There's No Lucky Percentage of Guests Who Will Attend a Wedding

But, here's how to make your best guess.

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Photo: Amanda Wei Photo

Wouldn't it be great if wedding planning were an exact science? When it comes to predicting how many guests will attend a wedding, it's nearly impossible to accurately estimate what percentage of the overall guest list will affirmatively respond to your invite. Although many wedding planners will quote somewhere in the range of 60-75 percent attendance, there are many factors at play that can easily influence that range. Here, we sort through how to make your most educated hypothesis about how many people will be there to celebrate on the big day.

Just as every wedding is different, so is every guest list.

The location and date of your wedding are the biggest factors in determining how many guests will attend, but details like what it'll cost to attend and whether your wedding falls over a holiday weekend can also influence the final numbers. Have you given your guests ample notice of your wedding date by sending a save-the-date well in advance? If so, you may have a higher response rate than a couple that opts to send out invitations only.

The best guess is one that falls on the high end.

A local wedding, with the majority of guests living within driving distance of the venue, is likely to have the highest attendance rate. Elizabeth McKellar , wedding planner and founder of The Nouveau Romantics, says, "We rarely see over 75% of guests reply 'yes' on their RSVPs." Yet, couples hosting intimate weddings with only immediate family and very close friends invited may see a higher response rate.

The destination wedding difference.

Due to the expensive nature of destination weddings, for which guests often have to purchase flights, hotel rooms, and take time away from work, positive response rates tend to be lower. McKellar says, "We usually see, on average, 65-70% of guests RSVP 'yes' for destination weddings." Depending on the location and how difficult it is to reach, how costly the trek is, and how comfortable guests are with travel, that number could significantly fluctuate.

The best way to figure out how many guests will attend your wedding.

The best way to determine who will attend your wedding is to go through your guest list line by line and consider each person's likelihood individually. Taking factors like disposable income, comfort level with travel, location, your relationship, and the wedding date into consideration will help you sort through the list and get an idea of how many maybe, most likely, and absolutes are on your list. Only by counting each guest with their specific likelihood can you determine your most probable guest count in order to make accurate budget estimates and know how many invitations to send.

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