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How to Deal When More People RSVP "Yes" Than You Anticipated

Don't panic, this is a problem you can solve.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Collin Hughes

When you started putting together your guest list, you were certain that the affirmative RSVPs would come in around a particular total. Now that you've received the final head count, it looks like your guests had another thing in mind: More people have RSVP'd "yes" than you expected—maybe even a lot more. Before you start panicking, know that this is a fairly common problem. To avoid it entirely, only send invitations to the maximum number of guests you're comfortable hosting, but if it's too late for that and you're already dealing with guest list regret, here's what to do about it.

 

Related: How to Word Your Invitations for Every Type of Wedding

 

Keep calm and methodical.

First off, relax. Since you wisely asked guests to RSVP three to four weeks prior to your wedding, you have time to sort through this. You'll need to be methodical in order to deal with the abundance of guests, though. Start by double checking your response cards. If the total still adds up to the same number, start by contacting anyone who said they were bringing a plus-one. You can reach out under the guise of learning their name for the seating chart (you'll need to do this either way), and may learn that a handful of attendees have decided not to bring a guest after all. In the event that everyone is still coming with a date, you'll need to start thinking creatively. Just remember, it would be poor etiquette to disinvite anyone from your wedding, including guests who RSVP'd with unexpected plus-ones.

 

See if your venue can accommodate the extra guests.

Before reaching out to any other vendors about the head count, find out if your venue can accommodate additional guests. They may have the space add one or two more tables, or might suggest adding additional chairs to each table. 

 

Use your vendors' expertise to problem solve.

If you're venue isn't large enough for the additional attendees, it's time to bring in the experts. You might need to rent a tent to accommodate the guests if there's a drastic difference, or see if your venue has another space you could use for the reception or overflow seating.

 

If you're having a budget issue, think about where you can save.

Your venue is happy to seat the additional guests, but you're still struggling with the budget to accommodate them. What should you do? The food and alcohol is usually the easiest and fastest place to make significant cuts. Have a candid conversation with your catering manager and see what you can do to slim down the budget while still increasing the guest list. It may mean selecting wines that are in a more affordable price range, serving well liquor over top-shelf, or cutting a few of the add-ons like late-night snacks or the dessert station. You could also take the hors d'oeuvres count down a notch or get rid of the Champagne toast.

 

Adjust the timing.

If you do all that and you're still struggling to accommodate the large guest count, you could discuss the idea of ending the reception half an hour earlier than planned. While this could save you money on the venue and staffing costs, you need to make sure you don't lose out in other places. If you booked your photographer, band, or DJ for a certain number of hours, you likely still have to pay for the full time.