How Many Guests Will Attend?

One of the hardest questions a Bride has to answer "Is how many guests will be attending?". 
If only it were a perfect world and everyone invited to a wedding or any type of event would RSVP on time, attend if they said they were, didn't bring uninvited guests and stayed home if they said they weren't coming.  If a bride could count on this, it would make organizing the seating chart effortless, and you wouldn’t be forced to pay for Macadamia-crusted Mahi Mahi served to an empty chair or to several unexpected attendees.

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Unfortunately, there is no science in determing how many of your invitees will decide to attend. Although you do not want to pay for a meal for an empty chair, you also do not want any of your guests not to receive a meal because of under estimating. Since a perfect world it is not, how can a couple estimate their expected wedding guest count?

The rule of thumb is 80 percent acceptance, but be careful counting on that because many factors can cause variation. Some factors to keep in mind are the time of year; the location (destinations that are hard to reach typically have a larger percentage of regrets); and holiday weekends, which can be a difficult time for some people to travel.



Joyce Scardina Becker, award-winning wedding designer and author of Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding, also advises: “If you’re planning a destination wedding, the average percentage of guests who will be unable to attend is about 30-40%.”Source

We recommend sending save the dates 6 months to 1 year in advance.  If you have guests who are traveling from out of town or you are planning a destination wedding, it is a great way to notify them formally so they can plan for travel. Summer weddings (high vacation months) and Wedding Season (May & October) would also be a good time to send a Save the Date. Although Save the Dates don't actually give you a count, you might get lucky and guests may  let you know if they are planning or not planning to attend.
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Also make it easy for guests to RSVP.  Make sure you put a stamp on the RSVP envelope for easy return.  Another fun way to get RSVP's is to create a wedding website which offers an online RSVP option.

Another suggestion we make to brides is to start contacting people who have not RSVP'd about 2 weeks before the wedding to find out their attendance intentions. 

Hopefully these suggestions will help you get a better count on who's going to help you celebrate on your Big Day!