How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding?

Checking and re-checking a wedding guest list is up there in the list of tasks that most couples least like to do. Make the job easier and less painful for yourselves with our expert advice. 

There’s an app for everything these days. Solutions are everywhere in our modern lives, with so many companies only too happy to take the hard choices away from us. 

Do you want to order takeout? Here are some dishes we know you’ll love, from a restaurant only 15 minutes away. Perfect! 

Do you need some new pants? No problem, your favorite fashion brand already knows your perfect fit and style. Easy! 

And even when it comes to planning your wedding day, there are tons of useful apps out there. From table planners and organizers to wedding websites and social media image gatherers. But there is one solution that no one has created yet, and it’s for a problem that only you can solve. The wedding guest list and the quandary of how many people you should invite to your wedding. 

Some apps can track RSVPs and arrange where they’ll be seated on the big day. But only a human, and only you, can decide who exactly will be sitting in those chairs. And for most couples, this is one of the most complex parts of the wedding planning process. 

For starters, there are two of you, so that’s two very personal opinions about each other’s friends and family that have to be balanced out. You can’t just let your partner invite everyone they’ve ever known, and you just bring along your Mom and Dad. There needs to be some give and take from the both of you.

Then you have to deal with family requests, like those frantic early morning calls from Mom asking if you’ve invited your great aunt Maud to the ceremony and reception, even though you’ve never even heard of the woman! How do you deal with that?! 

How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding

How Many People Should You Invite to Your Wedding?

Today we will explore some tough questions and share our advice on how you can navigate the wedding guest list in the hope that you walk away knowing how many people you should invite to your wedding. 

What is the Average Number of People Invited to a Wedding?

When deciding on your wedding guest list, it’s not unusual to wonder just how many people other couples invite to their big day. After all, you may find it a helpful barometer. But we would say that it’s important to remember that you are unique, and no two weddings are the same. So, if your wedding guest list is much more, or much less than the figures below, that’s ok! As long as you’re happy and can afford to invite 500+ people, don’t feel as though you’re doing something wrong. 

For obvious reasons, the statistics below come from 2019, as the last two years were a little different from the norm, especially when it came to wedding guest list size. But it will be interesting to see whether the pandemic has changed people’s habits in this area and if group sizes will become smaller due to the rise in popularity of elopements and micro-weddings. According to The Knot, weddings were getting smaller anyway, pre-Covid-19. So maybe the pandemic will only accelerate this trend. 

The Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study showed that the average US wedding size is 131. And as we mentioned, this figure is smaller than in 2007, when the average guest count was 153. 

Condé Nast Brides, the arch-rival of The Knot, rarely agree on anything, but they did find similar figures when surveying couples in 2019. According to the Brides American Wedding Study, most weddings had less than 200 guests, with the average being around 160. 

These figures vary depending on where you are located, so you should remember that these are national averages and may not represent your local community. 

Who Are You Supposed to Invite to Your Wedding

Most couples really don’t enjoy splitting their friends and families into different groups of importance. We say ‘most‘ because there are some ruthless individuals out there who’ve been praying this day would come! And in fact, it may give some people the opportunity they need to let their partner know just how they feel about certain members of their friendship group. For better or for worse! 

The best way to find out who you should invite to your wedding is to break everyone up into an A, B, C, and D list. Sounds harsh, right? But nail this part, and the rest will slide into place. These lists are relatively straightforward, with the A-list containing the wedding party, i.e., your closest relatives, closest friends, and your children. The B-list should have extended family (grandparents, aunts/aunties/nephews/nieces) and those casual friends who aren’t quite top table, but they’re pretty darn close. Naturally, the lists decrease in ‘importance’ as you go down towards the D-list. 

For small weddings of, say, one hundred or fewer people, depending on your wedding reception budget and style of occasion, you might want to stop inviting people past the B-list because the A and B lists should include all the people you’re supposed to invite to your wedding. For an average size wedding of around 150, you should include everyone in the A to C lists. 

Your Parents Want to Invite People You’ve Never Heard of

Back to the old “great Aunt Maud conundrum.” Apparently, she’s lovely. Apparently, she wants to come. And apparently, she and your Mom are really close. But, you have never heard of great Aunt Maud and have never met her before. Should she be invited? Well, this is our take.

If you are a couple that has a sizeable budget and can add extra guests to your list without breaking out in a cold sweat, good. If you are a couple that wants a big wedding, with lots of people, good. And, if you’re both happy with some small talk on your big day with people you’ve never met before, good. Basically, if you can say yes to all of those statements, then let your parents invite whoever they choose. 

On the flip side, your hands could be tied if your parents are helping you out with the wedding budget, as you may feel the need to be respectful towards the bank of mom and dad. Our advice? Be as open and honest as possible with the parents and try to come to some kind of compromise. For instance, give your parents a quota of family members/friends they can invite along. That way, you’ll make them happy while minimizing the chance of you celebrating with a bunch of strangers! 

All Our Friends Want to Invite Their Kids

Kids are certainly a common issue and one that is entirely black and white for some people. On the whole, couples who don’t have kids are more likely to request that kids don’t come because they want to bring a relaxed, celebratory feel to their wedding, with guests free from worrying about their kids. 

But when many of these couples then have kids, they can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want their kids at a wedding! Every parent is different, and they need to be treated that way. If you put a blanket ban on all children, that may bruise some relationships with loved ones. 

The important thing is to decide early on and make it clear on your wedding invitations/website so that parents can take the appropriate action. If you’re making the wise decision only to invite the kids of A-list invitees, then that will ruffle a few feathers in the B/C/D lists. 

But remember, you really don’t have to explain yourself, as this is your day, and you’ll celebrate just how you like. But, say it nicely! Or, remind them that you have a wedding budget, and every head, however small, is another pile of cash spent. 

Should You Give Your Single Guests a Plus One?

In a perfect world, everyone would be invited to your dream wedding. But unfortunately, the dreaded budget always needs to be considered. And when it comes to plus-ones, you also need to think about your attitude towards people you may not know attending your big day. 

Guests who are married or in long-term relationships should get a plus one. But for singles, we’d say consider the individual, and the occasion, before adding a ‘+1’ to their name. At your wedding, will this single person be surrounded by loads of their best friends? Are some of these friends single? Yes to both? They don’t need a plus one. But if you’re inviting Tina from work, and she’s never met any of your friends or family, you should give her a plus one. 

Unless… Tina is super vivacious and will happily get along with all the other singletons. Then, that plus one is better used on someone else. Like, your old friend Devon, who now lives out of state and will need to stay the night in a hotel to attend your wedding. He should get a plus one because you’re expecting him to travel and have a hotel stay. Therefore, you should invest in him. 

Above all, you want your wedding guests to be happy. So if you can imagine that ‘single guest A’ will look pretty lonely when all the couples go off to dance, then, if you can afford it, give them a plus one. It’ll make their experience much more enjoyable and make you feel good.  

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