How to Get an Accurate Head Count for Catering


Figuring out how many guests are coming is one of the big headaches of planning any large event. While it’s something you may try to plan in advance, the reality is that many people’s plans change with little to no advance notice. Whether they show up or drop out at the last minute, find out how to plan your catering as accurately as possible.

Number of Invitations

You can give the caterer a general idea of the number of guests you’re expecting based on how many people are invited. For weddings, expect an average of about 15% to decline the invitation. If you’re planning a mandatory business lunch, on the other hand, there should be fewer people missing. You can give the catering company a more accurate head count as the date gets closer, but this will give them a place to start.


Make it as easy as possible for your guests to R.S.V.P. to your event. More and more people are turning to online responses, which are fast and convenient to fill out. If sending your invitation through the mail, make sure there’s a clear “reply by” date. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope to make the process as easy as possible for your guests. Also, be sure to include an area where they can include any dietary restrictions, so your caterer isn’t surprised on the day of the event.

Get in Touch

Three to four weeks before the event, start making calls to anyone who hasn’t confirmed if they’re coming. This is when your caterer will start needing more specific numbers in order to prepare for the big day. Although you can still expect a few people to change their minds at the last minute, you should have a fairly accurate picture of who will be attending.


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