At the same time vendors, many of which suffered big financial losses over the past two years, have made their guest count requirements clearer and stricter, said Leah Weinberg, a lawyer and the owner of Color Pop Events in New York.
“Pretty much every wedding vendor overhauled their contract after Covid hit,” said Ms. Weinberg, who noted that guest counts are generally agreed to when a vendor is booked, though payments are made closer to an event. “They will say you can add to the guest count, but not subtract from it.”
To avoid the awkwardness of empty tables, or to prevent hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars from going to waste when attendees drop out, more couples are now filling seats with people they know loosely, or not at all — welcome wedding crashers, if you will.
On Aug. 18, a Thursday, Heather Ecker, 39, a homemaker, and Jesse Cram, 33, a biochemist, plan to wed at a Rosecliff, a Gilded Age mansion overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Newport, R.I. Wanting an intimate event, the couple, who live in Barrington, R.I., have a guest list of around 70 people — but Ms. Ecker is worried it will be even smaller.
“I just sent my save the dates but I’ve already had a lot of verbal nopes,” she said. “I don’t want to see empty seats, and obviously I already signed the contract for the food” and beverages, she added, which will cost around $200 per person.
Their backup plan for filling seats? A roster of strangers who live in Rhode Island and are interested in attending, whom Ms. Ecker found by posting to a thread in a private Facebook group.