std::vector<CustomClass *> whatever(20000);
std::vector<CustomClass *> whatever; whatever.reserve(20000);
The former sets the actual size of the array -- i.e., makes it a vector of 20000 pointers. The latter leaves the vector empty, but reserves space for 20000 pointers, so you can insert (up to) that many without it having to reallocate.
At least in my experience, it's fairly unusual for either of these to make a huge difference in performance--but either can affect correctness under some circumstances. In particular, as long as no reallocation takes place, iterators into the vector are guaranteed to remain valid, and once you've set the size/reserved space, you're guaranteed there won't be any reallocations as long as you don't increase the size beyond that.