So Who’s Coming to the Goat Gala?

Let’s talk guests. Our venue has a 150 person minimum for weekends in the summer, so that is the total number we are shooting for. We decided early on that we’d try to split that amount evenly between our two sides, and we’d account for potential nos to get us right around the minimum. So we budgeted for 150, but we have a backup fund that will cover us in case every person decides to attend (which will never happen—but it’s a good way to save some extra cash for the honeymoon).

Quite frankly our guest list seems to be continually growing the closer we get to sending out our invites (granted, we can’t compete with Miss Barn’s list—but we’re getting up there). At last count we were at 191! We both have somewhat large families, and we still wanted to be able to invite our friends, so with that in mind we made some initial decisions with regard to guests:

1) We chose not to invite children (for the most part)—and really this had to do with cutting costs. We don’t have any small children in our immediate families, and we figured friends can get a babysitter. (No offense to all our friends with kids—we love you guys and we love your kids!) I think we ended up with one child and one 16-year-old on our list (and they are family). My only regret is that we won’t have any adorable ring bearers or flower girls…


Image via Etsy Posh Peanut Kids (BTW, if I ever have a daughter I’m totally buying this!)

…or, Billie’s new obsession, the ring bear (yeah, we’re not having that either).


Image via, Show: How I met Your Mother—and don’t even get me started on the ending of this show!

2) We extended plus-ones to people in relationships and the wedding party. We did not extend plus-ones to cousins or people attending as family units (sorry, cousins!). Really since most of our friends at this point are married/in relationships this didn’t help us that much, but it’s the general rule we followed.

3) We invited a mix of friends from all the different paths of our lives—home, work, college, childhood, and so on.

image via Giphy, Source: WWW.HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

GIF via Giphy

4) We don’t have a B list…everyone’s being included the first time out.

Our plan to split the list evenly pretty much went out the window with our first guest-list draft. Ultimately we each made a best case scenario list (everyone we wanted to include), which we then vetted with all of our parents/step-parents to make sure we weren’t accidentally leaving someone out. Then we chopped until we were in the vicinity. I think our final breakdown was more like 60% my side 40% his side—close enough to even when all was said and done.

Let’s play with the numbers (cuz I’m a dork and I love this stuff):
According to Nina Callaway on we should expect about 85% of our list, which would be 163 people. She also has a formula for absolute maximums: (# of out of town guests * 65%) + (# of local guests * 90%) = total # estimated to attend. So we have (120 * 65%) + (71 * 90%) = 142.

And here is Patti from Smooth Weddings‘s formula: # of guests x .66 x 1.15 = Total Estimate, where .66 is the average RSVP rate and 1.15 is the unexpected guest buffer. So using this formula our total would be 145 guests.

According to A Practical Wedding for 150+ invitations you should expect 65–75% attendance. While 65% for us would be 125 guests, 75% would be 144.

According to my mother—who has no formula but knows a good chunk of our guests—we should anticipate about 170 people.

My best guest is—of our 191 invites—we expect 28 to say no (based on knowing them personally), which brings us to 163. We expect a few unanticipated nos since it’s a summer wedding that is not local to a lot of people, so we’re thinking 155–160.

We’ll just have to wait and see once the RSVPs start officially rolling in! Ooh, ooh and stay tuned for the Goat invitation reveal later this week!


How did you calculate estimated guest count? Did you find yourself experiencing the dreaded guest-list creep?


Mrs. Goat

Scranton, PA
Wedding Date:
July 2014
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Classifieds: May 27, 2014
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  1. msgoat Bee
    Mrs. Goat 18 posts, Newbee @ 7:13 am

    @barn – ooo I can’t wait to see them!

    @hen – thanks for the heads up! I will definitely be calling them later. Should I be worried that our official RSVP deadline is in 4 days and we still have about 100 people unaccounted for?!?!? Haha good thing I built in a 3 week buffer to hunt people down…

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