Share on Pinterest

Published: 10/25/2018 | Revised 4/8/2024

When planning a wedding or any event, creating a guest list can be quite challenging for couples. It’s difficult to predict the exact number of guests who will attend. Just because you invite 150 guests doesn’t guarantee that this will be the actual number of attendees. The general rule is that 80-90 percent of those invited will accept the invitation; however, various factors can cause this percentage to fluctuate.

Source: St. Croix Designs

Unfortunately there is no science to determining how many of your invitees will decide to attend. 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, don’t bring uninvited guests, and stay home if they said they weren’t coming.  If a couple could count on this, it would make organizing the seating chart effortless, and you wouldn’t be forced to pay for Filet Mignon served to an empty chair or to several unexpected attendees.

Photo Credit: Knotting Hill Photography

Since we do not live in a perfect world, how can a couple estimate their expected wedding guest count? Some factors to consider are the time of year, the location (destinations that are hard to reach typically have a higher percentage of regrets), and holiday weekends, which can be a difficult time for some people to travel. Also, keep in mind that Nashville is a place many people have dreamed of visiting, and many guests may use your wedding as a reason to finally get to visit.

When I was a wedding planner, I would recommend my couples send save the dates 6 months to 1 year in advance especially if you have guests who are traveling from out of town or you are planning a destination wedding. Save the Dates are a great way to notify guests informally so they can plan for travel. Summer weddings (high vacation months) and Wedding Season (May & October) are also a good time to send them. Although Save the Dates don’t actually give you a count, they often prompt guests to let you know of their plans early.

Source: paperKuts Studio

Also, make it easy for guests to RSVP. Make sure you put a stamp and return address on the RSVP envelope so it can be easily returned. Another fun way to get RSVPs is to create a wedding website that offers an online RSVP option.

Source: paperKuts Studio

Since most caterers need your guest count about 2 weeks before your wedding date, I suggest contacting guests who have not RSVP’d about 4 weeks before the wedding to find out their attendance intentions.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Vaughan Photography

Hopefully these suggestions help you get a better idea of who will be there to celebrate with you on your Big Day!

Photo Credit: Wilde Company

Feature Photo Credit: Rebecca Vaughan Photography


Leave a Reply