RSVP cards or reply cards are an essential part of planning your wedding. They help keep track of the number of guests attending your wedding and help organize special menu requests for your venue. Styling and formatting your reply cards can depend on whether you’re having a more traditional or casual wedding. But no matter what your style, there are some important rules worth sticking to. From sending your reply cards to tracking guest RSVPs, we’ve laid out some tips to help make an important part of your wedding planning a little bit easier.
1. Send your wedding invitations on time
This is SO important! You should plan to send your wedding invitations out 6-8 weeks before the big day so guests have about 3-4 weeks to respond. Sticking with this rule can make a big impact on the amount of RSVPs that you will receive. Send them out too soon, and guests may cast them aside in the never ending "to-do" pile. Send them out too late, and guests may feel rushed to make travel arrangements.
Note: If you’re planning a destination wedding, send your invitations 7-9 months before the wedding to give guests enough time to make travel arrangements. Then, require that guests respond 2 months before the wedding to encourage them to book travel arrangements in plenty of time.
2. Set a deadline for receiving RSVP cards
Allowing 3-4 weeks between your RSVP date and the actual date of your wedding will also allow you to follow up with missing replies, as well as making plans for uneven or unexpected numbers.
Note: Check with your vendors. If your caterer, florist or stylist needs a lot of advance warning on the final headcount, make sure to plan your RSVP timeline accordingly.
3. Stating who's invited
The reply card is a great way to let guests know exactly who is invited if you aren't using an inner/outer envelope system. Include one of the following as a helpful method for guests with unknown plus 1's, or families with children who may be unclear how to RSVP.
- We have reserved _____ seats in your name
- ______ seats reserved in your honor
- Number of guests attending ________
- ______ of ______ guests will attend
Adults Only: Adult only weddings should be clearly indicated on the response card and NEVER on the invitation. Writing "number of adults attending/declining" or "list all adult guest names" on the reply card is a clear, polite way to convey the number of guests you wish to invite.
4. Meal options
If you’re having a plated and seated dinner with a choice of more than 1 entrée, you should include a meal preference section at the bottom of the reply card for guests to initial next to their choice. Since guests may not remember which entree they chose, have a discreet system to alert servers, such as a decoration on the guest’s place card, that indicates “beef,” “fish,” or “vegetarian.”
5. Number your RSVP cards
Speaking of missing replies, number your guest list and subtly mark your response cards according to that guest's number. Save yourself the hassle of extra follow up and eliminate any confusion regarding illegible writing or incomplete response cards. The best way to stay organized and keep track of your RSVPs is by setting up a spreadsheet with your guests’ names, phone number and/or email address, responses (yes or no), meal preferences and number of attendees.
6. Include postage
Pre-address and stamp your response cards for maximum convenience. You may even consider including an enclosure card with your wedding website, or an email or phone number to make sure you get those RSVP's on time.
7. Addressing your RSVPs
It's important to follow proper wedding etiquette when addressing RSVP card envelopes. For traditional wedding invitations, write out words like street or avenue. For non-traditional wedding invitations, it’s okay to use standard abbreviations like St. or Ave.
8. Receiving your RSVPs
Determine where you want your reply cards to be sent. Traditionally, reply cards are sent to the bride’s parents’ address. However, you can have them sent to anyone who will be keeping track of the RSVP details and contacting vendors. This can be family members, friends or even the couple themselves.
Response card wording examples
Response card with meal choices
__Accepts with Pleasure
__Declines with Regrets
Please Choice One of the Following:
___Rack of Lamb
Response card for number of guests
Number Attending ___________
Please Indicate Your Selection:
______ Vegetarian Lasagna
______ Herb-Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
Response card without an m. line
Guest Name(s): _____________________________
____Will Attend ____Will Not Attend
Please Include any Food Allergies in the Space Below:
Creative response card wording
___Can‘t Wait to Celebrate!
___ Sorry to Miss Out
Response card including multiple events
____Delightfully Accepts ____ Regretfully Declines
Name(s): _____________________________ will Attend the Rehearsal Dinner
Name(s): _____________________________ will Attend the Ceremony
Name(s): _____________________________ Will Attend the Cocktail Reception