Calculating Your Guest Count

One wedding planning question I am commonly asked relates to guest count.  How many people can we expect to come?  How many people can we expect to decline?  Is there a rule to calculate our guest count?

There are a lot of factors that go into this:  how close they are to you, how far they will have to travel, how much time they have to plan their trip, what their financial situation is, if they have kids, etc.  The general advice out in the interwebs suggests that you can count on a national average of 80% attendance (so 20% attrition).   However, that is not what I have found for Whidbey Island weddings.  I would say that our local average is probably closer to 10% attrition, so 90% attendance.  Mind you, I have not tracked this officially (but think I will this year!).  The Pacific Northwest is a popular vacation spot, so many people will use your wedding as their excuse to take a vacation here!

calculate your guest count

As you plan your wedding and draft your guest list, I do not advise that you invite more bodies than your venue can hold with the assumption that people will not come (unless you are pretty darn sure of it).  Instead, and this is a bit controversial, you might have a few names on reserve in a “B list” that you can include if you get an adequate number of declines.

To ensure a maximum attendance rate, I recommend using a save-the-date card, and sending that as soon as your date is confirmed (usually when you book your venue).  This will give people the chance to plan ahead, and some may know right away that they can’t come, enabling you to fill their spot with another guest.

Click the links for more info on how to manage your rsvp list, where to source great invites and when to send them out, how to tactfully express “no kids allowed”.  I hope that helps!  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have unanswered wedding planning questions for your Whidbey Island wedding!