• 04/14/2023

How Many People Should I Invite To My Wedding?


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Your wedding is one of the biggest days of your life. It makes sense that you would want everyone you love in attendance. However, as you’re excitedly figuring out all the other details, one question might poke at your brain: “How many people should I invite to my wedding?”

You can have a cozy, intimate wedding with only a few people, or you might want to go all out and throw a massive party. Whatever vibe is more your speed, you’ll have to eventually cut down on the list of people you want to invite to your wedding. This quick guide will help you determine just who to invite, who to leave off the list and who you should consider as part of your B-List.

How Many People Are Invited to the Average Wedding?

The number of people you should invite to your wedding is what you feel is right. You shouldn’t base how many people to have at your wedding on what other people do. The right amount of people for your wedding will be a combination of all the people you love and what your budget can afford.

Typically, a guest list could be the maximum of what some couples may want to spend. As the RSVPs roll in, they will start to see their confirmed number of guests drop. Many couples are fine with that, as it means spending less money. Remember, the average wedding costs around $30,000 in 2023. If you want to stay as far from that number as possible, you might be fine with some guests RSVPing that they can’t make it.

Other people will want to tap into their B-List for more guests. If you want to have the maximum number of guests you can get into your venue, having a B-List is a great way to ensure that you’ve got the right amount of people you love attending your wedding.

A bride and groom exit a church as guests throw rice.

What Is A B-List?

A B-List is a list of everyone that didn’t make it onto your A-List. Your A-List should be comprised of all the people you plan to invite and would really want at your wedding. Your B-List should be full of people you also love and would love to have at your wedding, but you hesitate to send an invitation for some reason — whether it’s a dispute with a person on the A-List, a travel distance or something entirely different.

The difficulty here is that some people on your B-List may think they’re considered an afterthought. You must navigate their feelings carefully, so don’t plan to send an invitation so late that it makes it look like they were a second choice. Ideally, you would have been able to have all these people on the A-List and wouldn’t have to have a B-List! 

People you work with or just reconnected with would be great B-List candidates. If enough people from your A-List can’t attend your wedding, you may consider inviting all your coworkers, if you didn’t plan on asking any already. That way, you can still have people you love at your wedding without having anyone feel left out. The earlier you make decisions and send invitations to people on your B-List, the better.

An overhead picture of a wedding reception in a courtyard.

What Percentage of Wedding Guests Actually Attend?

Realistically, only about 70-80% of the people you invite will make it to your wedding. You can perhaps estimate about 85% of people coming if your wedding is local and doesn’t require much travel. Those who don’t attend might tell you on the RSVP card, or they may be no-shows on the day of without warning. 

If you invite around 100 people to your wedding and don’t have a B-List, you can expect about 70 to 80 people to show up. You may only need a final guest count around a month before your wedding, but you should still send your invitations out early. The earlier you know how much you’ll spend on your wedding, the better you can prepare for it.

If you still wonder, “How many people should I invite to my wedding?” among several of the other wedding questions flying through your brain, work backward. Get a quote from the caterer first. Find out how many people your venue can support. Look at who you’d be comfortable inviting based on the vibe you want your special day to have. Then, you can start building your list — and potentially start narrowing it down.

A father walks a bride down the aisle at an outdoor wedding ceremony.

How to Whittle Down Your Guest List

One built-in way to narrow your guest list is to hold your wedding on a weekday, which might be a cheaper option for your venue. Still, not everyone wants to have their wedding in the middle of the week. These are a few questions you should ask yourself when determining how many people you should invite to your wedding.

1. What’s Your Budget?

Before you set anything else — before the flowers, before the menu — you have to have a budget. By the time you’re picking your guest list, you should have an idea of what your budget is. Certain expenses, like food, will influence how much you spend on your wedding. For example, doing a full-spread buffet will cost more than something like a dessert bar or brunch reception. Keep in mind the cost of each plate when determining how many people you should invite to your wedding.

2. How Do You Know the Person?

You might be given a list of names you’ve never heard of. If your parents are footing the bill for most or all of your wedding, you should probably give in and let them invite a few of their friends to the wedding. Otherwise, remember that you and your partner get the final say in who comes to your wedding. You aren’t obligated to invite any of your parents’ friends or other people you don’t really know.

3. Have You Considered a Kids-Free Wedding?

If you don’t have kids, one of the most tempting ideas might be to invite only adults to your wedding. Child-free weddings are fine, but you should phrase your invitations carefully so people understand and won’t get upset. Unfortunately, some people may not be able to make it because of their kids, but other parents will be happy to find a babysitter to be there to celebrate your big day. Not including kids could also cut down your guest list.

4. Do They Need a Plus-One?

Contrary to what you might think, not every wedding guest needs to have a plus-one. You might extend an invitation to a plus-one of someone in your wedding party, as that person may mean a lot to the person who means a lot to you. However, it’s perfectly understandable if you don’t want to allow a plus-one to a cousin’s significant other they’ve only been with for a few weeks if you don’t have the space. Narrowing down how many people need plus-ones can help you reduce your guest list.

5. Would the Day Feel Incomplete Without Them?

Ultimately, the people you invite to your wedding should be people you can’t picture the day without. After all, you’re tying the knot with the person you love most in the world. Close your eyes and picture the guests in attendance. You’ll likely notice there are some people who simply must be at your big day, while others don’t quite feel necessary to the experience.

A bride and groom exit a church as guests hold up sparklers.

How Many People Should I Invite to My Wedding? Those You Love and Can Afford

As special as it is, your wedding is just a day. Don’t go bankrupt trying to ensure that everyone in your life has a seat at your table on your big day. You should be celebrating with the people you love and who love you, which can get tricky when you have a support system on both your and your partner’s sides. So, the answer to the age-old question, “How many people should I invite to my wedding?” You should invite the people you love and can afford to your wedding. After all, it’s your day — so you should get to choose how many people will be in attendance.

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