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The Do’s and Don’ts of Wedding RSVPs

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RSVP. Répondez s’il vous plait. You’ve kindly requested a response to your wedding invitation, but the response cards are being returned slowly. You need to give the caterer a final head count and your mom wants to confirm the seating arrangements.  What should you do?

There’s no exact science to a better return rate on wedding RSVPs, but there are a few guidelines to consider for both the wedding hosts and guests (e.g. allowing enough time for guests to return response cards) to ensure the wedding invitation process runs smoothly.

writing wedding rsvp
photo credit: Sarah Parrott via photopin cc

Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

Wedding RSVP Do…

  • …thank the bride and groom for the wedding invitation, especially if you can’t attend.
  • …respond to the wedding invitation in a timely fashion.
  • …keep both “yes” and “no” responses brief.
  • …decline a wedding invitation if you have a potential conflict. It’s better to say “no” than to inconvenience the bride and groom with a cancellation later.
  • …inform the wedding hosts immediately if you have to cancel after you’ve RSVP’d “yes.” The only acceptable reasons for cancelling include injury, illness or a death in the family.
  • …plan for unexpected guests. Guests that may have RSVP’d “no” might show or bring a plus-one when the invitation specified otherwise. Unless you want to spend time acting as a bouncer during your wedding, it may be better to plan for a few extra guests.
  • …call friends and family who haven’t responded, if time permits or you’re getting close to your RSVP deadline. Be friendly, non-confrontational and simply explain that you need the final numbers to send to the caterer and complete seating arrangements.

Wedding RSVP Don’t…

  • …ask if you can bring a date or children. If a plus-one isn’t listed on the invitation, the bride and groom chose not to include an additional guest. Don’t add another name to the response card.
  • …cancel after you’ve RSVP’d because you have a better offer unless you’re willing to jeopardize your friendship and/or exclusion from future events.
  • …change a “no” RSVP response to “yes” without contacting the bride and groom. Since you said you couldn’t attend, they may have invited another guest in your place. Don’t assume you can show up at the wedding without upsetting the wedding hosts.
  • …RSVP “yes” and then not show. No-shows are unacceptable. In addition to the wrath you’ll receive from the bride and groom, you may just be charged by the wedding hosts to cover unused dinner and drinks like this bride did in 2012.


The goal for wedding hosts and guests should be to make invitation responses as easy as possible for each other. Wedding hosts should consider providing RSVP response options like a mailed response card (envelope and stamp included) AND reply email address. Hopefully, this helps wedding guests reply in a more efficient, concise manner to make the RSVP process more seamless.

wedding rsvp
photo credit: Sarah Parrott via photopin cc
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