Wedding RSVP Etiquette: 8 Tips Every Bride and Groom Should Know

The do's and don'ts of RSVP cards - Wedding RSVP Etiquette: 8 Tips Every Bride and Groom Should Know

If you didn't already know, RSVP is the abbreviation of the French phrase: Répondez s’il vous plaît. It translates to “Respond please”. Your RSVPs don't have to say RSVP however. You can switch it up and use Please Reply or Kindly Reply!

Gather your guest list

If you previously compiled a guest list when you mailed out your Save-the-Dates then great! It shouldn’t be hard to compile your invitation/RSVP list!

You’re going to want to number your guest list (I'll explain why later…). I recommend using Excel to gather your list. It's easy to modify and it's the file format I need your guest list in to create those beautifully printed envelopes.

You also want to make note of people’s locations. Some guests on your list may live farther than others. You want to give them ample time to plan so they can manage the trip. It also may take longer for their invitation/RSVP to arrive and take longer to arrive back to you.

Traditionally RSVPs are cards sent with your invitation suite through the post office. But these days, more and more couples are opting to send RSVPs by email or have their guests respond via their wedding website.

What to include on your RSVP card

Be sure to include your RSVP date. This should be about 2-3 weeks from the wedding but it will vary depending on your vendors needs. Vendors that might require your final head count before the wedding are your caterer, your venue, your bakery, and your florist.

Include other details like a line for the guests to write their name and check boxes or lines for guests to accept for decline your invitation.

It’s common for people to assume that they’re allowed to bring a guest to a wedding. To avoid confusion or awkwardness, explicitly detail this in the RSVP. Include a separate line that states "We have reserved ___ seats in your honor". If someone isn't allowed a plus one or your aren't inviting children to your wedding you can fill the blank in with 1 or 2. Then include a line for families to write down the number of people attending in their party.

If your caterer needs to know how many entrees to provide and you are offering different types RSVPs are a good place to include dinner options as well. Offer check boxes or lines for your meal types like steak, chicken, or vegetarian. You can also include a line that lets know they need to inform you of any food allergies or dietary restrictions.

When should RSVPs go out?

Local Weddings: 6 - 8 weeks

Destination Weddings: 3 -4 months

Pre-stamp your RSVPS

It is a courtesy to provide your guests a pre-stamped RSVP envelope. They shouldn't have to pay even a penny to respond to you. As a perk you can pick a pretty wedding stamp from USPS and use the same one on your Save-the-Dates, invitations, and RSVPs for a cohesive look.

Track your RSVPS

Not every RSVP you get back will be filled out correctly. You are bound to have a blank or illegible RSVP show up in the mail. Be prepared though- try this trick to keep your RSVP cards in order.

Remember back in "Gather your guest list" when we mentioned numbering your guest list? Well, it’s about to come in real handy…

Every invitee/family should have a designated number. If you subtly write this number on the back of the RSVP, the number can keep you from getting confused. Sometimes people unfortunately forget to fill out important detail but if you track your RSVP cards with a number system, you can easily locate who it belongs to.

What to do when guests fail to RSVP

Not only do invitees fail to fill out wedding RSVP cards correctly. Sometimes they fail to fill them out and send them, period!

Give your invitees a grace period after the RSVP reply date. It should usually be about 7 days after the requested reply dates. If anyone on your guest list fails to contact you after the grace period, you can give them a call or shoot them a message.

Be gracious. Tell them that you need to let your venue or caterers know, or that you’re trying to prepare your seating chart. Don’t come across as annoyed or frustrated. It could be that your guest sent in their RSVP and the post office lost it or hasn't delivered it yet.

At the end of the day, people can be forgetful, things get lost in the mail, or they send things out past their due dates. If you respond graciously to an RSVP that’s M.I.A, your invitee will appreciate you reaching out to them!