It's official, wedding season has begun. Whether you love them or loathe them, if it's your own, you'll likely want it to be perfect.
But the good news is, there's no such thing as 'perfect' when it comes to planning your special day – it's all about what works for you. Admittedly, however, the guest list can often be one of the most stressful things to arrange, while also being one of the most important.
So, if you haven't a clue with where to start, take a deep breath. Here, wedding planner Lavinia of Lavinia Stewart-Brown Events, talks through everything you need to know before sending out those invitations.
How many wedding guests should you have?
"There is no 'one size fits all' for this – it is all down to the couple's needs and wants for their special day," says Lavinia.
"However, the one consideration I would make when planning your invites is that not everyone has to attend for the whole day – it is all budget and capacity dependent."
How can you decide on the right number for you?
This generally depends on your budget, the location, and how big or small you want your big day to be.
"A great option is to create one list for the day and another for the evening and then review those in line with your budget, catering and venue capacity," suggests Lavinia.
"In addition, I will always ask couples how they envision their day ahead of looking at venues or marquees – a lot of couples enjoy an intimate setting with just close friends and family and others want a large gathering!"
The best thing you can do is decide on all this first, and then the guest list should come more naturally.
How many guests are suitable for each type of wedding?
Thinking about having a huge celebration or an intimate church or registry wedding? Want family only or a wedding abroad? And what about children? These factors all come in to play.
"No two weddings are ever the same so the numbers are dictated by budget and the venue's capacity!," Lavinia emphasises. "What I do suggest is that you want to be able to spend time with everyone you are inviting in some way, however, intimate can mean one thing to one couple and a different to others!
"Try and finalise your list ahead of sharing it with anyone who might want to make any additions – it is your special day to spend with those you want.”
But while you can never put an exact number on certain venues, Lavinia suggests some ballpark figures depending on the type of wedding you go for.
"In my experience a large full scale wedding can range anywhere from 150 guests plus!" she says.
"For a small church wedding, I would say these can be from 30-60 guests, of course depending on the size and style of the church – a chapel wedding may be far smaller.
"People often pick a registry office to have a smaller amount of guests (this can range from as little as two witnesses) however, registry offices can also seat larger parties. In my experience, the sweet spot for an intimate registry office would be 20-30 guests."
And then, other types of weddings may tweak these numbers further.
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"An abroad wedding is of course a little more complicated and really differs depending on a couple's budget and their availability to pay for guests' travel," explains Lavinia. "They are another great option for couples looking for a more laid-back feel."
Plus, she adds, "More and more people are opting for child-free weddings so this can really shave down numbers, however, I am seeing many having a celebration the day after the wedding which includes the wider family and children."
And, combining the two, "People attending an abroad wedding normally turn it into a holiday and look to source babysitting/nanny or even take family members if it couples are inviting children!"
But remember, the planning should begin with what YOU want. "When it comes to your wedding, always start with your non-negotiables – whether that is your attendee list or the dream venue and work back from there. Finding the budget for these things is so important in the planning process so make sure you prioritise these first."