Farm or Country Wedding
Weddings on a farm or in the countryside are usually styled to resemble the surrounding. The decorations of this wedding theme usually blend well with those of a rustic wedding. The only difference between the two wedding styles is that a country wedding has to be held in the countryside or on a farm, whereas a rustic wedding can be carried out anywhere.
The bridal party might use tractors for transportation and boots as footwear.
8. Luxurious Wedding
Think of luxurious weddings as traditional ones, except they are extravagantly decorated. These lavish weddings involve official attire and are held at a reception venue or church. Generally, they have all the formalities you would expect from a traditional wedding.
Luxurious weddings involve more sparkle and often incorporate metallic colors, including silver, gold, rose gold, and copper. Generally, the wedding dress is designer-made and embellished with laces. The bridal party is also well-styled to match what the bride and groom wear.
9. Outdoor or Garden Wedding
Outdoor or garden weddings are often laid back and relaxed. Depending on the couple’s preference, the dress code might be traditional or smart-casual. Some couples might extend the celebration by incorporating outdoor games and food trucks. Others might opt for an indoor reception to complete formalities and enjoy a sit-down dinner.
10. Elegant Wedding
An elegant wedding is similar to a traditional one but has a modern twist. Elegant weddings include modern and trendy design choices such as styling, invitations, flowers, and decorations. Like a conventional wedding, an elegant wedding involves some formalities, including the bridal party, speeches, sit-down dinners, and trendy cars for transportation.
The venue options for elegant weddings are quite diverse. Couples might choose wineries, industrial venues, or even traditional wedding venues.
11. Romantic Vineyard Wedding
Think of a romantic vineyard wedding as a celebration of the breathtaking natural surroundings. While the actual wedding might take place indoors or outdoors, the styling elements and the general aesthetics usually resemble the surrounding landscape. These wedding styles typically blend well with rustic elements.
Local produce, food, and wine are staples in romantic vineyard weddings. Therefore, a sit-down dinner is always present. The couples might decide whether they want formalities or not. However, core players of the bridal party must be present.
What Is the Average Number of Guests for a Wedding?
On average, the number of guests at a wedding tends to range between 130 and 150. For smaller weddings, the average is around 50, and for larger weddings, this number can exceed 150 guests. In recent years, we have seen wedding guest lists shrink, with 2020 and 2021 recording the least number of guests due to COVID-19 restrictions.
What Percentage of Wedding Guests Actually Attend?
Generally, around 80 percent of the guests will show up to the wedding. If it’s a destination wedding and the guests have to travel across different cities, states, or countries, this figure can come down to 70 percent. However, it’s best to prepare for a 100 percent turnout, just in case. Guest turnout is certainly an important factor when pondering “how many people should I invite to my wedding?”, so if you know you’ll want a minimum, then it may be a good idea to invite a bit more.
How Many Wedding Invites Should My Parents Get?
Traditionally, parents should invite 2/3 of the wedding guests. For example, if your target guest count is 100, one set of parents can invite 33 guests and the other 33 guests, and you can have the remaining spots. However, traditions are changing, and couples are now taking more control over who comes to their wedding.
You can take another route if you’re uncomfortable with the above approach. For instance, you can consider the following:
Sit down with your partner and decide how many people you want to invite to your wedding. This number varies from one wedding to the other, depending on the budget, the venue capacity, and whether the couple wants a big or small intimate wedding. Once you have a specific guest number in mind, list all the people you want to invite to the wedding, subtract that number from your target guest number, and let your parents have the leftovers.
Just remember to split the leftover spots between both sets of parents equally. This method might sound extreme and harsh, but it is fair considering that it’s your wedding, you’re paying, and you have the final say.
What if Parents Decide to Pay or Not to Pay for the Extra Spots?
The above scenario is perfect, especially if you are managing the budget. If one set of parents decides that they want to go over the allotted spots and are willing to pay for the extra slots, then you can consider it like a gift. However, you might still want to know who they invite to your wedding.
While some couples might not care about who their parents are inviting to their wedding, some are uncomfortable with seeing new faces and having awkward first-time conversations at their wedding. If you don’t want strangers at your wedding, you can humbly ask the parents who they are inviting and allow them to proceed only if you’re comfortable.
There is also a second scenario where a particular set of parents want to invite more than the allotted spots and are unwilling to pay for those extra heads. In this case, it’s best to sit down with them and respectfully remind them that you’re on a budget and you cannot exceed the slots you have assigned them.
Do I Have to Invite Kids to My Wedding?
The short answer is no. You don’t have to invite kids to your wedding. However, there are various considerations to consider to ensure you make the right choice.
Choosing whether to have or not to have kids at your wedding is a very personal decision. Family and friends often have different opinions about the topic. This is when you must remind yourself that it’s your wedding.
Your wedding budget is an essential consideration. Having kids at your wedding will increase your guest count and, consequently, the wedding cost. There are three options when deciding to have kids at your wedding: having children, not having children, or having specific guests bring their children to your wedding.
Having Kids At Your Wedding
Allowing kids at your wedding has a bright side because it is guest friendly. For instance, your guests don’t have to worry about leaving their children with a babysitter, especially if yours is a destination wedding.
Unfortunately, kids are very unpredictable. If a kid throwing a tantrum or storming the dance floor at the wrong time will upset you, it’s best to exclude them from the celebration. Generally, if you have kids at your wedding, you need to forego the need to control everything they are going to do. After all, kids are just kids.
Another caveat of having children at your wedding is a drastic increase in the budget. You must assign them a playroom, dessert, food, blankets, and possibly babysitters if they are very young. Kids also have bedtimes, and those little ones might miss dinner if your wedding is late into the evening. Consequently, guests with children might leave the ceremony earlier than the rest.
Having kids is best for couples who have many nephews and nieces or already have children.
Not Having Kids at Your Wedding
If the caveats of having children at your wedding give you chills, you can exclude them from the celebration altogether. An adult-only reception is entirely acceptable. However, you’re likely to get a lot of pushback from family and friends with children.
Remember to advocate for yourself and explain that it is a budget or space concern. Or, frankly, it’s an adults-only reception.
You can always compromise on the children’s attendance issue. For example, you can set up a separate room for them with babysitters and everything else they need. That way, guests don’t feel like they can’t come to the wedding because of their kids, but the actual celebration is still adult-only.
Hand Selecting Guests That Are Allowed to Bring Their Children
The third option is the trickiest of the three. You need to set up fair rules determining which guests bring their children and which do not. That way, explaining to other guests why their children were not invited becomes easier.
For instance, you could invite only kids above a certain age. Or only include young bridal party members like ring bearers and flower girls to attend. Again, it’s your wedding, and it depends on your personal preference.
Just note that whatever your choice, you’ll probably face backlash from your guests. So do what feels right for you and let the rest fall by the wayside.
What If I Want to Invite More People Than My Budget Allows?
Unfortunately, you can’t exceed your budget when inviting people to your wedding. However, if you’re working on a tight budget and want to invite more people to your wedding, then your best choice is to compromise on some wedding expenses. Here are some creative ways to lower costs to expand a guest list:
Flowers make weddings beautiful, but if you’re on a budget, you can reduce them or choose less costly varieties to save a few bucks. However, without flowers, the tables might feel a bit empty. At the very least, ensure you have some flower centerpieces to give the space some life.
Wedding photography is invaluable, and many couples find it hard to forego it. It is a special day, and most of us want well-documented photos for this particular day. The best way to save on wedding photography is to hire a professional for a few hours. Go for the package with the least amount of hours.
Alternatively, you can rent a quality camera and have a family member with some editing skills take wedding pictures for you.
3. Wedding Venue
If you’re on a tight budget and want to save money, you can get some extra bucks by finding a more affordable venue. For instance, you can hire a decor specialist to turn your backyard into a wedding venue. The money saved can go toward adding slots to the guest list.
4. Food and Drinks
Food and drinks are essential to a wedding reception. However, if you’re on a strict budget, you have to be careful about the kind of foods that you’re serving. For instance, avoiding meat-based foods such as chicken and beef is best. Instead, serve your guests plant-based foods such as vegetables, pasta, and legumes.
You can also avoid offering alcohol if you’re on a budget. If you must have alcohol, it’s best to stick to wine and beer instead of serving different variations of expensive alcohol.
5. Avoid the Saturday Wedding
Due to high demand, wedding venues are usually pricier on Saturdays than on any other day of the week. You can save big if you choose to have your wedding on a Sunday or a weekday. Also, there are months when venues are more expensive due to increased demand, like the month of September.
Although the bridal season can vary each year, generally, the most popular time to get married is in the summer and fall. If you’re trying to save money, consider planning your wedding outside these popular seasons.
The pandemic has created innovative ways of staying connected with our friends, and virtual weddings have quickly become a thing. So, you can ask the people you have not invited to follow the wedding online.
If the above solutions don’t sit right with you, then your best choice is to strictly invite people closest to you and leave the rest out. You may feel bad for leaving someone out, but reach out to them and explain that you are working under a stringent budget and have them in your thoughts. This last solution is better than having a wedding that doesn’t match your imagination and expectations.