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How to accurately estimate guest count for your event and plan accordingly


The guest count is arguably one of the most crucial pieces of information you need when planning any event. Why? Because the number of guests who attend your event will determine everything from the amount of food you order to the number of staff members you hire. Simply put, getting the guest count wrong can lead to disaster on event day. So use these strategies to make an accurate estimate and ensure your next event goes off without a hitch.



  1. Plan ahead and send save the dates. Generally speaking, the more time you give guests to make arrangements, the more likely they will be able to attend your event. So sending save the dates is a great way to let everyone on your guest list know the vague details of your event before you’re ready to send a formal invite. A save the date also gives you a chance to get a rough guest count ahead of time.

  2. Consider the time of year. Are you throwing an event over the holidays, graduation season, or spring break? If your event falls during a busy time of year, the percentage of guests who can attend can drop significantly. If possible, try and avoid these busy times. If these busy times can’t be avoided, expect the guest count to be lower than usual and plan accordingly.

  3. Think about the weather. No matter where you live, weather can majorly impact whether guests show up to an event or not. So keep an eye on the forecast. Even if your event is inside, some people may hesitate to venture out in heavy rain, snow, wind, etc. Even though you can’t completely plan around mother nature, giving your event staff, caterer, and mobile bar service a few days notice when weather issues are expected can save everyone the time and expense of showing up to an empty event space.

  4. Apply the 80% rule. In a perfect world, all of your guests would RSVP and show up to your event. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case. In general, many industry professionals default to the 80% rule of thumb — excluding major holidays and weather delays, you can typically count on 80% of your guest list to show up.

  5. Give guests an RSVP cut-off date. Most people understand that pulling off a put-together event takes time. So include an RSVP by date on your invitation. This will give everyone a last call to let you know they will attend.



While it’s nearly impossible to get an exact estimate of your guest count, with pre-planning, foresight, and a little communication, you can get close. Feeling overwhelmed by all the logistics of planning and staffing your event? Let our team of professionals at Avant-Garde Event Services take the lead.