Taking Control of Your RSVP Timeline
Couples may send a digital RSVP link.

Your friends or loved ones request your attendance on their special day. As you scan the invitation, one part leaps out: The RSVP! As a wedding planner, this is one of my pet peeves, so today I'd like to address the importance of the RSVP.

When you open a wedding invitation, it is important to read all the information: in addition to the details of the wedding, you need to pay close attention to the RSVP section. Usually, this is the section you will need to respond to in order to let the couple know if you're planning to attend the wedding. It sometimes may include additional information, such as meal options and the name of your plus-one.

I've seen too often the frustrations couples face when trying to get family and friends to confirm or decline their attendance. This is what often happens — the couple gets a flurry of responses right after the invitations have been sent out, then a few additional responses will trickle in for the next few weeks. Then there are a few replies that arrive close to the RSVP deadline. But then there are those invitees who choose never to respond, giving you the extra work of going after them for a response.

Do give guests sufficient time to respond to an RSVP via response card, mail, an e-mail address or on your wedding website.

Here is everything you need to know about save the dates, RSVPs and wedding invitations.

What does RSVP mean?

The RSVP (répondez s'il vous plaît), which translates from French as "please respond", is for guests to confirm their attendance at the wedding. It generally details a deadline and instructions on how to respond, which could be by returning the card with the response via correspondence or via e-mail, website, text or phone call.

Why it's important to RSVP

Responding to an invitation is an absolute must, whether you intend to attend or not. The reason is that there's a cost attached to every wedding guest. The price-per-guest will always factor into the overall budget. Guests play a big role in the couple's ability to be efficient in their wedding planning, so it is crucial for them to confirm with the vendors the number of guests, dietary requirements and the floor plan.

With that in mind, letting the couple know whether you will be attending is plain good manners. If you are unable to attend, for whatever reason, they may be able to invite someone from their "maybe" list. On the other hand, if you're planning to be a part of their special day, you need to let them know as soon as you can.

What should be included on the RSVP card?

• Names of invitees

• Envelope to return response (in case needed)

• E-mail address or website to respond

• Option to accept or decline

• Dietary requirements

• Deadline to respond

RSVP wording etiquette

Responding to invitations promptly is polite. Most of the time, RSVP cards will include a line that tells you when you need to respond by. For instance, it may say "Please RSVP by May 31." The deadline the couple set does not mean that you can't respond sooner. If you already know whether you can attend or not, go ahead and let the couple know.

How do online RSVPs work?

An online RSVP may be sent via an e-mail or even shared by text. In many cases, a couple will expect guests to respond on their wedding website where you can also find helpful information like the registry, the venue's address, or hotel blocks. Follow the prompts to submit your response — and save the link to refer to later just in case.

How many weeks should you give people to RSVP?

Assuming you've sent your invitation out within the recommended time (at least six to eight weeks before your wedding), allow guests four or five weeks to RSVP. This is plenty of time for people to figure out if they are able to attend the wedding, as well as to figure out any necessary travel arrangements. As a general rule of thumb, you want to make your RSVP date at least two to three weeks before your wedding date. This should allow enough time for you to get a final head count to the vendors and to finalise your seating chart if you have one. Some couples prefer a little extra time, requesting RSVPs three to six weeks before the wedding.

Is a grace period required before following up for an RSVP?

No! Your guests had weeks to get back to you. Skip the grace period and start trying to get in touch with them the day after the deadline passes.

What should you say to people who didn't RSVP?

Ask them if they received the invitation and that you hope they're planning on attending. Most likely, they'll apologise for their tardiness, then quickly give you an answer.

Tip to help the process

Send a save the date card. The save the date card is a notice to save that date for the wedding. Its purpose is more about telling people not to make any plans on that date because it's your wedding! It's all about the date and not much about the details of the wedding, because sometimes those details are yet to be settled.

Figure out what your vendors need

The reason couples need to be on top of their wedding RSVP timeline is to avoid racking up costs with vendors. While you want to be sure to allow time for guests to figure out their own schedules, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to ensure you have the important info you need for your wedding vendors. Talk to each of them early and be sure to find out firm deadlines that each needs your guest count.

Some RSVP cards may detail the event options and menu choices..
An RSVP card requesting guests to respond via the couple's wedding website.
Shikima Hinds

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