destination wedding planning

Destination Wedding 101: The Guest List & Invites

One of the major dilemmas couples face is finalizing who makes it to the wedding. It’s hard trying to accommodate your loved ones as per the venue capacity guidelines and trying not to offend people while trimming down the often too-long list. But our planners suggest inviting only those you really want there. After all, this is your day, and you should be surrounded by those you love and who love you! So once you’ve got the perfect venue, a destination planner that understands your vision, and your favorite photographer on board, it’s now time to work on who makes it on your guest list! A tough one, we know. But with insights from destination planners who have been helping couples with their weddings for years, we’re here to make your life a little easier when it comes to finalizing your guest count and sending out invites.


The Guest Count


destination wedding guests

Picture Courtesy: @pablobeglez


Destination weddings are often more personal as compared to traditional weddings. You’re spending your budget on multiple extra factors, including flights, larger venues, and external services like transport and travel experts. With destination weddings, you’ll also want to create a unique experience for your guests, planning activities, arranging gift bags, and giving them a taste of local cultures. Keeping all this in mind, you won’t want just anyone at your wedding, would you? Of course, you’ll want the people closest to you. The majority of our experts suggest sticking to a more intimate guest list so you can ensure everyone feels welcomed and loved. See what else they have to share about finalizing their guest list.


When inviting guests, you should first decide on whether you want a small wedding or a larger celebration. More people = bigger budget (and perhaps, lesser details). Depending on the type of wedding, you’ll get an idea of how many people would fit the occasion. Just imagine an elopement with a hundred people. That’s no more an elopement, is it? That’s a full-blown wedding!


Our DWP 2022 speaker Evelyn Mills is an extraordinary sought-after planner from Hong Kong and the Founder of Marriage Maestros. She says, “It is entirely up to you depending on your budget and the capacity of the venue (including a backup for plan B in case of inclement weather). Generally, the ideal number of guests for an intimate overseas wedding ranges from 70-120 guests, whereas larger destination weddings can range between 150-250 guests.”

Rahul Kumar, Founder of Vivaah Celebrations, UAEfurther suggests, “Invite just the right number of guests that you can give your personal attention to,” which can make their experience all the more special and personalized.


Eric Sugiono, Founder of Poetyque Events, Indonesiapoints out the same, stating, “Destination wedding will be about the experience that you will share with closest ones. You don’t wanna spend your destination wedding having to hang out with the people you’re not really close to.”

Adding to Evelyn’s suggestion, Fernanda Silva, Founder of Wedding Luxe, Brazil shares, “It all depends on where your destination wedding is. If you have clients coming from the US to Europe, you should expect fewer guests (app.60), whereas if they go from the US to Mexico, you will probably have more guests as the destination is closer (around 100 guests or more). It all depends on budget and how close the destination is.”


While working on the guest list, it is also important that you think about your venue selection. After all, one major factor that your list will depend on is the type of venue you’ve chosen and the accommodation available to host all your guests. Apart from venue capacity, we recommend adding into account food and beverages that can easily make up 35-40% of your overall budget. Considering overnight accommodations available within the area is also something that can help you be better prepared when finalizing guests and giving them alternate options for their convenience!


“Guest count should solely be based on preferred financial preference. Couples should evaluate what’s most important to them.” Expresses Nahid Farhoud, Founder of Nahid Global Events, USA.

Questions to ask themselves are:

a) Can we still have our luxury + high design wedding with a 300 guest count?

b) Is it more important to us to have an intimate gathering or include everyone?


The Deed of Sharing the Deets – Sending Out Invites


destination wedding invites

Pictures Courtesy: @rileyandgrey & @fourteen_forty


Once you’re done with your guest list (FINALLY, yay!), it’s time to send out those invites and share all those juicy deets about the main event (and the pre-event, the after-party, and everything in between). Because let’s face it. You’re having a destination wedding! If you’re having guests fly over, it’s bound to be a multi-day celebration, and you’re definitely going to have a lot of info to share with your peeps. To make sure you and your guests are well-prepared for the grand international occasion, everything from when to send out save the dates to what to pack into those suitcases should be shared ahead of time. Well, here’s all you need to know from the planning veterans.


Evelyn tells us, “We generally recommend couples send out their Save the Dates as soon as they have confirmed their dates and destination. Generally, this would be nine months ahead of time. This would allow their guests enough time to plan their vacation or apply for leave from work, travel visas, renew their passports and arrange their schedules.”

When asked about the benefits of creating a wedding website, she goes on to share, “Having a wedding website is essential as it is the best way to collect, collate, share and change information of your wedding in one place that is accessible to everyone (you, your guests, and your planner). The website should ideally be up and ready for guests to view within six months of the wedding. Nowadays, more and more couples who have wedding websites opt out of sending formal printed invitations for eco and economical reasons. However, for those who do have a website but still wish to keep with tradition, we normally recommend that they send out their formal printed invitations no later than three months prior to their wedding.”

Founder Judy Maligaspe of Wera Events LLC, USA, suggests: “Due to mail getting lost and things don’t arrive on time, it’s important to send a physical one and a digital invite. A wedding website can keep things organized for you.”

“If it’s a destination wedding, a website can have RSVP forms and is essential to the booking process, it will also not be as necessary to have paper invites/stationery. The website could be up as early as six months prior, but during such uncertain times, three months are early enough in my opinion.” – Sandy Hany Halim Ayad Sandy, Life Creations Celebrations, Egypt.

Talking about the timeline of sending out your invites, Nahid advises, “Save the dates should be sent out 8-12 months prior to the wedding date, and wedding invitations should be sent out 4-5 months prior to the wedding date. Ideally, it is best to have the wedding website with key location details shared and your registry included at least 8 months prior.”


With a wedding website, you can give plenty of information regarding the location of the event, recommendations about what to do, what to eat, and what to shop at the destination, transportation details and a couple of accommodation options (preferably at different price points), and the essentials to carry along. Having a useful tool like this, your guests won’t constantly be asking you questions that they can go to your wedding website for.

“From travel tips and accommodation options to any pre or post-wedding events you may have organized, a detailed wedding website will make it much easier for guests to prepare for your upcoming celebrations.” Recommends Romina Ferraretto, Founder of Romina Ferraretto Events Planner, Argentina.


On the other hand, we have Rahul with a great alternate suggestion that could easily replace the wedding website, depending on your preference. “We would much rather suggest Apps as they are easier to navigate with handheld devices such as Smart Phones or Tablets. We have seen that a neatly designed wedding app comes in more handy and increases the engagement level of your guests before and during your wedding.”

“We as planners now swear by ‘the wedding guide’ that we send out with the same information over WhatsApp, which of course comes more handy.” – Anisha Verma, Director, Riwaaz-E-Rishte, India.




Finalizing your venue (and looking at nearby stay options) will provide you with guidelines for your guest list. Once you have that in place and know what type of wedding you want, it’s best to send out save the dates as soon as possible. This gives your guests more time to clear their schedules and be prepared for the celebrations. When it comes to sending out official invites, most of our expert planners have suggested a timeline of at least 4-8 months prior, allowing guests to get everything in place, right from visas and flight tickets to appropriate attire. With these tips in mind, you won’t have to feel pressured into inviting guests you don’t want or feel guilty for not inviting every single person you know!

Are you still looking for the right vendors and the perfect venue? If yes, our wedding pros have shared more on how and when to make your bookings. Read more on that for tips that can help you kickstart a smooth journey of wedding planning!


Feature Image Credit: @liamcollardphotography