Magic wedding math: how to estimate guest list numbers using a simple equation #Friends & Family Advice#guest list#guests#rsvp Updated Dec 30 2015 (Posted Nov 25 2015) Catherine Clark bijouxandbits Photos by: Mike Allebach Photography Photo by Mike Allebach Photography Related Post How to attack a guest list like a ninja As a wedding planner, I know that one of the main challenges our clients tackle is narrowing down their guest list. Coming from a huge... Read more You've got to get that guest list number to your caterer, your venue, your uncle, your cat… everyone needs this number, right? How are you supposed to figure it out when you know your guests are slacking with their RSVPs? The best way to guesstimate this number is to sit down with your list and figure out the likelihood of each person, but if you're needing the number NAONAONAO, we've got some math that may help. Here's our advice for how to estimate guest list numbers. Your local guest numbers Related Post 3 ways to chase down RSVPs from lazy guests I'm five weeks out from my wedding, and I'm still missing about 30% of my RSVPs. We won't get into why it's so hard for... Read more Local guests are far more likely to come to your wedding. We'd suggest thinking 80-85%. If you have a hard maximum due to venue restrictions, you may want to err on the side of 85-90% just to be safe. Don't forget to count plus-ones and children, if they're invited. Your out-of-town guests guest numbers If out-of-towners aren't coming in internationally, you'll mostly be focusing on how close they are to you and if they've got the means to come, financially. If money isn't a big issue, account for about 70-75%. If your wedding guest list is large and full of less close acquaintances, lower it to 40-50% attendance rate. Destination weddings Typically, attendance rates for destination weddings will be much lower, in the 30-40% range. Now, let's math it out: Let's err on the safe side and choose the larger of the numbers we mentioned before, assuming you're not having a destination wedding and that your out-of-towners can generally afford the trip: (number of local guests x 90%) + (number of out-of-town guests x 75%) = total number of estimated guests So if you have 120 people on your guest list, 30 of which are out-of-towners, and 90 are local, here's how it will play out: (90 x 90%) + (30 x 75%)= approximately 104 guests VOILA! You've now got a kinda sorta wonky number you can give out. Just know that you'll need to be diligent about watching the actual numbers roll in to be sure. This is no guaranteed number. Ready your B List Related Post What to do when an uninvited guest RSVPs for the wedding you didn't invite them to attend So, we've talked about How to tell your guests they don't get a +1. We've gone over 10 blunt-but-loving ways to tell people they're not... Read more B List guests are those who are on your secondary guest list as declines come in. You don't have to have this list, but it can definitely be helpful. Here's an excerpt from a post all about this: What's that you say? Crotchety Aunt Begonia refused to attend because she's always hated your father? (Yay!) And best friend from out-of-town is going to be giving birth around that time? (Bummer.) There is only one way to celebrate or bounce back from a declined RSVP: Turn to your B-list! Guess who's getting an invite now… that new friend you made two months after you sent out your invites, and a couple of your partners' favorite co-workers. A and B lists are often a part of wedding planning realities, and they don't speak for how much a couple cares for you. So snatch up those B list invites, and have a great time! Because Aunt Begonia wouldn't even come close to having the kind of fun you're about to have at your friend's wedding. More sage guest list advice: Related Post You're on standby: why I love being a B-list wedding guest True story: I was recently a B-list attendee at a wedding, and it was awesome. I didn't have any less fun because I was a last-minute addition -- I just… Read More Do you have any other guest list estimation advice for us? Catherine Clark Catherine Clark loiters at her local library, makes art, watches movies en masse, plays video and tabletop games, poorly cooks healthy things, cuddles with her feline fur babies, and blogs at BijouxandBits.com. @enidjcoleslaw @bijouxandbits @bijouxandbits PREVIOUS Steal these 35+ super offbeat gift registry ideas from REAL SoKind registries NEXT A canoe entrance, a dock jump, and a breastfeeding mama round out this fab camp wedding Show/Hide comments [ 9 ] I would hate to disagree with this, but I feel that if you send out an invitation to a friend or family member, you should tell your caterer the number of invites you sent out. Some say to plan for +10% of the RSVP's, but that is bad advice as well. We as wedding planners try to make our clients look good before their friends and family, so we tell them if your looking to save money invite less guests. It's just too easy, in the fast-paced lives we all live, to forget that RSVP. Reply I wonder if they wrote this from the perspective of guessing how many people you invite to hit your target number of attendees, and not with the intention of saving money or being dishonest with vendors about how many people you invited. My caterer and wedding planner asked me how many people we expected to attend vs. how many people we invited, to make sure we didn't invite 200 and expect only 100 to show (that's a made up example). Plus, my caterer won't send me the final invoice until much closer to my wedding based on the number of RSVPs. At the end of the day, most caterers are charging per person, so if you lie to them and say only 100 people are coming, and 130 people show up, either 30 people won't have meals, or if by some miracle there is extra food, the caterer will charge you for the extra meals. While I don't think it was the intention of the article, I do agree that if you are that strapped that you can't afford 10 extra meals or place settings, you shouldn't invite those 10 extra people as there are weddings that do have 100% attendance. The article I think assumes that the paying parties can afford the extra meals if everyone RSVP's yes, but is helping brides figure out that if they want 100 of their friends and family there, but not much more, what is the ideal number during the invite stage to invite. People not in the wedding industry don't have any reference until they start planning their own wedding. Reply Question: what qualifies as an "out-of-towner"? We're getting married about an hour away from where we live, and no one in the wedding technically lives in that town. Most friends are about two to the hours away, and family is around the same. But some are regular commuters, so… Reply This is who I would count as an out-of-towner: 1) Anyone who has to fly in. 2) Anyone who *should* fly in because of distance but might not because of cost constraints or distance from a good airport 3) People that live far enough away that they would most likely get a hotel room rather than drive home. * * I don't count people that just want to get a room so they can par-tay 😉 Reply +1 Kacy my thoughts exactly. Reply Thanks Kacy and Gary! Reply I'm pretty sure I have been on the 'b-list' of every wedding I have attended this year. We are the friends who live locally, will show up on time, dress appropriately and will never be offended that we weren't invited the first time around. We had a blast at each & every wedding though so I think a 'B-list' is a totally appropriate way to plan a guest list, Reply I have an unusual one….getting married in a destination wedding I suppose, but it's the state I grew up in, half way between both sets of parents/family. 80-90 (with kids) people invited, rented a whole retreat for them to stay at…but can only fit about 70…really hoping for 60 just so there is ample amount of space! I highly doubt 30 people will RSVP no 🙁 — one can only hope though!! 😉 Reply I have a question. We signed a wedding contract stating that we would have 115 guests. This was one year in advance. Unfortunately we have 97 guests. The caterer said we still have to pay for 115 guests. Am I entitled to arrange pick up of the additional meals? It’s over 3,000 dollars worth of food. Reply Join the conversation Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published. 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