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

posted 6 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 61
346 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

We did a holiday weekend (Veteran’s Day weekend) and had about 30% declines. However, we invited less people than you and most were imediate family and very close friends that knew about the date way in advance. Our actual attendance was 63 people and our reception space was meant for up to 150. We actually just had smaller tables and it filled up the room nicely! 

I think 60 is a great number…it was lively but still was intimate enough where we could really enjoy the company of all our guests. I think you will be very happy with your guest count! Enjoy your day with those who attend…I am sure it will be wonderful. 

Post # 62
233 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2015

Hi!  I’m in the process of deciding on the guest list as well and trying to figure out the decline rate so this information is so helpful.  We are having our wedding over a holiday weekend – MLK weekend – but I don’t think many use this weekend to plan family gatherings, typically.  However, I am anticipating a larger decline rate as half the guests will need to travel out of state and it is a Sunday wedding in January.  I think we will invite about 200 guests – and anticipate anywhere from 25-50% decline rate as well!  

Did you send out STDs?  We are going to be sending them out at the 9 month mark.  And we will also send out our invitations 3 months in advance.  We will have a website up as well. 

Post # 63
12654 posts
Honey Beekeeper

TBH, I am not convinced that Save the Dates net as  much in the way of increased overall acceptances as people think. Your nearest and dearest will obviously have the date written down in stone no matter what

As I said on a recent thread, if there’s a STD, everyone else will file it away but they won’t more seriously start thinking about whether they can attend until they receive the invitation.  I know my H has no idea what his work commitments, some of which can involve travel, are much more than six weeks ahead. If a legitimate conflict  arises, the STD may not matter unless it’s someone extremely close.

That said, we attend almost every wedding if at all possible.   Knowing the date ahead of time is a handy convenience, especially for out of town affairs, but if it’s someone I’m close enough to to be invited, I’d change less important plans anyway.  

Post # 64
415 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

We were thinking of having our wedding Memorial Day weekend of 2015, but have been told repeatedly that that weekend in particular is the kiss of death to your attendance. Can’t say I blame people—travel is an absolute nightmare and hotels are super expensive.

Post # 65
11165 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

emilythehutt:  Having attended a wedding over Memorial Day Weekend I can say honestly that I am not surprised. I know that often people think that a holiday weekend wedding is easier but I have learned that it was far more expensive and difficult.It was probably the most difficult and frustrating wedding we have attended so far. Traffic was awful and added 3+ hours to the trip, the weather was hot for an outdoor venue, food/gas/hotel costs were increased because of the holiday weekend and we were unable to actually do anything because the wedding was right in the middle so the holiday was basically spent driving to and from the wedding.

I am really sorry that so many declined. Is there any chance of changing the date at this point? Otherwise perhaps you can scale back your plans for a smaller more intimate wedding based on those that are coming.


Post # 66
343 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Ouch. I’m sorry about the people declining to come to your wedding but yes its most probably because its happening during a holiday weekend. This being said, I still think its kind of rude to decline a wedding invitation because its happening on a holiday weekend. Holy macaroni there will be many more holiday weekends they can party while your wedding is a  special event. On the other hand, just think of all the money you will be saving. I’m sure your venue will still be beautiful and the guests will enjoy your wedding. Hey who knows, word will get around about how nice your wedding was and probably some people will regret their decision to not attend it. Oh well!

Post # 67
1465 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

emilythehutt:  That sounds like a real bummer 🙁

I know people say this is bad etiquette, but I don’t think it is -> are there people you wanted to invite but couldn’t (the B-list!) there is still enough time to send invites to those folks this week! Don’t know if that helps but thought I would say it. 

Post # 68
1088 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

We got married Memorial Day weekend but sent save the dates over 9 months in advance. We invited 250 and had about 210 rsvp yes. It’s a very popular wedding weekend because of the Monday off…even with our save the dates we had people decline bc they were attending other weddings they had known about first.

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 10 months ago by  .
Post # 69
579 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

emilythehutt:  We invited 120 people. We expected at most 100 people would come, although deep down I knew it would be less because we knew some of those invited were invites we were told we needed to have, so cousins my dh hadn’t seen in a few years who had never met me etc. We ended up with around 80 people, we also had ours on a long weekend but for us near Christmas. Those that did come worked it into their annual holiday. I stand to be corrected but at least 15 of our guests travelled for our wedding. All the declines were travelling guests as well. Yip it sucks a bit but trust me you will enjoy it anyway. We had a great time regardless

Post # 70
2673 posts
Sugar bee


emilythehutt:  Because you are getting married on a holiday weekend, yes that is what I would assume to be a “normal” decline rate. Not meaning to sound mean or anything by any means. A lot of people just plan family vacations and whatnot on those types of weekends.

Post # 71
1406 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Yes, it is a high number of declines.

Yes, it may have to do with the holiday weekend.

Consider it a gift in disguise. Since when is 120 a SMALL wedding?  What ridiculous standards we have set as a society if this is the case.

Ask your venue if there is a way to divide the room so you would only be using half of it.

Enjoy the fact that you will be spending a lot less money, and that those that matter will be there.

Read up on all the positive aspects of intimate weddings. It is a lot easier to spoil the guests who are there, for example.


Post # 72
13848 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I didn’t read the responses, but…

Holiday weekends are hard.  Many people already have plans and just can’t or don’t want to change them.  I personally get peeved when there are big events like this on holiday weekends because Darling Husband and I often have to miss long-standing plans to attend (we have traditional memorial day plans every year). 

Post # 73
2049 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

emilythehutt:  we got married last year on memorial day weekend and only had 1 or 2 declines.  We sent our invites out a month earlier than the 90 day mark since it was a holiday weekend though.  We had almost everyone we invited show up.

so I wouldn’t say it’s the holiday that’s the problem, but maybe your guests begin planning their holidays far in advance?

Post # 74
1406 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

As others have stated, it is not too late to get a few more poeple there with a B list of folks you did not invite. A good idea because you will have some no-shows even among those who accepted.

Talk to the venue about making the room less empty. In addition to a divider so that you are using half the rooms, smaller tables or fewer people at each table. We put 6 or 7 at tables that could have fit 8 or 10. But think how squeezed in those people would have been with 10 at a table.


Post # 75
32 posts
  • Wedding: April 2014

emilythehutt: My wedding is this Saturday. We invited about 150 people, and only 55 people RSVP’d to attend. It’s normal. Only half the people that you invite will probably not show up. I know the major obstacle with our wedding is it’s outside of the state that many of our college friends and my DH’s relatives live. We already expected many of them to decline.

I’m little worried about the size as well, but then I thought about all the people that we will need to talk to during the wedding. It actually makes me happy that we won’t spend the whole reception talking. Plus it saves us some money.

Many people might have declined because of the holiday weekend. It doesn’t matter if you sent out save the dates, because we did, and that didn’t change the outcome. Some people who had verbally that they would/would not attend, have changed their decisions. It’s actually difficult to gauge. I already expect some people may not show up and then some will be unexpected. Don’t think about the RSVP number because some people may not RSVP and still show up.

Don’t worry about it. As long as the people that you love and care about there, it’s going to be a great wedding and reception.

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