Once you send out your invitations, the entire wedding planning process kicks into high gear. You’ll need to provide last-minute details to your wedding vendors, and your final headcount is a major one. Without it, you won’t be able to complete some of the most important final planning tasks. But what exactly is a final headcount for a wedding, and why is it so essential? Here’s everything you need to know about this crucial number.

What is a final headcount?

The final headcount refers to the final number of guests that will be attending your wedding day. This number will affect many aspects of your event, from the seating chart to the amount of food your caterer will need to order. We know, you created your guest list long ago, but until now, you’ve likely been working with an estimated number of wedding guests. Shortly before your wedding, you’ll need to come up with this final guest count. A final headcount may also include each guest’s meal selection if you asked your crew to order in advance.

How do I calculate the final headcount?

Once you’ve received all of your RSVP cards or online RSVPs from your wedding website (including any stragglers!), you’ll be able to calculate your final headcount. We recommend using an online wedding guest list tool to help you oversee your list from the very beginning of your planning process. (You can even use it to record your guests’ food preferences and allergies, then share the results with your vendors!) Even if you don’t choose to use the app, you’ll definitely want to have a spreadsheet on hand to check off who is and isn’t attending. Make sure you’re fully aware of who’s attending—including plus-ones and children. You may have to have some tricky conversations with wedding guests if they included additional people on their RSVPs who are not actually invited to the event.

When should the final headcount be ready?

Wedding invitations are typically sent out six to eight weeks before the big day, and RSVPs should be due two to four weeks before the wedding. If it’s nearing your RSVP deadline and you haven’t heard from certain stragglers, don’t be shy about reaching out and calling them directly—their RSVP card may have gotten lost in the mail! Within a few days of your RSVP deadline, you should have your final headcount ready to provide to your wedding vendors.

Do I include my wedding vendors in the final headcount?

You should include your vendors in the guest count for the caterer. Whether or not it’s included in your contract with them, it’s proper wedding etiquette to feed them during meal time. (They’ve been working so hard during the wedding; you don’t want them to be hungry for the final part of it!)

Should I add a few extra people to my final headcount in case people show up without RSVPing?

It happens more often than you’d think—people who never RSVP’d (or even sent their regrets) showing up on your wedding day. Rather than scramble to accommodate these folks, many couples will pad their final headcount to ensure there are enough meals for everyone. And some caterers already have this covered: It’s also a good idea to ask your caterer how many extra plates they will prepare. Some will throw in a few “just in case” meals—it’s good to know beforehand how many to expect!


Source: The Knot