Regardless of what form they come in, RSVPs are a crucial part of every wedding. They make sure that your guests are on the same page when it comes to how you want your special day to unfold, and that you have a wonderfully organized guest list for you and your vendors to plan around. Of course, the bigger question isn’t should you send invitations, it’s how you make them in the first place! So to make the whole process simpler, we broke it down into the classic Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Wedding RSVPs.

photo-1448932133140-b4045783ed9eWHO’s invited?

This is the very first thing you need to decide before sending out the invites. Are you doing adults-only? Are you allowing plus-ones? It’s tempting to lean towards a more inclusive guest list, but remember that adding extra guests is one of the biggest increase to your wedding expenses. Once you decide on your guest list, make sure to clearly state who each invitation is addressed to. Mention each guest by name and avoid any open-ended phrases like “and Guest” which may translate to “Rowdy Strangers Welcome!”

If someone RSVPs with additional names you didn’t account for, just kindly explain your reasoning for the exclusion and let them know that you hope they can still make it. After all, these are your closest friends and family – if an issue comes up, you should be able to find a friendly compromise!

WHAT information should you include?

There’s the standard information like the date, time, and location of your wedding, but be sure to remember the details that will answer any other questions your guests might ask! The most common one is the dress code – you can hint at your wedding’s theme, colour palette, and formality through the design of the invitation itself, but a simple line reading “black tie” or “casual wear” will be much appreciated.

If you’re open to receiving RSVPs in ways other than by the return address, say so! Include all the ways that your guests can reach you, like your preferred phone number, Facebook account, wedding website, and other platforms. If you want your guests input for aspects of the wedding, like the playlist or activities, the RSVP is also a great place to ask for it!

photo-1435527173128-983b87201f4d (1)WHEN should you send and follow up?

When to send the RSVPs tends to vary depending on your wedding arrangements and location of your guests. A good benchmark is three months before the date, but that should be extended to at least six months to a year for a destination wedding. If you’re after more security, save-the-date cards are a classic option! This gives guests to immediately check their calendar and mark a placeholder for your wedding, so you’ll have less uncertainty leading up to the big day.

As for following up, set the deadline for RSVPs about a month to a month and a half before the wedding so you have some wiggle room to confirm the guest list. Make sure to give unresponsive guests a call just after the deadline, and a final time two weeks before so you can give your caterer a final guest count and finalize the seating plan.

photo-1463750907899-09643911554aWHERE do you send them?

Just like how guests can respond to the invitation in different ways, you have options for how you want to send them! Feel free to cut down your budget and carbon footprint by using E-vites or a wedding Facebook page, rather than a physical invite. This is especially helpful for guests who live far away and are more easily contacted online. If you’re concerned about guests who aren’t as tech-savvy, feel free to set those few aside to call or mail the RSVPs to – just make sure that you’re organized in keeping track of what was sent to who. Speaking of which…

WHY are they helpful?

Aside from how useful RSVPs are for your guests, they’re also important for tracking who’s coming and who’s not. Keep a Google, Excel, or handwritten spreadsheet with everyone invited, and include the headings “Name of Guest”, “Email Address”, “Phone Number”, “Invitation Sent – Yes or No”, “RSVP-ed – Yes or No”, “First Follow Up” and “Second Follow Up”. This will keep you organized so that when it comes to providing the guest count, you won’t have to guess.

Wedding RSVPs may be time-consuming and easy to mix up, but as long as you have a battle plan going into the process, your wedding is sure to be smooth sailing. Let us know what tips you have for crafting the perfect wedding invite in the comments! Happy Planning!

by Chantal Lim

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