If you’re engaged, then you’re probably in the process of planning your wedding. One big issue is figuring out your guest list. It’s challenging because there are many factors to consider.
But don’t worry. I’m here to help! Keep reading for advice on choosing the perfect number of guests for your big day.
What is the average number of people invited to a wedding?
The average number of guests at a wedding in 2021 was 105 people. However, keep in mind that wedding guest lists that year were somewhat impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s likely we’ll see higher numbers in the future such as 2019’s average guest count of 131 people.
The final guest count for most weddings is based on the number of friends and family members the bride and groom want in attendance. Equally as important when calculating how many guests to invite is the size of the couple’s budget.
Your final wedding guest list will reflect your unique situation.
Who are you supposed to invite to your wedding?
When it comes to your personal guest list there are no actual rules! Everyone’s situation is different and exceptions will change how your list will look. It is your special day and you should feel comfortable with the people you invite.
Here are some examples of people you may want to invite to your wedding.
Traditional wedding guests
- Your parents
- Your children
- Your siblings
- Close friends
Other guests often invited
- Aunts and uncles
- Nieces and nephews
- Other personal and family friends
- Spiritual leaders
Should kids be invited to a wedding?
Many people question whether to invite youngsters when putting together their guest lists. It’s not unusual to have young children at a wedding. But once they get tired they can cut partying short for their parents.
You can invite them to the ceremony or politely tell everyone that your event is for adults only. But be aware that some guests will decline your invitation if they can’t find a sitter.
Another option is to hire an on-site wedding babysitter. This person can supervise the children in a separate room and occupy them with activities during the celebration.
A babysitting service will add to your expenses but may allow more parents to attend. See if there are any reliable services in your area and check out the prices. Do this as early as possible to confirm a date.
Make lists of potential guests
Start by writing the names of everyone you want to invite on two lists.
Your first list should include the people you feel must attend your wedding. The second list should contain names of others you could potentially invite.
Factor in how well you know each person on both lists and where you put them on your hierarchy. Do you want coworkers, acquaintances or relatives you don’t often speak with to attend?
Be sure you discuss the list with your spouse-to-be to make sure you both agree on which guests to invite. I suggest not sharing your list with anyone else to avoid potential issues or hurt feelings.
Consider wedding costs per guest
The average cost of a wedding in 2021 was $34,000. The average venue cost with catering and bar service was $15,800. Keep in mind it’s also a good idea to have 5 to 15 percent of your budget reserved for unexpected costs. As you can see, a wedding is a big investment!
Start by calculating how much you can afford to spend on food and beverages per guest. Many catering companies charge per dinner plate. Will you pay for all the beverages or have a cash bar? Your answers will help you narrow down that second guest list.
These expenses don’t include the many other costs you’ll face such as flowers, photography, entertainment and guest favors.
Small vs. large weddings
Small and large weddings have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some aspects of each to help you choose the size of your nuptials.
- Easier to plan
- More time to spend with guests
- Guest favors and gifts can be more extravagant
- Guests left off the list may be offended
- May seem less traditional
- Less space in smaller venues for activities
- May not meet minimum guest requirements for venues or caterers
- Has a more traditional feel
- You get to invite everyone you want
- Extra space for dancing, photo booths or other special experiences
- Bigger celebration atmosphere
- Finding a large venue can be challenging
- Your guest count may exceed the venue’s maximum capacity
- Less time spent with guests
- Planning is more complicated
The importance of RSVP replies
You may think you have everything in order after sending out the invitations. But your work isn’t done until you get those valuable RSVPs.
Experts suggest you request guest RSVPs a month before your big day. This means you should place invites in the mail six to eight weeks before your wedding. Send out-of-town guests their invitations even earlier, if possible, so they can make necessary arrangements for lodging if needed.
Venues and caterers may have minimum guest requirements in your contract. On average, 15 percent of invites sent out for a wedding are declined. If your final guest list is too low, you will need to send more invitations or risk paying extra.
You may be tempted to send out more extra invitations if you’re expecting a certain percentage to decline. However, be prepared if 100 percent of your invited guests decide to attend. Always ensure you can afford or accommodate all of the invitations you send!
I recommend waiting for RSVPs from your first list before deciding whether to invite guests from your second list. You’ll have a better idea where you stand on space and expenses at that time.
3 tips for reducing the cost of your wedding reception
It’s wonderful to see all your relatives and friends supporting you at your wedding. To keep a large guest list intact, you may have to make a few adjustments.
Here are a few ideas for staying on budget:
1. Cut back on the bar
An open bar and an extensive guest list can put a big dent in your budget. Offer a limited drink selection at the bar or provide only a few types of drinks on a wedding cart.
These options give you more control over the amount of money you spend on alcohol.
2. Be choosy with the plus-ones
Engaged guests and people in long-term relationships should be sent invitations with plus-ones. Extend it to other friends and relatives only if you can financially accommodate the extra people.
3. Choose a low-cost wedding dinner alternative
Instead of having a formal meal, consider planning a more relaxed and cheaper dinner option to stay on budget. Here are a few examples:
A popular trend today is to hire a food truck or multiple ones! One food truck can typically feed approximately 100 to 150 people. You may also need a separate one for drinks.
Set out a few simple snacks and water bottles to help curb appetites before the food truck(s) begins serving. Snacks also help hold guests over while waiting for their main meal.
A food truck experience can be a memorable part of your wedding that guests won’t soon forget. It also can cost less than traditional catering.
However, food truck receptions are not for everyone! They can require more work since you may be responsible for furnishing items such as dinnerware and napkins. Additionally, your venue may not allow food trucks on site.
A restaurant reservation
Consider reserving a private room at a local restaurant if your guest list is small. It may be cheaper than catering and everything will be taken care of for you. Don’t forget to tip!
A backyard BBQ
Host a BBQ at your own home or another site if you want a laid-back wedding! You’ll bypass the cost of a venue, which can greatly boost your wedding budget.
Ask for volunteers to cook and serve while you mingle with guests. Make DIY wedding favors to add flair to your low-key reception!
Unique custom products for your reception
After your invites are addressed and sent, the next hurdle is finding wedding guest favors and unique party supplies. Look no further than Totally Wedding Koozies for personalized wedding products! Don’t forget to browse our promos and offers before you check out.
Take a look at some of our best-selling wedding favors and party supplies:
- Free delivery
- Second-side imprint is free
- Dozens of product colors
- Different styles for a variety of drink types
- Wedding Premium Foam Can Cooler
- Wedding Neoprene Can Cooler
- Wedding Collapsible Foam 12 oz. Slim Can Cooler
- Wedding Plastic Cup Cooler
- Over 400 designs
- Frosted and colored options
- Low prices
- Foil-stamp options
- Free delivery
- Over 35 colors
- Four different styles
- Diagonal Foil-Stamped Cocktail Wedding Napkins
- Diagonal Foil-Stamped Lunch Wedding Napkins
- Diagonal Foil-Stamped Dinner Wedding Napkins
- Foil-Stamped Guest Towels
Use our napkin calculator to get the right amount for your celebration!
- Glass and acrylic material options
- Many different styles and colors
- Affordable prices
- Low minimums
- 1.75 oz. Wedding Shot Glass
- 1.75 oz. Frosted Wedding Shot Glass
- 1.75 oz. Wedding Colored Shot Glass
- 1.5 oz. Classic Acrylic Wedding Shot Glass
Get those wedding plans going!
Once you have that final guest list, a lot of other tasks will fall in place.
The experts at Totally Wedding Koozies are standing by to help you with all your needs. Your personal account representative will be happy to give you advice, help you with your artwork and answer any questions you may have.
It’s never too early to get started!