Getting RSVPs in on time (and with your sanity intact)

It’s three weeks to the wedding, and your RSVP date has been and gone. You’ve expected a flurry of last minute responses… and *crickets*.


What’s going on?! Getting RSVPs in should be easy, right?


There is a few things at play here. First and foremost, we kiwis are a casual bunch. Formally RSVPing goes against our “she’ll be right mate” culture.  No stress though, today I’m sharing my top tips  on how to get your guest’s sending their RSVPS in on time (honed through years as a wedding invitation designer)

Tip 1: Send out your invites 8 weeks before the wedding

I’m the queen of getting things crossed off my to-do list. So I totally understand the urge to want to send out wedding invitations months in advance. However, getting your wedding invitations out is one thing you shouldn’t rush.

There’s a trend towards sending out wedding invites incredibly early. Your invitations don’t need to go out until 8 weeks before the wedding – 12 weeks if you can’t help yourself. I’ve personally received wedding invitations over 6 months before! Sure, you can nearly guarantee that your guests won’t be booked up for your date, but do you know what will happen: “Ohh, a wedding six months away – great! I’ll pop that RSVP card aside and get back to it”.


And they never do. Or they RSVP and then something else comes up. Either way, you get mucked about.
If you are sending your invites out that early because the guests are overseas, because you’re worried about people being unable to attend, it’s a holiday weekend or a destination wedding – then you should be sending Save the Dates (informally by email is fine).

Tip 2: Discourage verbal RSVPs… but don’t be too much of a hard-arse

For some family members, we knew not to expect a formal RSVP. Instead, I had my mother-in-law check in with them what their plans were. There’s no point stressing – it’s nothing personal. The tip here is to have a system in place to ensure you capture everyone’s RSVPs, no matter how they arrive.
Get your parents, your partner’s parents, and the wedding party on board with a consistent approach. Either they refer any verbal RSVP’s back to you straight away, or they ask the RSVPer to send in their RSVP card/email/phone/smoke signal their intentions directly to the source. If you trust your Mums enough with technology, then give them editing privileges on a Google Drive spreadsheet and allow them to complete the guest’s yay or nay.
getting rsvps in on time
Image courtesy Be My Guest Design

 Tip 3: Number your RSVP cards

Most brides I know run a pretty extensive wedding spreadsheet. It’s a great way to keep track of everything really tidily.  Here’s a tip: add a column next to your guest names, and number them. When you send out your invitation and RSVP card, on each RSVP, write in light pencil the number that corresponds to the guest. That way, when your guest forgets to write their name in, and assumes you are a mind reader… you can be!

Tip 4: Let me count the ways…

Unless you are after lots of details – menu choices, if guests need the bus, or dietary restrictions (etc…) you don’t have to require a RSVP card response. Make it as easy as humanly possible for your guests to RSVP. Include a self-addressed envelope, add email addresses, or suggest they text your cell.
The only option I actively discourage is a phone call. If they ring while you’re at the supermarket, and you then get into a convo with Jenny at the checkout… and… hmm all of a sudden you’ve forgotten to note down that cousin Toni is coming with her three kids and they have various allergies to cater for. Ugh.
On the other hand – don’t overload your guests with RSVP options. Pick two to save people getting overwhelmed …and doing nothing.

Tip 5: Choose an appropriate RSVP date

This is semi-related to the first tip. Set your RSVP date so that your guests will look at it and think, “I better get onto that” rather than “I’ll sort that later”. So if you are sending out invites 8 weeks before, then set the date 3 or 4 weeks before. This is then plenty of time to chase stragglers, but you also have a short enough window of time that your guests will apply some priority to your RSVP. Here’s some more advice on setting an appropriate RSVP date.

Any other RSVP tips? Or RSVP/guest nightmares?

Any other tips you want to share? Any burning etiquette issues you want answered? Comment with your questions below

One thought on “Getting RSVPs in on time (and with your sanity intact)

  1. Phew, glad to know that sending our invites out 8 weeks before (due to delays in invitation printing) actually works in our favour!

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