AOW A-Z Of Getting Married – R is for RSVP

The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be.  It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel.  Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there.  From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds.  We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.

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R is for RSVP by Zan

When I sat down to start writing this post, I realised that I didn’t actually have any idea what RSVP means. That is to say, what it stands for.  So I looked it up, it’s basically ‘please reply’ in French (répondez s’il vous plait).  I admit I was almost a little disappointed, I was really hoping for something complicated in Latin…. 

This leads me neatly onto the subject of wedding RSVPs which are the opposite.  They’re something that should be nice and simple to deal with but can become so very very complicated. It seems straightforward enough right?  You’re getting married, you send out invitations in plenty of time and ask people to let you know if they can make it by a certain date. And then… they don’t. Or they RSVP late. Or they put names on the RSVP who weren’t invited. And THEN? Not so simple.

The options for RSVP-ing these days are many. You can include an RSVP card with the invitation, make it a removable part of the invitation, provide a phone number or email address to RSVP to or even (if you’re more technologically inclined) have people RSVP via your wedsite.  You would think with that many options, it should be a doddle.  And yet there will always be that person/people who don’t reply and it can be unbelievably frustrating, especially if as for most venues you need to provide exact numbers by a certain date.  

So because I am a lover of lists, here are a few tips to get you through RSVP-madness:

  • Give as many options as possible – you may be sending out a beautiful hand-designed RSVP card with every invitation but be aware that if that’s the only RSVP option you offer, you may not get them all back. Some people are just not good at filling things out and posting them off – this is a fact. Or they do what I have done before, put it somewhere visible to remind them and then just keep forgetting (hanging my head in shame, promise!).  It’s not as pretty but an email address or phone number may elicit a more immediate response.
  • Even if you give guests the most options in the world, some people still won’t RSVP.  Some will forget, some will not realise they need to – they’ll ‘assume’ you know they’re coming because of that drunk conversation you had with them at your engagement party etc.  Or they assume if they don’t send the RSVP that you’ll take that to mean they’re not coming (don’t fall into this trap, a friend of mine had 3 extra people show up on the day who had not RSVP’d and had a last minute panic trying providing seats/meals for them!).  Or maybe for cultural reasons they don’t think they need to. For example, Asian weddings are normally huge – on the Indian subcontinent if you attend a wedding you can bet that the entire village/town is invited with all their family and anyone extra who fancies coming along. You’re not really expected to state that you’re actually attending, you just show up or not. 
  • Allow yourself plenty of time – try to avoid sending out invitations with an RSVP date too close to the date you need to provide final numbers to the venue.  Allow time to chase people up. It’s a pain granted, you’ll probably have a million and one other things to do! But it’s a rare thing to not have to chase up anyone, so if you go in expecting to then at least if you don’t, it’s a pleasant surprise.
  • Have a strategy (however vague) for when to get tough if you have someone who won’t commit to a yes or no.  I know when we send out our invitations in the New Year that we’ll be hoping that everyone will RSVP one way or the other.  But this doesn’t always happen (see above for when people don’t RSVP at all!).  When my sister got married, a number of family members who live abroad were deliberately vague. Not wanting to offend anyone, places were kept for them, meals were ordered and they were added into the seating plan. None of them turned up.  Looking back now with hindsight, it was unlikely any of them would have anyway, so our strategy has been to either ask well in advance or to not invite them. That may seem harsh and I realise it’s not for everyone. But in the long run it’s saved us a lot of hassle and has meant we can invite more of the people we love and see regularly rather than distant family who would mess us around.  Let’s face it, when you’re planning a wedding the last thing you need is more stress!
Categories: A-Z of Getting Married
8 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted December 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Everyone keeps telling me these things… My invites will also not be going out for a couple of months, Is it too naive of me to be hopeful people reply?
    Good advice though. I hope it all works out for us all :-)

  2. Roz
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    All great advice. Again I think we were lucky with this one, we had no issues with RSVPs. We sent our invites out in November (for a February wedding) and had our RSVP date before Christmas and got them all back by then. Our invites were handmade and included a postcard to RSVP with which personally I think helps nudge people along! We also asked guests what song was guaranteed to get them to boogie on the dancefloor and so many of them commented that they were keen to post off there RSVP so that we could read what they wrote!

    One thing I would say is don’t be afraid to chase people, if they are important enough to be invited to your wedding but haven’t replied speak to them. It could be a genuine case of forgetting to post the reply, it does happen and yes I have been the offending friend! xxx

  3. Posted December 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I have witnessed (in real life and online) a very strange reaction to RSVP’s and would add that you really need to keep some perspective. These are all people you know, checking they got the invite and if they can make it is a perfectly sensible and expected thing to do.

    I have seen tweets along the lines of ‘can’t believe someone is asking me what time my wedding is. Check your invite!’ well, yes, or you could just be kind and tell them again.

    Admittedly, since our own wedding we have become super quick responders. I get everything booked either way and let them know ASAP.

    People who have not been married or are a bit older have no idea the stress they are causing you. Particularly in a group of friends where you have parties/get togethers a lot because they’re not used to RSVP-ing but just turning up.

    That’s just my two cents. I think this is a very sensible post with good points and honestly believe some people have absolutely no idea they’ve done anything wrong!

  4. Posted December 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Do people really add extra names to an RSVP? I can’t get my head around that, why would someone think “Oh they haven’t put Bob’s name on the invite, I’ll add it to the RSVP and not ask” rather than “Oh, Bob’s name isn’t on the invite hey ho, no worries.” Nowt as queer as folk.

  5. Alex
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Ah, the joys of RSVPs…. We did have to chase quite a lot of people up, despite having sent out a “Save-the-date” about 5 months prior to the wedding and the invitations about 4 months beforehand. One couple in particular comes to mind: no answer from them despite asking quite a few times. So we (wrongly) assumed they weren’t coming… 1 week before our wedding they contacted us that they were coming AND were bringing their 2 kids (invitation was clearly addressed only to parents). Anyway, turned out Ok in the end :-)

  6. Becca
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    We sent out hotel accommodation with the save the dates so our guests could get cheap accommodation (£50 for the weekend for a family of four including breakfast…yes please) and its also had the added benefit of people telling us they have accommodation so we can tick them off the list as coming, before we even send the RSVP’s. I always make a massive deal of the RSVP (drawing the couple on the envelope and writing song lyrics I hope they play in a circle so the postman can only see the address) and the couple have, without fail, text to say thanks for the RSVP…our postman loved it. It’s two minutes of my time to let the bride and groom know I am grateful to be invited and it makes the brides life easier who you are supposed to love which is why you’re going in the first place. Just freaking Do IT.

  7. Posted December 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    One of my bridesmaids sent my THE BEST RSVP yesterday! It was the pictures from our invite which she had printed off our wedsite, cut out and made a card out of, even adapting part of the ‘marquee’ into a hanging banner saying ‘acceptance’ and a picture of her and her man in our campervan inside. IT. IS. AMAZING!

  8. Becci
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I got very annoyed by the RSVP’s, particularly as it was close family who were the offenders. Our invites had the RSVP card and a stamped addressed envelope….how hard can it fricking be to tick a sodding box???!!!

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