When Should The RSVP Date Be For A Wedding?

Your final RSVP date, in an ideal world, is this mythical utopia where all the important wedding-related information is collated and sorted.

This is the day that you should know an accurate guest count on who is going to be attending and their dietary requirements, and you can commence puzzling over a seating chart and telling caterers the final headcount of the guest list.  

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Wedding RSVP Etiquette

Setting your RSVP date at the right time before your wedding date is therefore very important. So, what is the RSVP process and when should the RSVP due date be for a wedding?

Firstly, don’t set it too far out. Setting an RSVP date on wedding invitations too early can lead to problems.

When should the RSVP date be?

A sensible RSVP date is 4 to 6 weeks before your wedding, with the final due date being around 2-3 weeks prior. This gives you time to know the final headcount to tell wedding vendors and have the final headcount to sort the seating charts.

If you’ve sent your wedding invitations at an appropriate time, (let’s say 8-12 weeks before the wedding), this gives guests plenty of time to check schedules and gives your vendors enough notice to get things organized. 

If you are concerned about wedding guests not being able to come with only 8-12 weeks’ notice, send a “Save the Date” card before the wedding invitations. Save the date cards are traditionally sent approximately 1 year to 6 months prior to a wedding and that’s more than enough time.

This rule changes a little for destination weddings.

RSVP date for a destination wedding

The RSVP deadline for a destination wedding is a bit different. There are travel arrangements to make and accommodation to sort. If you’re having a destination wedding, guests will need to be given extra notice to book accommodation and travel, and you’ll need to give extra notice too.

For these weddings, send out a Save the Date card around a year in advance, and wedding invitations around 4 months before your wedding. The RSVP date should be around 8 weeks before the destination wedding.

Don’t set wedding RSVPs too early – 3 reasons why

1. Guests procrastinate 

If you send out your wedding invites too early with a too big time frame, those friends and family that you want to be there on your wedding day may never get around to RSVPing in the first place! 

Everyone thinks that they have ample time, and so they put your beautiful wedding invitation on the shelf, and admire it…until a couple of weeks before the wedding. 

They will then panic that they haven’t told you that they are coming, and you will end up getting thirty frantic phone calls the day before the big day.

2. Future changes 

You will find that nothing ever stays the same. If you decide to invite people’s partners, you could find that they are not together by the time your wedding day comes around. They might RSVP for both of them, then their relationship status changes – and so will their RSVP status (or you run the risk of having no-shows!).

People that work on shifts will never be able to tell more than four weeks out – if they are lucky – beforehand whether or not they are free. RSVPs make everything that little bit more complicated, but obviously, they are needed for the wedding planning process. Setting your RSVP date for about a month to 6 weeks out is a happy medium.

3. Your caterer doesn’t need the final head count early 

Why do you need so much time anyway? Your caterer does not need two months’ notice in order to perfect the menu. They generally need two weeks’ notice, to secure staff and order the ingredients.

They’ll let you know when the final numbers need to go in – but generally, as long as your numbers are roughly what you suggested they’d be, you’ll be all good.

How should I ask guests to RSVP?

  • Give your guests choices on how they can RSVP. For physical RSVPS to send via postal services, include RSVP response cards and a return envelope with a return address along with the wedding invitation. Ensure the postage is already paid so they can simply tick their answer and then bring their reply card to the post office.
  • For a digital RSVP, include your email address and wedding website URL.
  • Ask them a question – Ask your guests what their wedding meal choice is or perhaps their favorite song choice for the DJ to play. A question like this that requires a personalized answer can encourage guests to respond faster. “Hey! Just wanted to see if you are coming to our wedding. If so, please also let me know if your meal choice is chicken, fish, or vegetarian. Thank you! Love, the Nearlyweds
  • Discourage verbal RSVPs. This is a general rule of thumb. For some close friends and family members, we might not expect a formal RSVP. However, discourage verbal RSVPs if you can. they can be too hard to keep track of. If you do get an RSVP via phone call or see the person in the street, write it down straight away!

How can I remind guests to RSVP for my wedding if they’re late?

Rsvp is the abbreviation of the French phrase répondez s’il vous plaît- Respond, please. It’s frustrating when late responders don’t RSVP within the dates given! Choose one of these polite but firm reminders for your guests who are late to respond.

  • If the final RSVP deadline date has passed, don’t be afraid to ask the guest directly if they are coming. You can do this either through email or over the phone. Giving them a short window of time to respond with an answer is well within your rights as they are already late and you’ve got a wedding to organize! 
  • If the RSVP date has passed, don’t be afraid to politely ask the guest directly if they are coming, again either in person or with a phone call. You could email them but the easiest way is to ask directly or you run the risk of them not replying to the email. Giving them a short window of time to respond with an answer is well within your rights as they are already late and you’ve got a wedding to organize! “Hey [guest], we are just reaching out to see if you are able to make it to our wedding. Our caterer needs to know the final number so please let us know by Friday. Love, the Nearlyweds.

Final thoughts

Setting the right RSVP date for a wedding is crucial for ensuring a smooth event planning process. To determine the ideal date, consider factors such as catering deadlines, final guest count requirements, and allowing time for last-minute adjustments.

Aim to set the RSVP deadline at least two to three weeks before the wedding, while sending out invitations around six to eight weeks prior. This approach balances giving guests ample time to respond with providing the couple enough time to finalize details, ultimately leading to a well-organized and stress-free wedding experience.

For more wedding planning posts check out some of these other guides:

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