How to handle guest count changes

Last minute wedding guest count changes can be hard to predict. For instance, we don’t often have snow in Austin, but what happens when your out-of-town guests get snowed in? Which wedding day planning details are affected and how do you troubleshoot these guest count changes?

Travel plans

There are several things to consider if you’ve made travel arrangements for a guest who is subsequently unable to attend. For example, airline tickets, car rentals or pre-arranged transportation, and hotel rooms.

Cancelling airline tickets

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has a 24-hour no-charge cancellation rule. However, they also stipulate the purchase must be at least a week in advance of the departure date to qualify.

According to CBS news, “The most generous airline, as far as cancellation policies go, is Southwest. Southwest has neither fees for cancellation nor change fees. If you have to make any changes, you will get full credit for the price that you paid for your ticket. If you decide to change to a more expensive flight, simply pay the difference in fares.”

But what if you need to cancel airline tickets outside the 24-hour window? Check your airline carrier’s policies online to see if your situation falls into a loophole allowing you to avoid additional fees. If you are unable to find anything relating to your situation, call your airline and speak to a customer service representative. They may be able to find a solution for you.

Cancelling car rentals and pre-arranged transportation

You may be responsible for arranging transportation for guests while they’re in town. There is generally a hard-fast rule about not cancelling within 24-hours of the scheduled pick-up time. Become familiar with the cancellation policies to ensure there are no extra costs or fees when making transportation arrangements.

Cancelling hotel rooms

There are a few options when it comes to cancelling hotel room reservations. First, call the hotel to see if they can accommodate your cancellation without a fee. Generally, they can help if you cancel more than 24-hours before check in time. There are also websites like Roomer, that will buy and sell your previously booked hotel room if you’re in a pinch!

Wedding detail changes

Last minute guest count changes can trickle down and affect your actual wedding plans. The first step is to know who can help you make the changes.

Catering changes

The caterer is one of the vendors most affected by guest count changes. Because of this, read your catering contract to learn the policies regarding changes. Most caterers need to place orders well in advance of the wedding. Therefore you will likely need to notify the caterer at least a week prior to the event for any guest count changes.

But what if it’s too late, what do you do with the leftovers? Your caterer or your event planner may be able to help you donate the leftovers.

Floral arrangements

With numerous guest count changes, you might end up with an extra table arrangement or two. Your florist, like your caterer, will have ordered your flowers well ahead of time. While you’re likely obligated to use all the flowers that were ordered, you can reallocate them! Your florist can use the extra blooms in the bridal bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, other guest table arrangements, etc. Whether it means making your other designs more lush, or simply finding another place to showcase your florist’s designs, you can never have too many flowers!

Don’t stress, take action.

Planning a wedding is stressful enough. Don’t get overly stressed if your guest count changes at the last minute. Instead, be prepared. Know your vendors’ policies and communicate your needs. They really do want to help you have the best wedding possible.

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Vendor dream team and featured image credits:

Photographer - K Ruiz Photography
Florist - Flor Amor
Venue - Trinity Hall
Planner - Elsie Event Co
Cake - 2Tarts Bakery
Rentals - Whim Hospitality
Calligraphy - Bailey Rose Design
Dog wrangler - Wedding Pet Attendant