You’ve just started to plan your dream destination wedding – where it will be located, how it may look, and what kind of dress you want to wear. Next up: it’s the guest list. You’ll find out pretty early on that the first question every vendor wants to know is how many guests you’ll have at your wedding. And it’s an even more important question when you’re planning a destination wedding. We understand that it can be really hard to plan when the wedding is 18 months away, but your guest list for your destination wedding is something that really cannot wait.

In this article we’ll discuss why it’s so vital, how you can start your guest list, and most importantly, how to estimate how many rooms you will actually need for your wedding event.

What’s the average destination wedding size?

Traditionally, destination wedding guest lists are smaller than weddings held at home. This is because it’s usually more logistically complex and more expensive for guests to travel, so some people unfortunately won’t be able to make it.

Many of the couples we work with have, on average, about 70-90 guests in total – which equates to around 40 rooms being booked at the resort.

When working on your guest list please remember that not everyone you invite will end up coming to your wedding. Destination weddings typically require a flight and an extended stay at your chosen wedding location, which is usually 4 or 5 nights.

However, the result is often a much more intimate wedding experience, with more opportunities to actually spend time with the guests who are able to join you, in a beautiful sunny location.

Why is the number of rooms so important to your planner? 

el dorado royale casitasIt’s really important to work out early on roughly how many guests you will have at your destination wedding. In fact, this will be one of the first questions that your wedding planner or travel professional will ask you. 

Knowing the number of rooms required for your destination wedding will dictate the type of resort that they will recommend. Imagine if your travel agent started to talk to you about a dreamy Mexican resort and you started to fall in love with the place… only to be told later that they don’t have enough space to accommodate your party. That would be less than ideal!

As travel professionals, we want to be certain we’re recommending hotels and resorts that are right for you and your guests, and that the resorts meet your specific requirements.

How to get started on your guest list

We recommend that you sit down with your partner and work on the guest list together. Invite the people in your life that you care about the most, the people that you love and make you feel good. The people that will make your wedding even more special. 

A good idea is to start off with your immediate family members from both sides. Then add the members of your bridal party like the best man, maid of honor and bridesmaids.

Next up it’s your closest friends. Work through each of your friendship groups and decide who are the most important. Make sure you agree with your partner on who makes the final cut. 

Then think about your extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins. This can be tricky for some people… Who do you WANT to be on the list?

What about the people you work with – past and present? Close family friends?

And lastly, have you decided whether you are inviting kids to your destination wedding? The answer to this question will dictate whether you’ll have to host your wedding at a family-friendly or adults-only resort. 

How to estimate how many rooms you’ll actually need

dreams riviera cancunSo, how do you estimate how many rooms you’re going to need for your destination wedding? Our #1 tip is to open up your laptop and create a good old Excel spreadsheet. It all comes down to three key columns. 

Firstly, in one column, write down your full guest list – this should be every person that you would love to invite to your wedding.

Then in the second column, write down the people from the list who will DEFINITELY be coming – your close family, your best friends, your bridal party. These are the ones that you can rely on to 100% be there at your destination wedding, no matter what.

In the third column, write down the names of the people from the first list who you know won’t be able to make it. You probably already have an idea of who they might be – those who can’t travel, those who are pregnant and will have a newborn, those who have an extra hard time taking time off of work. It’s helpful to be realistic about this!

From our experience, 60% of those invited to a destination wedding will attend. Having this figure on hand will help you and your travel professional block the correct number of rooms for you at your selected resort.

If we know people won’t be able to come, should we invite them anyway?

Even though it may feel unnecessary, the right thing to do is extend an invitation to anyone you truly want to attend – even if you know they probably won’t be able to make it. They will (hopefully) be touched that you thought of them. And who knows, they might even surprise you and book the room!

When should we send out the invites?

Remember that people attending a destination wedding will require a lot more advance notice compared to a regular wedding at home. A destination wedding requires guests to plan to take time off of work, book their flights and hotel, and – for those leaving their kids at home – arrange babysitters and childcare. 

Therefore, we recommend that you send out your save-the-dates 12-18 months before the event, if possible. 

Your actual invites and wedding website can be finalized a little later, but remember that your guests will require a lot more time and information to confirm their attendance. Ideally, you should send your destination wedding invitations out a year in advance.

Recap: How Many Guests Should I Have At My Destination Wedding?

We hope that this has given you some guidance in planning the guest list for your destination wedding

Once you have the final list in place and your guests start to confirm their attendance, the excitement really begins and planning can begin! 

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Hi, I am Jared

Our team of destination wedding travel advisors has planned hundreds of weddings throughout the world, with a specialty in Mexico and the Caribbean. As an award-winning travel agency with top reviews from Wedding Wire and the Knot, we would love to help you plan your dream destination wedding!
If you need any assistance planning your destination wedding, connect with us here.