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How To Choose a Wedding RSVP Deadline for Guests

When you’re planning a wedding, it’s important to establish a headcount. You need to know how many guests will be attending your wedding to let vendors know how much food you need, to figure out table assignments, costs per head, and more. That’s why you should set a wedding RSVP deadline for guests. 

Setting a deadline is important so that guests respond in a timely manner. Getting guests to RSVP can be difficult, so make sure you set an RSVP deadline that leaves some wiggle room to adjust the details of your wedding day. 

So, when should wedding RSVPs be due? We’ll discuss wedding invitations RSVP etiquette and more below. 

Average RSVP Date for Weddings 

 

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Wedding planners and experts generally say that your guests’ RSVPs should be due 2-4 weeks before your wedding day. Give guests enough time to RSVP, but not too much so that they forget!

Make sure that there is ample time between the date when you send out invitations and the “RSVP By” date. Guests may need a few weeks to decide if they want to attend or if the wedding fits in their schedule. 

Before you send your wedding invitations, figure out when you need guests to RSVP by. Two to four weeks is a good timeline, but consider the finer details of your wedding before you settle on a date. 

Most importantly, ask your venue and vendors when they will need the final headcount. Vendors like your venue and caterer will need to know the headcount to finalize their services and prices for the big day. 

 

When To RSVP for Weddings

As a guest, you should respond by the RSVP deadline so that the bride and groom don’t have to chase you down for an answer. The sooner you can respond, however, the better! 

If you know that you’re going to attend the wedding, you might as well respond as soon as you’re certain. This way, the happy couple can check you off of their list and start planning seating arrangements and other details.

 

What about Destination Weddings?

jamaica wedding

A destination wedding takes a bit more logistical planning and coordination than a wedding taking place close to home. Both wedding guests and the bride and groom must worry about travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, and other special factors.

The RSVP date for a destination wedding should be at least six to eight weeks before your wedding.

Invitations for destination weddings are typically sent out not weeks before the wedding, but months – experts suggest 4-5 months in advance. That way, guests can determine their travel plans and decide if they can afford to attend.

Don’t forget to alter your RSVP date timing when planning a destination wedding! Coordinate with a wedding planner to make destination wedding planning easier.

 

Wedding RSVP Etiquette

 

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What is the proper wedding RSVP etiquette for guests? Generally speaking, all you have to do is respond to your invitation before the bride and groom’s deadline and fill out any required information. 

Your RSVP may include whether or not you will be bringing a plus one (if one was offered), who your plus one guest will be, and you may need to choose your meal depending on the reception’s style. 

 

Should You RSVP to a Save the Date?

save the date

No, you generally do not need to respond to a save the date. Unless the save the date explicitly asks for a response, you can assume that no response is required.

The purpose of a save the date is usually to let guests know about the wedding date so that they can keep their schedule open, but since it’s sent well in advance of the wedding, a response isn’t typically required or expected.

 

Is It Rude Not to RSVP to a Wedding? 

Yes, it is rude not to RSVP to a wedding. If your wedding invitation asks for a response, you should let the couple know if you’re coming or not. Otherwise, you may complicate their wedding planning process, or they’ll have to waste time calling you for an answer.

If you fail to RSVP, most couples may assume that you won’t be attending. Showing up without RSVPing would be even more inconsiderate, but even if you’re responding “no” you should still RSVP in a timely manner.

Some couples also create a “B list” guest list of people they can invite if other “A list” guests respond no. Failing to respond keeps the bride and groom from including more people in their special day.

 

How To Remind Guests to RSVP 

Unfortunately, almost every couple will have some guests fail to respond by their wedding RSVP deadline. It’s hard to avoid no-response invitations. To get guests to give you an answer, try these tactics!

RSVP Wording

 

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Consider how you word the RSVP section of your wedding invitation. Some couples choose to ask for guests to RSVP with regrets only – this means that if you’re coming to the wedding, you don’t have to respond. You would only respond to let them know if you cannot make it. 

We recommend asking for a clear RSVP from every guest. Regrets only is a good idea in theory, but there is a possibility that guests will not respond and then not show up. This can lead to empty seats at tables and wasted money on extra food, drinks, favors, and more.

Be sure that your RSVP wording is clear. Ask guests to respond with whether or not they will attend by your chosen deadline, and ask for any other necessary information like their chosen dish for dinner, or the name of their plus one, if applicable.

 

Include a Return Envelope

To make it easier for guests to respond by mail, include a return envelope in your wedding invitation. The smallest things can keep people from RSVPing – they may just keep forgetting to grab an envelope until they forget to respond altogether.

Include a return envelope to make it easier for guests to respond. You can also put your address on the envelope for them to remove any room for errors.

 

Give Guests Options to RSVP 

Make it as easy as possible for guests to RSVP. This means giving different options for how they can respond. 

The old school tradition usually involves sending back an RSVP card that is included in the invitation, checking off their response. Sending RSVPs through the mail is not the most efficient method, however. 

Give guests different options to RSVP so that they’re more likely to respond on time. Offer an email address for responses – we recommend making a separate email account dedicated to wedding planning to stay organized. 

You can also encourage guests to RSVP through your wedding website – many wedding website creators offer this feature, or you can use a contact form on the site. 

Some guests may want to call to RSVP – make it clear whether or not you accept this method. Calls and texts to your personal phone can get lost in the mix, or someone may call at an inconvenient time for you. Let guests know on the invitation if they can call you to RSVP.

 

Ask for Food or Song Requests 

rsvp card

Another way to encourage guests to RSVP is to ask for further information on the invitation. If your wedding reception features a sit-down dinner where guests have to choose their meal in advance, they are usually asked to choose a dish when they RSVP. 

This can help encourage responses – guests will want to make sure that they get their meal of choice, so they’re more likely to RSVP on time. 

If you opt for an alternative wedding reception style, you may not need to ask for their food preferences and allergies. Another question to include is to ask guests for a song request. This can help improve your response rate, as some guests will be excited to recommend a song for your wedding playlist.  

 

Stay in Touch 

Keep guests in the loop as the RSVP deadline approaches to remind them to respond. In the weeks prior to the wedding, you can use your wedding website to share reminders, send email newsletters about your wedding that include reminders, or even use social media. 

Stay in touch with guests so that they are more likely to remember to RSVP. If you happen to see them in person and you know they haven’t responded yet, you can even casually ask if they received their invitation as a subtle reminder. 

 

Follow Up 

woman on phone

Once you hit your wedding RSVP deadline, you may still find that some guests have not responded. Waste no time in following up with them. 

Assuming that you left a fair amount of time between sending invitations and your wedding RSVP by date, guests have already had enough time to make a decision. Start calling or emailing as soon as the day after your RSVP deadline passes. 

While it can be frustration for guests to fail to respond while you’re busy planning a whole wedding, be polite on these follow up calls. Ask guests directly if they’ll be able to attend your wedding. If they don’t have an answer ready, give them a day or two at most – as we said, they’ve already had plenty of time. 

 

Final Thoughts

Getting your wedding guests to RSVP can be a headache, but you can improve their response rate with the right wording, reminders, and more. Use these tips so that all of your guests meet your wedding RSVP deadline! 

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