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Inspiration » Wedding Planning » Big Weddings Versus Small Weddings: Pros and Cons

Big Weddings Versus Small Weddings: Pros and Cons

by Aubrey Bach
Big Weddings Versus Small Weddings: Pros and Cons

Deciding how many people to invite to your wedding would be something akin to Goldilocks finding her ideal bowl of porridge. There’s a perfect guest list size for every wedding — but finding your magic number will probably involve a few stumbles along the way. The experts at Joy can’t tell you exactly how many people to invite to your wedding, but we can give you a rundown of some of the pros and cons to big weddings versus small weddings, and help you decide which is better for you.


Before we start with the checklist, let’s get a few facts established. First, there is no “right” size wedding. That’s a totally personal decision that you should make based on your budget, your family and friends, and your personal style. However, if you prefer some baseline numbers over touchy-feely stuff, here are some statistics about wedding size from to get you started:

  • The average wedding size in the United States is 136 guests
  • The average wedding costs $31,213

Of course, you are anything but average, even if you invite exactly 136 guests to your wedding.


  1. Two words: dance party. To put it simply, it’s easier to dance like nobody’s watching if you are in a big crowd, so bigger guests lists usually lead to more dancing, and more rambunctious parties overall. If you want your ceremony to be a party, bigger usually equals better.
  2. Fewer arguments over who makes the guest list. When you open up the guest list, you generally find yourself in fewer arguments over exactly who gets an invitation. If you have the space and budget to let your in-laws invite some distant relatives and give some single friends a plus-one, you’ll save yourself a lot of uncomfortable conversations.
  3. More people to capture more memories. When you have more people at your wedding (using Joy to share photos and videos, naturally), you’ll get a lot more pictures documenting the wedding festivities from more points of view. That means more memories, and more people who get to be part of the biggest day of your life.
  4. Your wedding will create new relationships amongst your guests. Weddings aren’t just about you and your new spouse — weddings are a chance for your family and friends to come together and form a whole new community around you. The more guests you have, the more new relationships form, and that’s (almost) always a good thing. (And maybe you’ll even see a love connection form between some new “friends.”)
  5. Big weddings may lead to better marriages. According to an article in Psychology Today, studies suggest that “…the types of weddings associated with lower likelihood of divorce are those that are relatively inexpensive but are high in attendance.” Basically, couples who say “I do” in front of a crowd of people they love tend to get divorced less, possibly because, as indicated by the size of their guest list, they have stronger support systems. (Remember though, correlation is not causation — so don’t sweat a small guest list!)


  1. You’ll actually get to talk to your guests. Or dance with them. Or take pictures with them. Or take shots with them. However you choose to interact with your nearest and dearest, the smaller your wedding, the more time you’ll get to spend with each person during the reception.
  2. It’s (usually) cheaper. Buying in bulk may be a good thing when you are buying toilet paper, but when it comes to weddings, every guest to invite is another mouth to feed, another Chivari chair to rent, and another favor to make or buy. Smaller guest lists generally translate into smaller budgets.
  3. You can splurge on the important details. When costs go down, you can spend a little more on details that matter to you. When your guest list isn’t overwhelming, it’s easier to go for the nicer wine, the shoes you’ve been lusting over, or the upgrade on the honeymoon suite.
  4. You’ll know everybody’s name. When you keep your guest list small, the chances of your mom inviting her high school English teacher’s life partner to the big day (and the awkward interaction that follows a total stranger congratulating on your beautiful wedding ceremony) suddenly diminish.
  5. You know exactly what your guests will like. When you have a small wedding and close personal relationships with each guest, it’s easy to predict what will please the (small) crowd. Whether that means a certain kind of cuisine, dress code or playlist, you’ll spend less time guessing and more time deciding.


You tell us — is bigger better? Or are you partial to small weddings? Tell us what kind of wedding you are planning, and why, on Facebook, Twitter or in the comment section below.

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