This Is the Average Wedding Guest List Size in the U.S.

How does yours stack up?
by Maddy Sims and Sophie Ross

Determining your guest list is one of the most—if not the most—important tasks on your wedding planning checklist. The size of your guest list will affect your venue, budget and so many other aspects of your wedding. As you create yours, you may be wondering what the average wedding size in the US is (and how yours compares). Good news: We've got the answer for you.

According to The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding size  is currently 136. (For context, that number is the same as it was in 2017, but down from an all-time high of 153 in 2007.)

While the average size of guest lists might be shrinking, bigger weddings aren’t disappearing. If you're having an enormous black-tie bash with more than 300 of your closest family members and friends, you're certainly not alone. You still make up for 2 percent of weddings in 2018, with guest lists featuring more than 200 names falling closely behind. The study found that 10 percent of weddings have between 200 and 300 guests.

The same goes if you're having a small, intimate affair. Weddings with 50 guests or less account for 10 percent (or 1 in 10) weddings in 2018.  Of course, the vast majority of weddings fall somewhere in the middle. Guests lists consisting of 51 to 150 names accounted for 58 percent of weddings in 2018 (that's where our average size of weddings falls), while celebrations with 151 to 200 guests represented 19 percent of weddings this year.

If you're wondering how you'll possibly decide what size wedding you'll have with so many viable options, consider where you live. According to our study, guest list size varies by region. For example, weddings in West North Central states (aka Minnesota, the Dakotas and Nebraska) typically have the largest guest lists with an average of 174 guests, while weddings taking place in the Mountain states (think Arizona, Colorado and Montana) have the smallest weddings, with an average of 118 guests per event.

If you're still unsure of how many guests to invite to your wedding, you can also look to one rather important vendor for guidance. Venues almost always have a maximum number of people they can safely accommodate. If you're dreaming of a sunny vineyard ceremony, you might not be able to invite every single person you know. However, if you're looking at a big hotel venue or a field out in nature, you may be able to open up the guest list. 

Before you begin putting your wedding guest list together, be sure to sit down with all of the decision makers (read: people contributing to the wedding) and get on the same page. By having the talk early on, you can avoid any snafus or hurt feelings later on. And if you need help navigating those conversations, consider working with a professional wedding planner. These pros have years of expertise under their belts and can act as a mediator during tricky conversations. 

Another reason it's a good idea to talk about your wedding size early on? Cutting people from your guest list can be extremely difficult and stressful—but a lot of couples face this issue (guests lists have a tendency to grow rapidly). Keep in mind that there are people you're not obligated to invite—even if you feel like you are. Once you've decided on a final head count, use The Knot Wedding Guest Manager to keep track of everyone.

Ultimately, as far as we're concerned, size doesn't matter—as long as your guest list includes those who matter most to you (and maybe a few stragglers from your mother-in-law's book club).

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