7 Tips for Getting Wedding Guests to RSVP

Simple Tricks to Get More Guests to RSVP on Time

Wedding invitations on polka dot background
Walter B. McKenzie/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Getting wedding guests to RSVP on time, and tracking them down when they don't, can be an incredibly frustrating process. Even when couples follow response card etiquette in wording, they 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 favors just in case they all decide to come.

Follow these simple tricks to increase your response rate.

Getting Wedding Guests to RSVP on Time

  1. Send your wedding invitations on 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.
  2. What does RSVP mean?
    Some guests don't know what RSVP means. So instead of writing, "RSVP by [date]" instead say, "The favour of a reply is requested by [date]" or "Please respond by [date]."
  3. For a destination wedding
    The rules are slightly different for destination wedding RSVPs. Send a Save-the-Date about 9 months earlier, allowing people to start clearing vacation 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.​
  1. Make the RSVP date prominent
    Some guests somehow believe they only need to reply if they're going to attend, or they don't realize that the reply date is serious. I've gotten invitations where the reply-by date is tiny and in the corner. So make that date prominent on the response card. For a formal invitation, it should read, "The favor of a reply is requested by [date]." For an informal invitation, you can say, "Please reply by [date]" or "Kindly respond by [date] or even, "RSVP by [date]."​
  1. Provide alternate ways to RSVP
    Some etiquette queens say that weddings are too important to use online RSVPs, but I think it's the 21st Century. If it allows more people the ability to respond, so be it. You can use a wedding website, an email address, or even a telephone number for an informal wedding. Of course, you won't have the extreme 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. I strongly suggest that you offer guests an off-line option just in case some don't have regular internet 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 jdsmith@gmail.com or at our wedding website www.jackandduncanwedding.com." 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.com or to the bride's mother at 555-3456. Kindly respond by May 14th."​​
  2. Make your reply cards interesting
    Using a funny rsvp card or a beautifully decorated one can help it stand out in your wedding invitation. 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. Make sure you follow response card wording etiquette.
  1. Mention your RSVP cards!
    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 "of course" you'll know they'll be there. So just mentioning it can help get you those responses. After all, sometimes even very close friends have conflicts and won't be there. Don't count your chickens..... er guests until they've RSVPed!

In the end, you probably won't have all of your wedding guests respond on time. But hopefully, using these tips will increase the percentage so you'll have less work tracking down the dawdlers.