Wedding RSVP – your questions answered

Wedding reply or RSVP cards encourage a timely response from your guests. As well as the all important accept or decline, they can include menu choices, travel arrangements and even song choices for your band or DJ! Read on for all the details you will ever need about wedding RSVPs.

What does RSVP mean?

The official Cambridge Dictionary definition is this:

Abbreviation for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, French for “please reply”; used at the end of a written invitation to mean that you should let the people who invited you know whether or not you are coming, for example: RSVP by 9th October

As well as including a reply by date you should also make it clear to your guests exactly how you want them to reply. For example RSVP by 9th October, return enclosed postcard.

Do you say Please RSVP or just RSVP?

There are many ways to ask your guests to reply to your wedding invitation.  No one is the correct way, choose the one that best suits the tone of your invitation.  Do get the language correct though. Remember that it will either be Please/Kindly Reply/Respond or RSVP, it should never be Please/Kindly RSVP.

Rustic kraft card pocketfold invitation showing reply card with envelope
Rustic kraft card pocketfold invitation showing reply card with envelope

Do you need RSVP cards?

Historically a wedding invitation would have simply included the postal address of the hosts and guests would write their own personal reply card or note.  Nowadays it’s popular to include a pre-printed reply card, and these are particularly useful if you need specific information from your guests e.g. menu choices.  You can also ask for replies by text, phone, email or a via some wedding websites. When considering how best to ask your guests to reply think about these things:

What information do you need from them?  

For a simple accept/decline then text/phone is great, but if you need things like menu choices then we strongly a printed reply card or email to ensure you have all the correct details.

Who are your replies are going to and how will you collate them?

You’ll need to keep an accurate record of who has replied and their response for catering and table planning. Make this as easy as possible for yourself by limiting the options for replies.  This is even more important when menu options come into it. It’s very easy to forget a hurried phone conversation if you’re not able to write down the details at the time. Equally, replies going to different people can be tricky to coordinate.  Keep it simple, a little thought and planning at the invitation design stage can make things much less stressful later on.

How are your guests most likely to reply?

Consider your guests and make it as easy as possible for them to reply.  If 90% of your friends and family live on their phones, and you don’t need any detailed info from them, a text or messenger reply is great.  Email is a good option too for those who spend their days in front of a laptop. Top tip: set up a dedicated wedding email address on something like gmail or hotmail so that your replies don’t clog up your regular inbox.  You could even set up an auto responder with a thank you note and additional guest information! For your older and perhaps less tech savvy guests then a more traditional postal response would be favourite.

Blush pink & champagne glitter bellyband invitation with guest information and reply cards
Blush pink & champagne glitter bellyband invitation with guest information and reply cards

Should I put dietary requirements on my wedding RSVP?

Yes, always.  Our reply cards always include a standard line requesting this.  Even if you think you know all your guests, who are veggie, vegan etc it’s always a good idea to double check, and a line of the reply card will give them a little prompt to remind them to tell you.

Should I put stamps on RSVP cards?

This is personal choice, make your decision based on budget and how likely are your guests to actually post the cards back to you.  If you are hand delivering many of your invitations or your guests are local and in regular contact with you, they may just hand the reply cards back to you too.  If you’ve included a reply card but also given another option to reply then remember that potentially some of those stamps won;t be used.

Teal blue reply card with envelope for a wedding abroad
Teal blue reply card with envelope for a wedding abroad

Should you put an RSVP date on a wedding invitation?

We always recommend including a reply by date on your wedding rsvp.  It will help you to manage your confirmed numbers. Once the reply by date has passed you can then follow up any guests that haven’t responded.  

How much time do you give for an RSVP?

This will depend on when you are sending your invitations and how far in advance of the wedding your venue or caterers need your confirmed guest numbers.  As a general rule we recommend sending invitations three to six months before the wedding, giving your guests around for to six weeks to reply. We generally find that a shorter reply ‘deadline’ will encourage your guests to respond more quickly.

RSVP to me or my parents?

Traditionally a wedding invitation will have come from the parents of the bride with a request to respond to the bride’s mother.  If you want to follow this tradition, go for it – if Mam is a great administrator then have her coordinate the replies and manage the guest list on your behalf.  Of course, this won’t be practical for everyone, so think about what will work best for you. Even if the invitations are traditionally worded then the replies can still go to the couple.  Some wedding planners offer a wedding rsvp management service, if you’re super busy then this might be something to consider.

Pocketfold wedding invitation including a reply card with menu options
Pocketfold invitation including a reply card with menu options

What should RSVP cards say?

The most important question on a wedding RSVP is whether your guests can attend or not.  You can word this formally:

Accept with pleasure/decline with regret

Or have a little fun with the wording, there are some great examples here

As you’re more than likely feeding your guests it’s a good idea to ask for any dietary requirements, you may also need your guests to make a menu choice.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for couples to ask their guests to suggest a song for the playlist.  If you’re laying on transport for your guests then you might also want to include a tick box for this to give you an idea of numbers.

Finally, don’t forget the return address.  We love a postcard style (with your reply address printed on the back), or we can make them with a printed envelope instead.

As with all our stationery, our wedding RSVP cards are completely bespoke and can be printed with whatever you would like, non-standard is our speciality!

What about RSVPs for evening invitations?

I’ve written this blog with wedding invitations in mind.  Generally the wedding invitation will require a response to determine how many guests will attend the ceremony and following reception.  If the reception includes a traditional wedding breakfast (sit down meal) then you will need accurate guest numbers some time before the big day for catering and table planning.  For evening invitations, guest numbers may not be quite so critical and the responses could be a little more informal. I usually suggest either phone, text and/or email for evening invitations.

Does save the date have RSVP?

Generally no, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.  You might find that if your guests receive a save the date and they know straight away they can’t make the wedding then they will let you know.  If you want an early indication of numbers then informally ask for ‘regrets only’.

Blush pink and ivory wedding invitation suite
Bellyband invitation with guest information, order of the day and reply card with envelope.

What’s the best way to include an RSVP card?

It’s perfectly acceptable to simply include a loose reply card (either post card style or with an envelope) in the envelope with your invitation.  If you’re also planning on including guest information and/or gift cards then you might want want to consider a pocketfold or bellyband invitation to help keep all the pieces together.  We also have some very clever double fold invitations that include information panels and a detachable reply card, get in touch for more details.