It may be a surprising that there are specific etiquette rules surrounding RSVPs, but it can be a huge help for both sides of the invite. There are rules involved for sending and asking for RSVPs, as well as responding to an RSVP request. By following the rules of RSVP etiquette, asking for and responding to RSVPs can alleviate headaches on both sides.

When sending out invitations and asking for RSVPs, the following ‘rules of etiquette’ apply:

1. Give plenty of response time. Send out the invitations at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to the wedding date, and have the RSVP date between 2 to 3 weeks before the wedding date. This will allow 3 to 4 weeks for a response time.

2. Make it obvious as to who is included on the invited. If you are sending to an individual, only include their name. If they are allowed to bring a significant other, or other guest, be sure to include that person’s name, if known, or simply address to ‘& guest.’ If inviting a family, list parent’s names and then include ‘& family.’ You may also ask them to list the names of children, if you are creating a seating chart, or at least the number of children they will be bringing.

3. Have a separate insert for information regarding your wedding website or registry. Any hotel or flight information can be listed on the separate insert as well, or listed on your website with a link provided. It is considered extremely tacky to list your registry directly on your invitation, even if it is common knowledge that guests should bring a wedding gift.  

4. Include a stamped envelope for guests to return their RSVPs, if you are requiring response by mail. Otherwise, provide specific instructions for emailing, or calling, with their response. The easier you make this for your guests, the faster they will be able to return their RSVP.

When responding to a request for an RSVP, the following ‘rules of etiquette’ apply:  

1. Respond by the requested date. This seems like a simple, common sense rule, but it is the most important part of the RSVP process. Respond immediately if possible, but otherwise respond as early as you can. If you do not respond by the requested date, orders for food, booze, chairs, etc. may have already been placed. You will be causing the bride and groom unnecessary stress to make last minute changes, and may end up costing them extra fees for orders that have already been set.

2. Pay attention to the names on the invite. The bride and groom may not have the budget or physical space to invite significant others or additional guests. It is extremely rude to add extra names on to the RSVP, or to assume that your significant other is invited just because you are invited.

3. Respond in the requested manner. If you are given a stamped envelope and asked to fill out a response card to send back, do it. Do not assume an email, phone call, or text, is an appropriate response unless you are specifically directed to use that type of response. Keep in mind, the couple will be receiving potentially hundreds of RSVPs, so unless you respond in the requested manner, your response may not count.

4. Respond either way. If you are unable to attend the wedding, please make sure to let the couple know that you will not be attending. Lack of response can cause huge amounts of stress, and may force the couple to take time out of their already busy planning schedule to follow up with you. You will not offend anyone by returning a RSVP card declining their invitation, as everyone understands that people have busy lives, and may simply not be able to make the selected date. On the other hand, even if you are best friends with the couple and are a member of the bridal party, you will still need to return the RSVP stating that you are attending. The couple will have a million other details to take care of, and accounting for individuals that will be attending but have not RSVP’d is not something they will remember.

                By sticking to these simply rules, RSVPs can be a smooth process for everyone. At the end of the day, whether you are sending or receiving the RSVP, the most important rule is to be considerate. Thanks for reading, and happy wedding planning!