Standard rule of thumb for the industry says that about 75-80% of your guests will RSVP yes to your wedding. I used to use the same rule of thumb but now insist that if a guest is invited, there will be room for them – i.e. no inviting 200 people to a wedding venue that can only hold 160.
Why do I insist on this for my couples? Because of Lindsay and Nick’s wedding.
Lindsay and Nick were married on private property under a gorgeous tent overlooking Bass Lake in Cleveland in July of 2006. The invited guest list numbered 184. We reserved a tent that would hold 160 plus a dance floor – a generous cushion or so I thought. Lindsay began to get a little worried about 5 weeks before the wedding when literally every one of their RSVPs were yes. I assured her that most of the time the yes responses come first with the no responses coming in later and not to worry – the nos would be coming!
I was wrong. I was so very wrong.
When all was said and done and all the RSVPs were in they had 179 guests attending. They had a 97.3% positive RSVP rate. 5 people said no. FIVE. Our planned for tent wasn’t large enough, we had to order more tables and chairs and a bigger tent! We also just had to hope it didn’t rain because the property barely had enough room for the bigger tent unless we wanted to seat guests on an embankment and there was no nice wide aisle if we had to seat people at their tables for the ceremony!
On wedding day, it rained (and a mini tornado came through the day before during set up – that’s a story I only tell over drinks!) so the ceremony had to be held inside that tent with guests seated at their tables – it was cramped and the aisle wound through the guest tables and it was humid and muddy but everyone had a GREAT time which in the end is all that matters! I was thankful that we were at a location that allowed us to up-size everything at the very last minute.
Go ahead and plan on 75-80% of your invited guests attending but remember Lindsay and Nick and budget and space plan for 100% to be on the safe side – you just never know what could happen!