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Wedding Invitations: How to Estimate the Number of Guests Who Can Come to Your Wedding


If there was a way to predict exactly how many invited guests will respond with a “yes,” it would solve many a pre-wedding argument. Oh, one can dream!

Dear Wedding Guru: “We have a limited budget and we booked a reception venue that absolutely cannot hold more than 90 guests. How can I figure out how many guests will actually come to my wedding?”

(Our answer on next page)

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The Wedding Guru says: Based on the experiences of other couples and the special circumstances regarding your wedding, I’m sure we can produce a fairly accurate number. If more than 200 guests are invited, we can assume between 25 and 28 percent will be unable to attend. If less than 200 are invited, the percentage usually drops to somewhere between 15 and 20 percent who cannot attend. Some consultants use the following formula:

.65(2 x number of invitations) = estimated head count
(in other words, 65 percent of double the amount of invitations you send)

Also, remember to take these facts into consideration:

  • The more out-of-town guests that are invited and the further people need to travel long distances, the greater the number of “nos”
  • Know your family. Some families are extremely close, and everyone who’s invited will make a point come. If this describes your family, take a lesson from it!
  • Be mindful of your reception location. Even if your reception venue is near where most of your guests live, it may be out of the way and difficult to reach by public transportation.
  • Include the time of day of your wedding in your calculations. If guests will need to find accommodations before or after the wedding — and you’re not picking up the tab — the added expense might turn away some guests

That all being said, there really is no perfect formula, so you may want to resort to an “A List” and a “B List,” the latter guests getting invitations only when a guest on the “A List” declines. That’s the only way you’ll be sure not to exceed the allotted head count.

Once your RSVPs come in, you’ll be faced with the daunting task of making up the table seating for your guests. This article may help. Good luck!

» More on wedding invitations
» More from The Wedding Guru
» Submit a question to the Wedding Guru
» Hudson Valley Weddings 2013


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