Tips and Tricks to ensure RSVPs are returned on time.

28 | 02 | 2017
by Katie Wescott

Who is coming to your wedding?

Tips and Tricks to ensure RSVPs are returned on time.


After months of planning, picking out the perfect dress, the perfect suits, and the right venue. The celebrant has been secured and the rings have been selected, the invitations have been printed and sent, everything seems to be going smoothly but now for one of the biggest hurdles that most couples face, getting guests to respond to the RSVP.

RSVP’s are key in knowing how many guests are attending the ceremony and the reception, without accurate numbers, planning the last few aspects of the wedding can become both costly and inconvenient. As many couples can attest one of the biggest costs that is incurred during a wedding is the catering bill. Many reception venues or caterers need to know numbers by a specific date for their own planning purposes, without accurate numbers there is a great risk of ordering too much food, or not enough creating costly last minute orders.

While there will always be some guests who forget to respond or don’t get back to you promptly, there are number of simple tips and tricks that you can implement to increase the chances of getting a quick response.

Invitations and RSVP artwork by Belle Loves Paper

Photography by JS Photo Media

The true meaning of RSVP

Everyone knows that when someone asks you to RSVP it means ‘let me know that you are coming’, however what does RSVP stand for? Where did it originate? RSVP originated from the French phrase, ‘Respondez, s’il vous plait,’ which translates to ‘please respond.’

If you are concerned that RSVP is not the most appropriate term for your guest’s you could enter an alternative phrase, it can be formal or informal based on your wedding themes and invitation style. Alternatives could include:


‘Your response by (enter date) would be greatly appreciated’

‘We would be grateful for your response by (enter date)’

‘Please let us know if you will be celebrating out day with us by (enter date)’

‘Will you be attending? Let us know by (enter date here)’

When should guests RSVP by?

Couples often make the mistake of placing the RSVP date in a small font in a not so obvious place. This could be for a number of reasons inclusive of the couple feeling pushy by demanding a return date. This is not the case, guests expect an RSVP date and understand why it is required, if the date is in a inconspicuous place and small it may be missed as there is no emphasis on the dates importance. Make sure that it is clear what the date is, keep it in the same font, place the date in a line of it’s own, or slightly bold the date, as the date is smaller then a full sentence it will pull focus and be sure to be seen.

Make responding easy and fun

One of the key tips that we can afford is to make it easy as possible for guests to respond. Many invitation packages come with the option on a RSVP post card, in some instances you can even get this pre printed with the guest’s name and number of guests invited; this would result in the guests having to simply tick a box to say they are attending and pop the postcard in the mailbox.

Another option for the more technologically savvy, is to include an email address for electronic RSVPs, although this is a great option it is well advised to choose one method of RSVP. It may get confusing and you may miscount or miscalculate the number of guests if they are responding via different methods.

Make responding fun, including something creative or funny on the card that will encourage a amusing response. This will encourage guests to think about the RSVP and also give you something to look forward to reading when they are returned.

When to send out Invitations and ask for RSVPs to be returned

Even though many couples are choosing to break with the traditional wedding, there are still certain points of etiquette that should be observed. It would be advisable in like with etiquette to send your invitations, inclusive of RSVP cards at least two months before your wedding date. Keep in mind that those who need to organise travel, or even organise a babysitter for the children will need plenty of notice.

The RSVP date is a little more difficult to set. It is best to speak with the venue and inquire to when they need catering numbers and dietary requirements. You will also need to take into consideration your own planning and what you have left to organise that is dependent on numbers. As a guide we recommend setting the RSVP date four weeks prior to the event.  

Create a Reminder

Unfortunately, even if you follow all the tips and tricks and do all the right things, you will still be waiting on the odd one or two stragglers to reply.

It is possible and acceptable to send put a reminder, this can be an email, a phone call or if all else fails a text message. It’s a simple task, but remember to be polite, do not push and do not be short, simply let the individual know that you are excited for your upcoming wedding and are still awaiting their response of attendance. If they cannot give you an answer straight away set them a clear deadline of when you need to know by and explain why. Sometimes guests are not aware or why you need to know numbers so strictly, especially if the guests have not attended a wedding before.

Destination weddings

Destination weddings are a different situation all together. An abundance of notice is required for destination weddings as guests will need to take time off work and will need to make travel arrangements.

It would be highly recommended to send out save the dates and RSVPs between 8 and 9 months before the wedding. Usually the RSVP will go out with the invitation, but at this point so early final details such as the ceremony start time may not be confirmed, it is perfectly ok for the invitation to go out at a later date, roughly 3 months out from the wedding. It also may be helpful to include information with the save the date including venue, hotel details and airline details especially is any special deals or group discounts are applicable.

Set your save the date for roughly 2 months before the wedding, the invitation will serve as a reminder to the guests to return their RSVP.