Ask any couple planning a wedding or married for ages what their biggest bugbear is/was most will say without hesitation, getting people to RSVP to the wedding invite!
Getting wedding guests to RSVP on time, and tracking them down when they don’t, can be an incredibly frustrating process. Couples often find that a third of their invitees haven’t replied to their invitation. This isn’t just an inconvenience, it can be costly if you have to change catering numbers at the last minute, or if you have to order extra favours just in case they all decide to come.
In this blog, I am focussing on tips that will help increase your response rate.
Give them Time
Etiquette says that invitations should be sent eight weeks before the wedding. That gives four to five weeks to respond, so you can make your RSVP date three to four weeks before the wedding. The timing is crucial—if you give guests more time than that, it’s likely the invitation will get put aside in the “things to deal with later” pile. If it doesn’t seem urgent that they RSVP, they won’t. But less time than that won’t give you time to track down the delinquent guests, or time to give a final number to your caterer by their deadline.
The advice is slightly different for a destination wedding. Send a save-the-date about nine months earlier, allowing people to start clearing holiday time from work and looking for travel deals. Send your wedding invitations about four and a half months before your destination wedding, and ask for a response two months before the wedding. That allows guests to look for travel deals during the window that experts say is best—two to four months before a trip. If you’re paying for guests’ hotel and/or airfare, you’ll need to send out a destination wedding save-the-date so you can get their travel information.
S-P-E-L-L it out
Believe it or not, some guests may not know what RSVP means and they may not know what is required when they read “RSVP by May 6.” Instead, you could use one of these sentences:
“The favour of a reply is requested by May 6”
“Please respond by May 6.”
Make the RSVP DATE the most Prominent
Some guests believe they only need to reply if they’re going to attend, or they don’t realise that the reply date is serious. Make the reply date really stand out on your invitation and response card (if using).
Give lots of Options
Some etiquette experts say that weddings are too important to use online RSVPs, but it’s now the 21st century. If it allows more people the ability to respond, so be it. You could use a wedding website like Getting Married, an email address, or even a telephone number for texts and audio messages for an informal wedding. Of course, you won’t have the joy of receiving the RSVPs in the mail (and really it can be one of the most fun parts of wedding planning). But, you might get just as loving notes by emails or online forms.
Offer guests an off-line option just in case some don’t have regular online access. If you can afford it, send response cards along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and at the bottom write something like.
“You may also RSVP by email to mmouse@gmail. com or at our wedding website www.jackandduncanwedding.co. uk.”
If you prefer to save money and paper, you can instead write at the bottom of your invitations.
“RSVP at our wedding website www.JaneandJohnwedding.co. uk or to the bride’s mother at 0123456789. Kindly respond by May 14th.”
As the RSVPs hopefully start to roll in, make sure they are captured in one place so that you know both who has and who has not RSVPed, as well what the responses are.
If you are sending paper RSVP cards in your invitations, number each one lightly on the back in pencil. Mark down what number card goes with what guest or household on your spreadsheet/RSVP list. You’d be amazed at the number of cards that are returned without a name on them, and this will make things so much easier to track!
Your guests are interesting, fun people—but this means they are busy too. Although you are thinking about your wedding day and night, they are not, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many of your guests will need a gentle reminder that the RSVP deadline is coming up. Email is a great way to reach out to them.
There’s no shame in casually asking guests if they got the invitation. You can even say, “I hope you’re coming. We can’t wait to get your RSVP card back”. Sometimes close friends weirdly think that they don’t have to reply because you’ll know they’ll be there. Just mentioning it can help get you those responses. Sometimes even very close friends have conflicts and won’t be there. Don’t count your guests until they’ve RSVP’d.
Divide and Conquer
Don’t feel like you and your partner have to do all the heavy lifting. Ask your bridal party to help with some of the gentle follow up. You shoud definitely ask your parents to help chase up extended family members or people that they have invited.
Don’t wait until three days before your catering numbers are due to start calling everyone in a panic. Add some calendar invites to remind yourself when to send the first gentle reminder and when to start picking up the phone and dialling. Another sanity-saver is to build in some buffer for the unexpected yay or nay. Expect one or two guests to drop out at the last minute and one or two others to call at last minute and ask whether they can still come. If you are mentally and logistically prepared for this to happen, it will be less stressful when it does!
If in doubt – be Funny
Maybe if your guests are eager to show you how funny they are in response, it might motivate them to send it in. But don’t make it too elaborate or confusing—being intimidating rarely elicits the right response.
I’ve seen cool RSVP cards that have asked for a dance song choice for example that can be fun (and makes sure the dance floor stays busy).
This also made me laugh…
In the end, you probably still won’t have all of your wedding guests RSVP on time. But hopefully, using these tips will increase the percentage so you’ll have less work tracking down the dawdlers.
JB Moments Photography is not paid for any endorsements or affiliated to any of the companies/services suggested. She has just seen them work in real life. All views are her own.