What to Do When Wedding Guests Don't RSVP

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It's inevitable that some guests won't RSVP or return the reply card to your wedding invitation in time. When your caterer is bugging you for a final headcount and your mom is pestering you about the seating plan, non-repliers can't be ignored. A few strategies will allow you to politely deal with stragglers without going against traditional wedding etiquette.

Provide Choices

One way to get around a lack of timely RSVPs is by providing additional ways for potential guests to get their RSVP in. For example, instead of requiring guests to send an RSVP in the mail (not everyone is up to speed on stamps and traditional customs), allow them to say yes or no by phone, email, website, or social media message. This will increase responses, especially if timed correctly, which should be six to eight weeks prior to the wedding.
Be careful with how you talk to guests, engage them with additional questions like song requests, and simply send out reminders.

Follow up on the Phone

It's always possible that a reply card got lost in the mail or life simply got busy. First, politely call the invited guest and ask for their RSVP status. Use a casual and personable approach, such as:

  • "Can you believe it's only two weeks until the wedding? We're so excited. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have your RSVP card, but we're so hoping you'll be there. Will you be able to attend?"

Often, the mother of the bride or the maid of honor makes phone calls for the couple, but the task can be assigned to whoever has the time and can handle it with grace. Even if the person doesn’t know the guest, they can put the focus on the wedding:

  • "Hi, I'm calling on behalf of [names of the happy couple]. I'm so excited that it's only two weeks until their wedding. They asked me to follow up with you and see if you'll be able to attend."

Know Your Drop-Dead RSVP Date

There's the RSVP date you print on your reply cards, and then there's the actual must-know-by date, known as the drop-dead date. Hopefully, you've allowed a bit of time between the two when it comes to wedding planning. Consider when you must give your final numbers to anyone involved, like your caterer, seating planner, personalized card-maker, and more. There are additional items that may be unique to attendees, such as seating cards, party favors, and wedding programs.

If They Still Don't Respond

Sometimes guests, especially younger guests, don't understand the importance of an RSVP. They may not yet know their work schedule or haven't figured out transportation. If you don't receive a firm answer to your first inquiry, there's nothing wrong with asking them to let you know if they are attending by the end of the week or so. Simply let them know that the date chosen is when you must give a final count to the caterer. If you still haven't heard from them by that drop-dead date, call them and say something like the following:

  • "As I haven't heard from you, I'm assuming that you're not going to be able to make it. Let's get together and share pictures when we get back from the honeymoon!"