Apr 20, 2011

60. RSVP

RSVP aka Répondez S'il Vous Plaît aka Reply Please aka Please Respond

Sounds simple enough, but whether you're a guest or the host...it's way more complex than ever imagined. As guests, you sometimes forget - or all together ignore - the obligation to respond...and as a host who has provided easy ways to contact you...can't comprehend why people simply can't take 5 minutes and comply. Really, it's a vicious circle.

Wanting to appeal to both sides of the spectrum -- guests and hosts -- I am breaking this piece into two parts. The first part will cover the guest and the second part will be the host. Let's go!

I am the guest...
9 times out of 10, a guest will know by the time they receive an invitation to a wedding whether or not they are going. It's rare they truly are undecided and need more time to reflect. But let's be real here...this isn't a Facebook invitation there is no maybe option. It's simple...yes or no. 

A wedding invitation RSVP card will come with a stamp and a pre-addressed envelope so you don't have to do ANY work except for writing your name and checking off your food choice...so really, as a guest you should give the host the courtesy of responding as soon as you can. Sending the RSVP card back will not only be helpful to your host, but will make things easier on you "hey look, that's already done. Check!"

Here are some tips are proper RSVPing:
  • If you know for 100% certain you will be in attendance send your card back right away. There's no harm in being prompt...and it takes that off your to-do list.
  • It's rare these days with STDs, wedding wed sites, and social media that someone is shocked by an invitation so if you believe you will be invited, block it off on your calendar just as an FYI
  • If for someone reason (money, travel or another event booked) you cannot attend - send the card back right away. Most venues charge per head so the sooner they know you won't be in attendance, the better. *Extra advice: getting a RSVP no sometimes hurts...regardless of your relation to the person you are saying no to, I would suggest letting them know why you cannot attend. It doesn't have to be complete detail but just enough that they know you are sorry you cannot be there.
  •  If you are a serious maybe (work, need a babysitter, other wedding invite) I would lay out a time-line for yourself. A note on the fridge, a reminder on your digital calendar...whatever works for YOU to ensure you get the card back on time.

In conclusion you do not want to be the guest that...
- Is known for RSVPing via Facebook
- The hosts had to call 3 or 4 times before they got an answer
- The hosts had to get your response from another person
- Never responded or acknowledged the invite
All of this will ensure you probably won't get an invite to the next event.

I am the host...
Take a second, sit down and breathe this statement in. Not everyone will RSVP.  There, I said it. You heard it...let's make a game plan. There is no legit reason - other than pure laziness or dislike of the couple - why someone would not RSVP. And regardless of how you may try to prevent a mass amount of people from not replying, you will definitely have to contact a few. Frustrating I know, but it's something you should accept now - and not spaz over later.

But even if all goes accordingly - I can guarantee people will forget to RSVP on time - or at all...so here are a few tips to get the maximum amount of responses...
  • Provide an envelope pre-addressed with where the RSVP card is supposed to go and place a stamp on it
    • Some couples use postcards for lower postage - still make sure it's addressed and has postage
  • Don't give guests more than a month away to respond. Sure it sounds great about giving people "plenty of time" but the longer than time in between the deadline and invite received the more likely people are to think "eh, I have plenty of time to send this back."
  • If you only invite a mother and father of a family - or a guest without a date and they reply back with more than the number of people invited, do not hesitate to contact them. Be mindful this may (a) change their mind about coming or (b) be met with resentment. Stay strong - but be sure to let them know if a tactful way that only _x_ number of people are invited. The same goes if they contact you prior to responding asking if so-and-so are invited as well.
    • In order to get an exact number of attendees, you may wish to include this line “____ number attending”. 
  • If a person responds without choosing the type of food they want (really, the least of the issues) there's no harm in contacting them to confirm.
  • Do be sure to give yourself at least two weeks in between the deadline and the date that you need to turn in final numbers to the venue. This cushion will allow stragglers to get their RSVPs in as well as get you time in case you need to reach out to specific guests.

So you do everything right, but still you have some no responses...Here are the best ways to tackle contacting those who have chosen not to respond after the deadline passes.
  • At some point (4 or 5 calls later) it will become obvious that the person is a RSVP no - make sure to not go to far.
  • Make sure to have the "right" person calling the guest. For example, your parents should call your family - and your fiance (or their parents) calls their friends/family members. It would be awkward to call your fiance's Aunt Millie who you've never met.
  • It's okay to be a little pushy, after all...these people have had ample notice. Don't offend people, but don't let them feed you bullshit.
  • Start with phone calls to contact people, then move to email and lastly (ugh) Facebook. By showing the effort to have human-to-human contact it will show you want the person at your wedding.
  • It may seem tacky but if after multiple attempts if there is a "third party" you can contact - like someone's mom or dad - to see if the person is coming, what does it hurt? I had to do it - it got me an answer...I may not have liked the RSVP but I got one.

Both guests and hosts will benefit from following really the basic rules of etiquette - guests don't want to those people who are late and unreliable and hosts don't want to be harassing people for being late by a deadline of one day!

So readers...what are your RSVP horror stories? Did I miss a tip or get something wrong in your opinion? Let's hear it!


    1. This was a really GREAT article. Although my wedding is over, It was nice to see that some things I actually did and others I wish I would have! At least now I can pass this on to friends getting married soon : )

    2. Thanks!!! I really tried to present options for both sides - but really it comes down to make it easy for the guests to respond - and as a guest, respond ASAP :)