The Deets on What Percentage of Wedding Guests RSVP "Yes" (and Why)

Plus, ways to increase guest attendance before you brush off the B list.
cathryn haight the knot
Cathryn Haight
  • Cathryn is an editor at The Knot, where she focuses on all things planning—from inspiration and design, to traditions, to invitations.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Cathryn spent years as a food editor
  • Cathryn holds a bachelor's degree from Trinity College and a certificate in publishing from Columbia University
Updated Feb 27, 2024

Okay, so we're about to reveal what percentage of wedding guests RSVP "yes" to your celebration. But first, a friendly reminder: Just because someone says "no" to attending your nuptials doesn't mean they don't care about you or that they think your wedding will be a bust. The wedding planning era is a magical (but overwhelming) period of life for you and your partner, so it's only natural that emotions could be running higher as you run around to visit vendors and venues. As you wait with bated breath for those enthusiastic affirmations to roll in, just remember not to take it personally if there are some "regretfully declines" in the mix. That said, here's how many attendees you can expect.

In this article:

What Percentage of Wedding Guests RSVP "Yes?"

Depending on when your wedding is, its location and other guest-influencing factors, what percentage of guests will say they'll attend a wedding varies widely, with some studies drilling down that 83% are likely to confirm their attendance, while others say it could dip to 60% and go as high as 85%. To get to the bottom of the debate, we had The Knot Senior Editor (and former wedding pro) Hannah Nowack weigh in: She said the sweet spot of guest attendance falls around 80% "yes" at the RSVP stage. (What percentage of RSVPs show up is a whole different ball game, expect a small handful to back out last minute due to unforeseen circumstances). Keep in mind: Even if you do anticipate a few answers not being a yes, your budget and venue should be able to accommodate your full list of invitees to avoid a guest-list nightmare.

What Percent of Wedding Guests Decline?

"How many invited guests will decline a wedding invitation? A good rule of thumb that many wedding professionals agree on is 20%," says Nowack. "When I've attended weddings, I've seen this to be true. If a group of eight to 10 of my friends are invited to a wedding, typically a couple of them have to pass. While this number will vary based on the specific details of a wedding (time of year, travel distance, etc.), start at 20% and adjust your estimate up or down from there."

As aforementioned by Nowack, how many guests decline your wedding invitations depends on numerous factors, but your wedding planner is a welcome resource here and can help anticipate early on how many people will pass up the invitation based on the logistics of your wedding—and when and if you'll have to assemble a B list of guests. The Knot Guest List Tool will be your best friend in the meantime to track every answer.

Factors That Influence How Many Guests RSVP "Yes"

So many factors influence your final headcount—and they're different for each invitee. Here are a few common ones to take note of, whether you're asking your loved ones to RSVP by mail or online:

Wedding Location

Flights, hotels and taking time off work can be deterrents for some out-of-town, out-of-state or out-of-country guests. It's smart to anticipate some of your more far-flung invitees to decline on account of the more-intense commitment and complicated logistics.

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Cost of Attendance

The cost of coming to a wedding is top of mind for couples these days and sometimes it just might not fit into someone's budget. According to the 2023 The Knot Guest Study, the average cost for a guest to attend a wedding is about $580.* And little over half of guests reported feeling impacted by the economy, too, with that effect playing into if they feel comfortable attending nuptials or not.

No Children at Wedding/Lack of Childcare

If you're having an adults-only wedding, some folks might choose not to attend without their children, whether it's due to personal preference, logistics or lack of childcare.

Scheduling Conflict

If you're set to wed in the late spring or during prime wedding season, you'll likely be competing for your guests' time with graduations, proms and other weddings. Likewise, if you're planning on saying "I do" on a long weekend or near a holiday, guests could have other plans on the books.

Partial RSVPs

A bulk of declining RSVPs might come from certain invited groups (invitations addressed to multiple people) that only choose to use a portion of their allotted spots. For example, your friend broke up with his longtime boyfriend and is now flying solo. Or your sister didn't use her given plus-one seat. Or your friends with kids decided to make it a parents-only weekend and declined the two spots you set aside for their little ones.

Distant Relationship

Last year, guests were 10% more likely to consider how close they feel to a couple before agreeing to attend their nuptials than in 2022. If you've always dreamed of a blowout bash, you might be inviting some acquaintances and coworkers to join in the fun, but a few of these folks might choose to forgo their spots and instead prioritize attending weddings or other events honoring people they have a closer relationship with.

Accessibility Issues

Some invitees might need special accommodations to attend your wedding (and might decline your summons in case your celebration isn't friendly to folks with disabilities or other special circumstances). Environmental triggers, venue accessibility and other factors should be taken into account during your planning process to ensure every invited guest will be comfortable—and you can deliver them some reassurance that their needs will be met before the save-the-date hits their mailbox. You can also add some online RSVP questions around this topic to give them space to tell you what they need, if it's something less obvious to the eye.

How to Increase Wedding Invite Acceptance

You want as many of your A-list invitees to throw back champagne and toss confetti alongside you as possible. Below, we're outlining some tips on how to lower the percentage of wedding guests that decline.

Send Save-the-Dates

Some folks say that save-the-dates are optional, but they're an integral tactic in making sure your guests know well in advance to mark their calendars for your wedding. Be sure to follow save-the-date etiquette and also to use them wisely—they're a great spot to preview your wedding website.

Send Invites Early

There's a sweet spot when it comes to when to send wedding invitations, but if you want to get the best chance of guests not saying "I do" to another wedding or event on your special day, send them out eight weeks in advance at the top of the mailing window. (Fun Fact: 60% of guests love receiving invitations by snail mail over digital,* so find a design you love on The Knot Invitations and get stamping.)

Let Invitees Know of Chances to Save $$$

Booking a discounted room block? Make sure guests have all of the pertinent info to take advantage. Providing Uber codes or other complimentary transportation on the day or throughout the wedding weekend? Tell them up front! Ensuring your potential guests know where they can cut costs and where they won't have to worry about additional spending can help boost attendance.

Make a Registry With Range

Some guests might feel deterred about attending your nuptials if they can't afford to splurge on a big-ticket registry item. Even though their presence is enough of a present to you, make sure you select gifts at a range of price points on your The Knot Registry so any guest who'd like to bring a gift is able to do so within their means.

*The Knot 2023 Guest Study surveyed 1,000 US adults ages 18-54 who attended at least one wedding in 2023.

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