How to Calculate the Number of Wedding Guests

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Wedding GuestsOne of the most critical aspects of wedding planning is figuring out how many people will attend the ceremony.  It’s definitely not as easy as it sounds, because inevitably some people will fail to show up or will be late with their RSVP. 

So whether you’re the mother of the bride or the bride herself, follow the tips in this post to get as accurate a count as humanly possible so you do not have to put your planning activities on hold.

Of course you must first determine who you will invite, and whether or not they can bring their own guest (whatever you decide here, make sure it’s crystal clear in the wedding invitation wording).  In order to come up with an initial count, sometimes it helps to set an “attendee budget” that you can work toward.  For example, if you want to invite 100 people to the wedding, start jotting down the names in priority order and simply stop once you’ve reached the magic number.

But alas, it’s not quite that easy because obviously some people will not attend.  A good rule of thumb is that approximately 75-85% of your family invites will attend.  For non-family members it’s a little trickier because it really depends on their financial wherewithal, their geographic location, and how close you are to them.  For example, a current colleague at work is probably a safe bet to accept the invitation, but an old high school friend who lives 2 states away would be less likely to come.

So one thing that is usually a good idea when you’re trying to come up with an initial estimate is to divide your invite list into in-state and out of state attendees.  For out of state invites, reduce your attendance likelihood estimation by 10%.  So for example, assume that 85% of your in-state relatives will attend but only 75% of your out-of-state relatives will show up.  For non-family members, assume that 75% of in-state invitees will come but only 65% of out-of-state invitees will come.

Once you’ve estimated your overall decline percentages, simply do the math to come up with your initial estimate.  This will allow you to get a jumpstart on everything, as you’ll be able to start planning before you get all the RSVPs back.  This is extremely helpful, because as they say, the proverbial early bird gets the worm!

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