The Art of the RSVP

Wedding Guest Book

We recently sent out our wedding invitations and you wouldn’t believe the anticipation that builds up as we go out to check the mail everyday. One more RSVP! Woo hoo!! 

If you haven’t noticed already, there are a lot of ‘rules’ that go along with wedding planning; a lot of guidelines that should be followed according to tradition. We will be the first to tell you that some of these rules are meant to be broken (except for wedding etiquette in a digital world. Please don't break those rules). We have pushed the envelope on these ‘traditions’ and we have created some of our own guidelines in order to create a wedding day that best fits us, who we are and what we love. In addition to not having the typical two-color scheme where everything matches and our invitations that are fun rather than formal, we have also opted to invite a smaller number of people. I have noticed a cringe or two from my family members when I mentioned our limited guest list and we’ve had to answer the “but who are we going to find to babysit?” when we pointed out that there will be no children at our wedding.  Although we definitely understand the gripes we’ve heard so far, trust me when I say we haven’t made one choice without agonizing over it for hours (or even days). Now that everything is coming together with just a couple of weeks to go, we are happy with the decisions we’ve made, the traditions we’ve kept (and broken) and we’re full of excitement to take our vows and spend the day with our closest friends and family.

Typewriter Wedding Guest book

However, there are a few of these guidelines that you simply must follow, even when it comes to being a guest at a wedding. If you think being a gracious guest simply means getting something off of the registry and showing up ready to dance, we’ve got some advice for you. The first thing you’ll probably do as an official wedding guest is decide whether or not you can attend - enter The Art of the RSVP. Most people know what an RSVP is. Literally, a request for a response. Répondez s'il vous plaît, if you will. Even though most are well aware of what it is, many people still wait until the last second to send in the official RSVP, or don’t send it at all. I’m here to stress the importance and the urgency of sending your RSVP promptly and accurately (yes, there are right and wrong ways of doing this).

Pink Vera Wang Wedding Dress
Groom in Jet Blue Suit
Diamond Wedding Ring

The RSVP holds an important role in nearly every aspect of planning a wedding. There’s a reason for the RSVP-by date too - the couple needs to know exactly how many people are coming so they have enough chairs, meals, favors, and other items they may need to order from vendors. On top of all the wedding planning, the last thing the couple needs to do in the weeks leading up to the big day is call the friends and family who have not sent in their RSVP. Be considerate, and send your RSVP as soon as you make the decision about whether or not to attend. You have probably talked to the bride and groom about the wedding date, or even received a save the date months in advance and know whether you can make it or not. Remember that snail mail can take time to arrive, so send your response with plenty of time to reach the couple before the cutoff date.

In addition to sending your RSVP in a timely manner, make sure you are doing it correctly. Take a close look at the envelope, invitation, and RSVP card. Make note of the names or the number of guests that have been allocated to you. If there is only one name on the envelope, there is only one person invited. If your children’s names are not listed, it may be an adults-only event. Keep all of these details in mind when you are sending your response.  If you have questions, ask a family member or a close friend of the couple before assuming anything.

The same idea goes for dates, or ‘plus ones’. Traditionally, you shouldn’t expect to receive a plus one if you haven’t been dating long or if the couple hasn’t met your significant other. Although we mostly encourage breaking tradition, this can be a tricky one since guest count is such a big issue for venue space and budget dollars. Don’t assume that just because they have met your boyfriend once briefly at a loud crowded bar that he is invited. Take a close look at that invitation and only RSVP for invited guests.

Finally, make sure you write your name somewhere on the RSVP (if it’s not already there). Ordering blank RSVP cards is a whole lot easier than matching each card with its specific envelope, so there’s usually a blank space next to ‘attending’ for you to write your name. Many times, guests will check the box for whether they are coming or not, but don’t realize they need to write their names in as well. The couple will receive the RSVP that SOMEONE is coming, but they won’t be sure who. If there is a line to fill in who is RSVP’ing, make sure to fill it in.  A quick tip for planning couples: number your invitations and RSVP cards and keep a spreadsheet of the information. If you do receive a blank card, you’ll know where it came from.

Chalkboard Wedding Seating Chart
Reception Escort Cards
Antique Wedding Seating Chart

Clayton Wedding Update

We couldn't be happier with how our wedding invitations turned out, thanks to Uppercase Designs. Our Illustration from Lily & Threads (on Etsy) is perfect and we are enjoying hearing back from our guests with their song requests! Whether you choose to go with a more formal invitation, or more fun and casual like ours (see below), enjoy the process! If you are still in the process of planning your invitations (or will be soon), check out some of our tips and advice to help you through it!


Overall, the most important thing is to respect the time and energy the couple has put into planning their big day. You may not receive a thank you card for RSVPing the right way, but the couple will definitely appreciate it since you’ll make their lives a little easier at this hectic time. And if you’re the ones getting married and waiting for your RSVPs, don’t let it stress you out too much. Be prepared for there to be a few stragglers and give yourself a some extra time to let your caterer know the final count.  What has your experience been with RSVPs for your wedding? Do you have any other etiquette tips to add? Let us know in the comments below!