How to Choose the Size of Your Wedding Guest List

A wedding at a large church with some empty pews in the back.

The size of your wedding is a huge part of your day. The guest list may seem minor, but it impacts everything from budget and venue to even your future relationships with the people you do (and don’t) invite. Sitting down to concentrate on the wedding guest list can be a huge ball of stress in and of itself. What starts as friends and family suddenly starts snowballing into third cousins you last saw at a family reunion years ago and a list of your mother’s friends you’ve never even met. Here’s how to decide exactly what number you should stick to for your guest list.

150+ Guests: Large Wedding

An Indian couple getting married at their large wedding.

I was one of those brides who wanted the crazy big wedding. 300 guests just seemed perfect to me! A large wedding is for the bride who wants to include any and all people in both of your lives. From the computer technician at work and your fiance’s basketball partner at the gym to your your mom’s best friend’s son, the invite list can get crazy when you decide to have a big wedding.

Larger weddings usually need a lot more planning than those with small guest lists. One of the most important things to consider with a large wedding guest count is your budget. You will need to pay for each person at your wedding when it comes to food and drinks. Depending on what you serve, each head can mean high dollars when it comes to the menu bill.

You also must realize that with a large guest list, a large part of your night might be spent socializing, making sure each guest is thanked and happy. This may come at the cost of enjoying the time with your new spouse. Make sure you’re up to the task of playing host.

50 – 100 Guests: Medium Wedding

A medium-sized wedding ceremony set up under a tent with wood chairs and flower petals on the floor.

If you don’t want to host the party of the year, a medium-sized wedding might be perfect for you. Between 50 to 100 guests keeps the event big enough to really feel like a party, but scales back the stress. You get to celebrate with those you love best, without all the random people. Your work friends might get cut from the list, but your fiance’s brother’s new girlfriend makes the cut. With between 50-100 guests, you get to mix and mingle without standing in a line taking selfies all night.

The budget for a medium-sized wedding isn’t as crazy as a big wedding, but isn’t as tiny as for a small wedding, so you might need to scale back in some places. Focus on what you truly care about so you know were to direct your funds. If you really want the best music possible and don’t care as much about your menu, then spend more money on the DJ or band.

10 – 50 Guests: Small Wedding

A small wedding ceremony set up for 10-50 guests in a field surrounded by evergreen trees.

Make it an intimate, small event with 50 people or less. If you cringe at the thought of parading your life in front of hundreds of people or don’t want to think too much about a stressful table seating chart, a small wedding might be perfect for you.

A small guest list allows you to mingle with each person a little longer, letting you each enjoy the occasion without worry that you’re not giving other people enough attention. Instead of waiting in line for a quick hug and hello, chances are guests will be able to have conversations with you and your new spouse. Depending on your budget, you may also be able to spend more per person for food, drinks, and fun without stretching your budget because your great-aunt’s third husband is there. If you want to go all out with the best bar tenders you can find, go for it! If you want the DJ in town with all the bells and whistles, hire them! With such a small crowd, they can dive into the fun even more.

1 – 10 Guests: Mini Wedding

A bride and groom dancing at their mini wedding surrounded by their close family and friends.

Whether you decide to elope or simply choose to have a handful of loved ones present, a tiny wedding is perfect for some couples. (All you really need to get married, after all, is an officiant and a witness!) The biggest downfall to this type of wedding is that you may have to face questions from those not invited. Some people may get hurt feelings, so begin preparing your reasoning as to why you just want a few people in attendance at your intimate gathering.

A mini wedding gives the couple a chance to step away from the spotlight of a party and focus on one another. Those who are in attendance will feel like royalty as they are part of the chosen few to see your union in motion.

With a mini wedding of less than 10 guests, you can spend more money on what you truly care about—or you can spend the least amount possible by getting married by the justice of the peace and eating at your favorite local restaurant with loved ones afterwards. A tiny wedding can be as big or small as you truly want when it comes to your pocketbook. This is the type of wedding where all of the stress is put aside without a huge party to plan. You can still dance and sing, but it’ll be in a much smaller way with a tiny crowd wishing you a happy ever after.

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