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June 24, 2021

Guest List Tips

Unless you’re having a party for one, your event is obviously going to have guests. It can be tricky where to draw the line though.  Venue size, budget, even relationships can be tested and pushed to the max and overwhelm. Worry not! Follow the tips below to create your ideal guest list for your big day or other special event. 

Venue & Wedding Size

When finding your venue, keep in mind how big of a wedding you’d like. All venues, including those outside, have capacity limits they’re required to follow by law. More people means a bigger venue with a bigger budget. If you already have a venue booked, or are in the process of looking, ask about capacity limits. Figure out how well those numbers match with your budget and expectations. This can help you not only select a venue, but also finalize your guest list.

Based on The Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study, the average guest list for US 2017 was around 136 people. The same study estimated the average national wedding cost to be $33,391. While that depends on factors like venue, transportation, clothing, and food, it can give you a bit of an idea on how many to plan for.  Check out our free Budget Planner to help you plan for all of your costs and stay within your desired budget. 


Families come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on how large your family is and the, politics, this can be the most difficult place to draw the line. Don’t feel pressured to invite certain people just because they share your blood, or another relative wants them to come.  The, “I’m not coming if they’re coming” or vice versa is ridiculous. While completely up to you, we recommend passing this negativity completely. 

Think about who you’re close with. If you haven’t spoken to your cousins since the last family reunion, we don’t recommend inviting them. The same goes for other members.

Friends and Co-workers

Keep in mind the venue size and the fact that with weddings, both sides have guests.  We recommend counting family members and your bridal party first. Deduct that count from your ideal range.  This leaves you with a rough estimate on how many others to invite. Be selective if you need to. Only invite your favorite coworkers and friends you see more than twice a year. 

Now here’s the tricky part: If they invited you to their wedding/special event, must you invite them to yours? The harsher and simpler answer is no.  However, think about the other activities you have done together and how big a role this person plays in your life. How long ago was the event and has the relationship faded or changed over time? Does your significant other get along with this person? These can help you decide for sure whether they’re a yay or nay. 

Plus Ones

Plus Ones can literally double the size of your expected guests. That means double the bodies, double the food, and double the expense. Hold strong to the rule about only allowing in people who RSVP-guests and their companions alike.  We’ve seen numerous people decide to bring dates or certain invites who, “forgot to mail it in”. It equals out to be added stress you do not need. Not to mention, it’s extremely rude on your guest’s part. 

In terms of who gets a Plus One and who rides solo, think about future wedding pictures. As the photographer captures your special day, you probably don’t want a bunch of random characters appearing.  Limit plus ones to people you know have been in a serious relationship for awhile. Get around the “they’ll be bored and lonely” by placing friends with common interests together at a table. These people are here to celebrate the occasion, not free food and booze.  Still a bit hesitant about where to draw the line? Keep a few extra seats open. As the time gets closer and RSVPs start coming in, you can slightly adjust the count and fill in requests if asked. 


Planning to party hard? Leave the kids at home. Inviting kids just to the ceremony and not to the reception is more kid friendly but involves parents leaving or setting up caretakers near by. Our recommendation? Focus on your guest list and the mood you want to set for your big day. By no means is inviting children a bad thing, but plan ahead. If children are welcome throughout the event, plan for kid friendly foods and games to keep them entertained.

Daunting though the task is, once it’s done, you’ll feel a weight come off your shoulders.  Remember, as soon as the boring paperwork is done you can focus on the fun things: wedding colors, decorations, dresses, and more!  Tell us what you think of these guest list tips, or send us your own to or through our Facebook page.

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