Have you ever hosted an event and received a ton of invites? You were excited that so many people said they were coming; am I right?

Let’s say this event was at your home and you were going to create an amazing menu and present some new cocktails you tried at another event. You just know everyone is going to enjoy all the hard work you’ve put in and the investment made to cater to them.

The day of your event comes. The house is looking immaculate. You’ve created a menu and displayed it so the Instagram gods would appreciate it. You’ve mastered how to make your cocktails and you are simply waiting for the crowd to arrive.

A few people start to trickle in, but you notice not everyone who RSVPd actually showed up. It’s 2 hours past your start time. They should be here by now right?

The only problem with this scenario is that you thought everyone who RSVPd would in fact show up. Did you know that roughly 10-20% of guests who RSVP don’t show up?

While not showing up for something might not seem like a big deal, it is for you and many others. Guests who RSVP and don’t show up fail to remember that each RSVP comes with a price tag.

Photo: Brooke Lark Photo: Brooke Lark
Imagine if this was scaled up to a wedding or a corporate reception.

The per person price tag for a reception could cost an event host or couple about $150 per person. Now imagine if you invited 150 people to your event. All 150 people RSVPd stating they would come.

Based on the fact already stated, you could expect a guest count of 120 to 135 people showing up. However, you as the host can’t plan for 120-135 people knowing 150 said Yes. You have to ensure you have enough food to accommodate the 150.

If 30 people decided to RSVP and not show up, the price tag for that is $4,500. I’m sure you could have spent that money elsewhere if these guests had told you in advance they could no longer attend. Even a few days before the event could still help you save.

We all know that things happen that prevents someone from attending an event even after they’ve RSVPd. Things like:

1 – Their child getting sick

2 – They are sick

3 – They’ve been in an accident

These and a few others are legitimate reasons that someone can’t come. But for those who use the excuse of:

1 – I totally forgot about the event

2 – I have a schedule conflict

3 – I’ve decided to attend another event

4 – I can’t find a babysitter

These excuses are not acceptable and come at a cost. Most event hosts and couples incur the cost of food and beverage for their guests. They also take on the cost of décor, entertainment, and other factors.

If a guest paid for their attendance to an event and at the last minute decided they could not attend, then the issue lies with them. They’ve incurred the cost not the host.

People Who RSVP And Don't Show Up Are RUDE! Photo: Reagan Freeman

Is it just about the money?

This goes beyond money. But let’s focus on the money for a second. If you had 30 people not show up, that’s 30 people worth of food that is going to waste. Couldn’t you donate the food? At the last minute? You’re focused on your event and not trying to mitigate this type of problem. Also most places you could donate the food to may not even be open and have rules on what type of donations they accept.

To answer the question, no it’s not just about the money. It’s about being considerate. It’s about having respect that the host decided to invite you in the first place.

What Should You Do If You Can’t Attend An Event?

The first thing you should do is call the host. Explain to them why you cannot attend no matter the reason. You also want to tell them as soon as you know you cannot attend. I recommend that you send them a thank you gift. A card at minimum. This shows your gratitude for the host extending an invitation to you.

There are a few preventive measures that you can also consider.

1 – Don’t assume the host(s) will understand if you can no longer attend.

2 – Don’t look at events as a competition for your attention. It’s unfair to wait and see which event will be the most exciting before you decide to attend.

3 – Place yourself in the host(s) shoes. The old saying of treat others as you would like to be treated is key here.

4 – Make sure your calendar is free and there are no other factors that could prevent you from attending.

How To Prevent People Who RSVP From Not Showing Up?

1. Send Invitations Out Early!

We know it is crazy for anyone to miss your big event or wedding. But, as you have read above, it happens. To be a successful event host, you have to give advance notice to better manage changes. Sending notices of your event with limited time for guests to react leads to problems. I recommend to also give a RSVP deadline at least 4 weeks before your event date if possible. This way if someone changes their mind, you have time to adjust your numbers.

2. Consider your Event Wording

If the first touch point to hearing about your event or wedding is via an invitation or an event website, you want to be clear and concise. You also want to attract people to choose your event over anyone else. What are the key highlights people should know about? Are there any special guests or performances? Anything that will spark attention must be highlighted to attract guests. Use Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) to your advantage.

3. Edit Your Guest List To Minimize Issues

A good way to not over invite guests is to consider who showed up to your last event. Anyone who RSVPd as Yes, but didn’t show up, should be removed. If your event has a guest count capacity, see who has been asking to attend you previous events and consider them for the next one. These are the eager people who will actually show up and support you.

In Conclusion

I know planning events are hard. The last thing you want to do is spend time and money on people who won’t respect your event. Following the steps above can help minimize who doesn’t show up. Guest lists aren’t always fun. Are you in need of more help with your upcoming event, but don’t know what to do? Leave a comment and let us know how we can help.