How To Determine The Perfect Sized Wedding For You



When you think of your dream wedding, how do you imagine the crowd? Are you surrounded by hundreds of your dearest friends and family members, or is it a much more intimate-sized reception?

There are many factors that go in to determining the perfect sized wedding for you so we put together this list to help you figure it out!

The Role of the Budget

It’s most important to establish your wedding budget early on in your process. This will greatly assist you in knowing how much money you have to spend on your wedding.

A large amount of money is often spent on food and beverage which is often priced per head. This means that the difference in cost between 10, 100 or 300 guests is substantial and can make or break a budget!

If you are trying to host an event that is larger than your bankroll, you may have to make menu sacrifices or seek out less expensive venues/catering options.

Other common budget saving tips for wedding food and beverage include hosting a smaller meal earlier in the day, like breakfast or brunch or limiting bar options from open to pre-selected wines, beers and specialty beverages. Most venues and caterers have various packages at various price points to offer so ensure that you fully explore your options before making any decisions.

Who is Contributing?

If you are paying for your own wedding, you are entitled to more ownership over the guest list (size and invitees) than you may be if parents or other family members are offering to contribute. Sometimes accepting checks from others will involve their say in who will be invited which can get out of hand. The smartest approach to this type of situation is to have an honest conversation with contributors if you feel necessary before you accept their money so everyone is on the same page in terms of guest list and priorities.

Know Your Region’s Show Rate

I often remind people about the “show” rate for weddings, because destination weddings in particular will run around 80%. That’s a pretty decent show rate compared to many types of events.

Sometimes destination wedding couples think they can invite a larger guest list under the assumption that most people won’t want to travel but this can be a mistake! What if people you didn’t plan on paying for to attend actually decide to come? Stick to sending out invitations for the number of guests you know you can accommodate.

Meg Baisden Photography

Photo Credit: Meg Baisden Photography


Of course there’s always the option of the B- List. A B-List is your second list of people you may decide to invite only after receiving your RSVP’s and learn you have room to accommodate additional guests. Having a B-List can be complicated, ead to confusion, hurt feelings and overcrowding when not handled correctly. B-Lists can be fine in certain situations if you do them appropriately. However, you should never send a save-the-date to someone who you are not certain you will be able to actually invite.

Important to note: B- List invites need to go out as quickly following the first RSVP date as possible to avoid anyone discovering that someone was considered an alternate.

Once you understand the factors that go into creating an invite list, you can use the information to create the perfect sized wedding for you. Good luck!

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere. 

Of Possible Interest:

What To Consider When Seeking Small Event Venues 

Wedding Guest List