Over half of the guest list declined, is this normal?

posted 3 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 2
339 posts
Helper bee

Not married so havent had this happen to me but I think that’s the risk you run when you have holiday weekend weddings. Although 90 days seems like an adequate amount of notice, you have to consider people who have annual family vacations at that time, others who made plans before getting your invitations and the 25% decline rate. For me personally, my family has mini reunion type bbq every memorial day, fourth of july and labor day. I now live away from them but if I didnt, honestly I could see myself skipping a wedding to attend my family function.

Post # 3
3165 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

emilythehutt:  That seems like a high number to decline :/ I just sent my invites out last week and we invited 112 people total, we have had 4 decline and 3 of those were out of state. We are expecting 10-15 tops to decline, but we also only invited family and friends, (FI has a large family)


Are the people who declined close to you? Maybe the holiday weekend was actually a bad time for them since some people already have plans? Im sorry about that, I would be bummed out too!  I hope it all works out for you!

Post # 4
387 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

emilythehutt:  Yikes. That is a high number to decline. The only declines I had were family that are 18 hours away… Our wedding is the weekend of Easter and we didn’t seem to lose any guest due to the date.

Post # 5
6964 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Did you send out STDs? It could be that people already had plans in place. I know around here camping and such are very popular on those three day weekends, and people reserve spots a year in advance in some places.

Post # 6
42101 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

emilythehutt:  I too think the fact that it is a holiday weekend may have had a larger impact than you predicted.

Post # 7
66 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2016 - Chateau

I’m not getting married on a holiday weekend but still half of my guest list has already declined before the invites have gone out, so I know how it feels. Hope it gets sorted for you!!

Post # 8
2150 posts
Buzzing bee

emilythehutt:  I think it’s due to the holiday weekend. Many people make plans for vacations months or even a year in advance so I wouldn’t be surprised if they already had plans.

Did you send save the dates? That probably would have been a good idea at the 6 month mark since you’re having your wedding on such a busy weekend. 

Post # 9
4649 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

emilythehutt:  I think it could definitely be the holiday weekend. I may be having a very small (16 people??) wedding and my aunt said just don’t do it over Mem Day. So I’m not, but it does seem a little wacky.

Post # 10
3646 posts
Sugar bee

My daughter was married last Memorial Day weekend. She sent the save-the-dates out 10 months before, with the website address on them (with hotel block information, etc.), and invitations about 3 months out. The venue co-ordinator said the industry average is 20% decline, but to expect 30%, since it’s a holiday weekend. We had 90% attend; only about 12 of 224 had to travel more than 2 hours. One couple flew in Saturday and out Monday. (The wedding was on a Sunday night, because the venue was booked Saturdays).

My 2nd daughter is getting married the Sunday of this Labor Day weekend. So far people we never thought would attend are coming, since they have the 3-day weekend to travel. The wedding is intrastate – his side has to travel 3.5 hours east and ours 1.5 hours west.  

Post # 11
357 posts
Helper bee

emilythehutt:  We are also doing it during a popular weekend but we sent out our STD during the 6 month mark because people do plan ahead of time and we feel 3 months isn’t enough.

When did you send out your STD? Also is it out of state?

Post # 12
1441 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Some people also just don’t travel at all on holiday weekends because it’s expensive and inconvenient.  I know we got a save the date for a Labor Day weekend wedding and I plan to decline – traffic is awful and they are getting married in an area that lots of people travel to for holidays.  No thanks.

Post # 13
1155 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Aww, I’m sorry about that! It’s always hard to get declines from people you were excited about seeing, but that’s quite a lot. We invited 95 to a venue that could hold 120, and we had 65 attend. Our guest list was heavy on out-of-towners, and all of our “no’s” were folks who couldn’t make the trip. So at a little over 30% decline rate, we were not quite where you are, but then again we didn’t have to contend with a holiday weekend. I think that’s the cause of your issue.

I can guarantee that the venue is not a waste and it won’t look empty! I’m sure it will be beautiful. Our place was still hoppin’ even though it was at half capacity. We spaced out our tables (and our guests at our tables) in such a way that everyone had plenty of elbow room but it did not look empty. And our dance floor space was small to begin with, so when people started to dance it felt plenty crowded. I’m sure it will all work out!

Post # 14
1869 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

did you send save the dates? usually for holiday weekends (or even just busy weekend in the summer) its a good idea to send a StD about 6 m in advance because people do plan special “vacation” weeks well ahead of time.


Either way you will still have a great wedding with the people who mean the most to you. Don’t worry about the people who can’t come and focus on those who can

Post # 15
291 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

That does seeem like a lot to decline. Did most people have to travel in? Or are most from your area? We invited 210. Almost 100 of those were out of town guests (having to travel 5+ hours) and our wedding is the day before easter, so we figured we would have a high percentage of people declining. AND we sent out our invitations kinda late….I think we are at about 160 right now….

Don’t worry about the numbers though with the venue….I’m sure it will be beautiful. Once its the day of the wedding, you will only be seeing the people that ARE there, you won’t even think about the people that ARENT there. It’ll be fine 🙂


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