exchanging vows in front of a wooden cross
While we often say (and believe) that the most important part of a wedding is the love and connection between the couple, there’s no doubt that the guests are also kind of a big deal! More and more often, we hear engaged couples tell us that one of the most important aspects of their wedding day is sharing it with their loved ones. So it’s no wonder that your guest list is pretty crucial when you’re planning a wedding!

But even before you get to the “who” of you guest list, there a big decision to make … and that is the question of “how many?” The size of the guest list can have a huge impact on many facets of your wedding day! Here at MJP, most of the weddings we photograph have 100 - 150 guests, but we've shot elopements with zero guests, all the way up to weddings with several hundred. Determining the perfect sized guest list is something each couple must decide together. So how do you decide on the number of guests to have at your wedding? Here are three of the biggest factors to consider as you and your fiancé decide how many guests to invite for your big day:

1. Budget
Budget is a BIG one. There is no other single factor that will impact your budget as much as the number of guests. The number of guests directly influences how many invitations, chairs, tables, centerpieces, linens, meals, and favors you will be providing. When planning the size of your guest list, ask yourself how much you ideally want to spend on your wedding and be honest with yourselves about how many guests that budget can cover while still providing you with the wedding you are dreaming of. If you choose to stretch your guest list, you may need to compromise on some other spending choices.
elegant and simple wedding invitations
almost naked wedding cake
2. Location
It’s important to consider where you’ll be getting married. Are you jet setting to a tropical location? Or are you getting married locally? Typically, a destination wedding shrinks the guest list since travel is expensive and not possible for everyone. If you are getting married locally, you have a little more leeway in the number of guests you can invite, BUT you still need to take into account the venue you choose. Most venues have a maximum capacity for the number of guests they can hold. When you’re touring venues and searching for your dream spot, we suggest asking the venue what their maximum capacity is. If you find your perfect venue, but it holds less people than you were hoping to invite, you’ll have a tough decision on your hands! You will need to either trim the guest list or search for a new location. When possible, it’s better to head off this kind of catch-22 by finding out the capacity of a venue before falling in love with it!

3. Personal Priorities
The size of your guest list ultimately comes down to which aspects of the wedding you and your fiancé prioritize. Who do you picture celebrating with you both on one of the most important days of your life? For some that could easily be 200+ people! For others, it may be only one or two dozen guests. Either way, it’s helpful to talk with your fiancé about who you both definitely want there. While having this conversation, try to talk in concrete numbers. You would be surprised how differently people can interpret phrases like "small wedding." It’s also helpful to decide together whether you want to include plus-ones, kids, or co-workers.

There’s no question that planning the size of the guest list is a huge undertaking, but you CAN DO IT! Take your budget, location, and personal priorities into account and make sure you get on the same page about the guest list early-on in the planning process. When it comes time for the fun part -- celebrating with everyone you love -- you'll be so thankful you did!
------> If you are engaged and planning your guest list, you may also be thinking about your bridal party. Click here to download a FREE tool to keep your wedding party organized. We've created a handy form for you to keep all of the contact info for your wedding party in one simple place! Download your copy today!
Don't forget these three important things when planning the size of your guest list!
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