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Truth: "One of the most difficult and stressful parts of wedding planning is the seating chart," says Sarah Glick, wedding planner at Brilliant Event Planning. So when a wedding guest cancels, it can throw that chart and so much more out of whack.
"When a guest cancels, it leaves an empty seat, and all of that hard work gets shuffled around," says Glick. "This, combined with the fact that the couple is typically bummed that their friend or relative isn't going to make it to their wedding, means a mix of emotions and stress."
Almost all brides find themselves dealing with these last-minute changes of events. "Nearly every wedding has at least one guest who cancels last-minute, so the first thing to know is that it's a pretty normal occurrence," says Glick.
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Your next step is to have your caterer pull the place setting or settings for the missing guests and rearrange your seats accordingly, Glick says. "Most weddings have a mix of small tables, with seating for six or so, and large tables, with seating for up to 12 people," she says. "So it's not abnormal to have a smaller table."
Unfortunately, you'll likely lose the cost of the guests missing in action, no matter what. "You are typically locked into the final head count you give the caterer the week of your wedding," Glick says. "The hard costs will have already been paid for." But the good news is that "sometimes, you can have the meals for the missing guests count toward the vendor meal costs — since vendor meals are sometimes cooked up from food that was already on hand or leftover."
If you really want to fill the seat, consider telling your close family members or friends she can invite someone. But be aware those seats might not be filled on such short notice, so enjoy your wedding regardless of who comes.