Okay, others will tell you that you shouldn’t invite more than you can accommodate, and you DO need to have a backup plan in case everyone accepts, but the reality is that the chances are SO remote – you really have to go through your guest list line by line and do a realistic estimate of who you think will come. You’re the only people who can guess on something like that.
So, here’s my story. We have family in one end of the state, friends in the other end of the state (6 hours away), we live in the middle of the state, and then we picked a 4th neutral city as our wedding location. It is about a 3 – 4 hour drive for about 60% of our guest list, and then the other 40% is a lot of out of state people, anywhere from 3 hours to 30 hours drive.
So 100% of our guests are from out of town.
I invited 255. 50 of those were +1’s. I did the math 100 ways to Sunday and KEPT landing at between 140 – 160 coming. There were just certain people I KNEW weren’t coming – my great aunt who is in a nursing home halfway across the country, and she certainly wasn’t bringing a +1. But she counted in my overall guest list. That sort of thing.
We ended up at 120 accepting, so even a little lower than I planned. I was pretty correct on my guesses, I just counted a few too many people as bringing +1’s.
Here’s how it shook out:
His guests (mostly all in-state between 2 – 4 hours): 70% yes, 30% no
My guests (much more split, about 40% in state, 60% out of state): 50% yes, 50% no
I hope that helps. I DID have a crazy backup plan in case everyone accepted (doing the ceremony with people seated at the reception tables), but it is just ridiculous to build your main plan around that if you have a huge amount of people that are out of town. Only you know your guest list and their likelihood to travel. People who have a large percent of their guest lists in town really can’t relate to this situation, in my opinion, and don’t give realistic advice.
It also depends on the location – is it a destination that is easy to get to and/or somewhere people would want to vacation? If yes, your accept rate will be higher. Ours is a smaller midwest town that requires flying into a major city and then a couple hour drive, or doing a small connecting flight. So it isn’t particularly easy to get to, and it isn’t somewhere people would turn into a vacation, I know that lowered our acceptance rate. How expensive the area is can factor into it as well.
Most of our No RSVPs came right before the RSVP deadline or after it – acceptance was much higher in the beginning than later on in the RSVP process. Up until about 3 days before the RSVP deadline, I still thought we’d be coming in over the 140 number. And, people change their RSVPs as the event gets closer, so I caution you on having people RSVP too early – DO let them know the date early (a very detailed save the date), but I wouldn’t make the RSVP date more than 5 – 6 weeks in advance.