How to Handle Last-Minute Guest List Additions Without Losing Your Cool

Guess that RSVP deadline was just for kicks, right?

Updated 06/15/17

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

No matter how much advanced notice you give to members of your guest list, how easy you make the RSVP process, or how many times you follow up with stragglers, there’s a good chance you’ll have a few changes to your guest list in the final days before your wedding. Is it inconvenient? Yes. But it’s not a reason to panic! Keep these tips in mind to help make sure everything runs smoothly—even if you’re celebrating with more people than you’d planned for.

Like pretty much everything else in the planning process, communication is key when it comes to last-minute changes to your guest list. Make sure your parents and relatives let you know if they hear of anyone who can’t make it (or who happened to arrive with a guest) so you have as much advanced notice as possible. Ask them to help you verify what has changed, as well as the names of anyone you weren’t expecting, so you can pass the information on to your planner and caterer.

If you have a few days before your wedding takes place, set aside a little time to go over your seating assignments. Is there a table with an extra seat where you could add that cousin you weren’t planning to see? Or can you squeeze an 11th person at a 10-person table so your great aunt’s new boyfriend can sit next to her? You may need to get creative and move a few groups around, but don’t worry about getting too deep into the changes: You’ve already done the hard work of assigning tables, so this is more about giving guests somewhere to sit than it is making sure they’ll be fast friends with all of their dining companions. Don’t have time to make adjustments? Single out a few tables or groups that the new guests may be happy to join, then let your planner, coordinator, or maid of honor figure out where they should go.

Once the changes are finalized, send them to your planner. This is where those extra escort cards come in handy! Extra-neat handwriting may not be a perfect match, but at least there won’t be too much confusion at the escort card display. You and your planner should also get in touch with your caterer ASAP. They will already be prepared with a few extra meals, just in case, so let them know which tables will need the additional plates.

And of course, be sure to have an alphabetical list of all of your guests and where they will be sitting printed out and on-hand. If someone can’t find their escort card or if their table assignment has changed, your planner can quickly check the list and send your guest in the right direction.

Most importantly, don't let the unexpected addition get in your head—when it comes down to it, no one will remember that an extra person squeezed in to their right at the table. What your guests (and you) will remember? An amazing party. So, take a deep breath, let the punches roll off you, and enjoy the day.

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