Top Tweaks and Tricks to Make RSVP’s Pain-free

Amanda Cookson • November 24, 2014
Top Tweaks and Tricks to Make RSVP’s Pain-free - WeddingWise Articles

When I’m working with couples on their wedding invitations, the logistics of sending their wedding invites, setting RSVP dates, and actually getting the responses in becomes a hot topic. I asked some newly married couples for how they got their RSVP’s in, and received some great advice. Here are a few tweaks and insider knowledge gained from this survey, so you too can get your guest’s responses in quickly and stress free:

When should you send out your wedding invitations?

The time between when you send your invites and the date of your actual wedding plays a large part in how your RSVPs go.  The couples who had the best return rates sent their invitations between 3 and 4 months prior to their wedding

If you send your invites out really early, then your guests will forget, or will think “I’ll get round to that”.  There’s no sense of urgency.  If you find yourself justifying sending them early due to Christmas, holidays, people having to travel… that’s what Save the Dates are for! If you’re worried about budget, then email the Save the Dates out. There were plenty of invitations sent at the 6 month mark, which still had a terrible response rate.

If you send your invites too close to the wedding, then of course you’ll risk people having other plans, or not enough time to get RSVPs returned (if using the more traditional methods) - especially if guests are away on holiday when the invitations are sent out.

Top Tweaks and Tricks to Make RSVP’s Pain-free - WeddingWise Articles

Setting your RSVP date

A month out from your wedding is usually a good time for your RSVP’s to be due.  If you set your RSVP date to be two or three months out, your guest’s plans might change. A month gives you time to finalise numbers for the caterer, sort seating plans, and, as many of the survey respondents commented, “...leaves time to chase the guests after RSVPs are due”.

Unfortunately the late RSVPs are usually the one’s declining to attend.  One bride summed up why she was left waiting for all those RSVPs: “Our close friends (people our age) seemed to assume we knew they were coming and didn’t understand the process and importance. We also had family who weren’t sure they could make it but felt bad telling us so they put it off. People really don’t get how much work it is or think it won’t matter”.  But we all know it does!

Having an early response date (say, two months before) means you can send a second round of invites. If you’re happy to risk having the occasional guest changing their mind, then this is a great way to squeeze a few extra people into your day (without risking going over-capacity!).

How to receive your responses

This is one of those little tweaks that can make a big difference.  Lots of the couple’s surveyed said something along the lines of: “I wanted to give my guests plenty of RSVP options”. However, the data doesn’t lie, and the results are in: the worst return rates were for invitations with four or more response options.  The best RSVP response rates belonged to those with only 2 different reply methods.

Guests get overwhelmed by lots of options - and don’t do anything as a result! Keep it as simple as possible. If you’re trying to decide on what options to pop down, I’d recommend including an email address, and a cellphone number.

Some couples who used postcards did have a high response rate (especially when a stamp and return envelope is included), but as one respondent reflected: “I wouldn’t have sent out RSVP cards and instead just done it via email or cell number, as that is what most people ended up doing anyway”.  As with many wedding decisions, you always have to consider your unique situation.

A RSVP postcard is ideal when you need to get a guest’s menu options in advance, or you’re arranging transport and need an early commitment. It’s not so good when your guests are pretty relaxed, generally of a younger generation, or it’s not long till the big day. 

Providing a cellphone number, instead of a land line, is a great way to cover your bases. It means less options on the invitation (which makes it look more elegant and reduces guest overwhelm) and it means your guests can call or text you. You look after the older generation, and your younger guests too.  Many of your guests already know how to contact you, and will potentially end up responding via their preferred medium anyway.

A few more bonus tips

Hand out a guest list to your parents and in-laws
Despite your agonising over the best method to collect your invites, some guests will still RSVP to your folks. One piece of advice by a couple who replied to the survey was to give parents a copy of the guest list “ some people casually mention to the parents they are coming and expect that to do!”. If your parents are tech-savvy, set up your guest list on Google Docs and share it with them; you’ll have a central place to collect responses and it’ll be up to date all the time.

Set a date
The very worst results were seen with the wedding invitations which didn’t have any RSVP date indicated.  RSVP dates give your guests a sense of urgency and a deadline for making a decision.

Follow Up
As much as you hope and pray to get every last response in on time, the likelihood is your guests will get distracted, forget, or will leave it till the last minute. Accept it, plan for it, and send out a mass email, text or get on the phone.

To sum up

Save yourself stress and send your wedding invitations out at a suitable time, set your RSVP date a month out, and keep your guest’s response options simple with just a couple of options. I know it’s nice to get these things off your to-do list, but doing things too early may mean more work and more hassle in the long run.

Amanda Cookson
Amanda Cookson

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