Nowadays, not many people know how to fill out wedding invitations RSVP appropriately.
Handwritten response cards with formal wording were a norm back in the day, but modern RSVPs are a bit more streamlined.
Most couples include a preprinted response card to ensure their guests don’t miss any vital information and don’t have to word the reply themselves. Even then, mistakes occur.
You should follow the wedding invitation RSVP etiquette, whether you accept the invitation with great pleasure or regretfully decline it.
Be clear, concise, polite, respond on time, and don’t ignore the invitation – these are the primary wedding invitation RSVP rules.
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What Is RSVP, Exactly?
Before we dive into RSVP etiquette, you may wonder, what does RSVP mean? RSVP is derived from the French phrase répondez s’il vous plait, translating as “please respond.”
Therefore, if you see the RSVP on a wedding invitation, the couple expects you to respond to whether you’ll attend the event.
Some wedding invitations state “RSVP regrets only,” meaning that only guests who can’t attend should respond. Everyone who didn’t respond is expected to participate in the wedding.
Read the Invitation Carefully
Filling out RSVPs is a bit like a school test. The answers are simple, but you should read the questions carefully to avoid confusion. First, decipher who’s invited unless you’re single with no kids.
RSVP cards typically have a line for the names of attending guests. But before you assume that you can bring your plus one or children along, make sure they are invited.
Read the names on the outer and inner envelopes. If an envelope states “Mr. & Mrs. Jones” but there is no mention of kids, the chances are that the event is adult-only.
One may think that there’s no harm in checking whether kids are invited with the couple directly. But this way, the guest forces the couple to refuse, making them feel uncomfortable.
On the other hand, if the envelope states “Mr. & Mrs. Jones, Ruby, Rose, and Jack,” the kids are also welcome. The envelope may also simply state “Mr. Jones and family.”
In cases where the couple doesn’t know a guest’s partner’s name but welcomes them to the wedding, the envelope will mention “Mr. Jones and guest” or simply “+1.” If there’s no mention of a plus one, asking to bring someone along is rude.
Sometimes, the number of invited people is indicated on the RSVP card rather than on the envelope. You should also check the invitations carefully for essential information such as the location, date, time, and dress code.
When to Respond
There’s no set time when to respond to RSVP requests.
Sometimes, couples mention the RSVP response deadline to allow enough time to finalize the event site, favors, caterer, and other details. Always consider the mailing time when you send the response.
However, in most cases, the guests should use their judgment. It’s better to reply early than late. Ideally, send your response as soon as possible, within a couple of days from receiving the invitation.
If you don’t know whether you’ll be able to attend before the deadline, don’t hesitate to give the couple a call.
Formalities aside, we’re all human beings. You can explain to the couple your situation and ask whether they have some flexibility.
If giving a call is impossible, it’s best to decline the invitation to avoid the couple losing money. If your plans change, contact the couple and ask whether they can still fit an extra person.
Canceling an RSVP is considered a bad tone, but there can be exceptions, such as illness or loss of a loved one.
How to Fill a Preprinted Response Card
Filling out an RSVP with a preprinted response card is simple – all you need to do is write your responses in blank spaces. When filling out the names, remember to only mention people who will attend and not everyone invited.
If three people from your family are invited but only one will attend the wedding, write “1” and their name in the dedicated field. Don’t mention other family members unless on a dedicated line.
If you can’t attend the wedding, leave a checkmark near the “declines with regret” or similar line. If there is a blank space for the reason, explain yours and congratulate the couple on their soon wedding.
Often, the RSVP response card includes food choices. If you’re the only one invited, simply leave a checkmark near the preferred meal. If you’re invited with the family, write numbers near the chosen meals.
For example, if you want a meal A, your spouse a meal B, and two children a meal C, write “1” next to A and B and “2” next to C to help the couple count the meals.
Wedding RSVP cards without meal choice presume that the couple either plans a buffet-style reception or only has one meal option.
How to Answer Without a Response Card
Filling out a preprinted response card is straightforward. But how do you fill out an RSVP without a response card? First, determine the tone of the invitation and match your response tone with it.
If the invitation states something along the lines of “We, John and Sara, invite you to the celebration of our matrimony,” reply in an equally formal tone.
On the other hand, if you’re very close to the couple and know they will appreciate an informal response, feel free to answer in a more friendly tone.
Write your response on a separate sheet of paper or the other side of the RSVP card but start with a scratch. You may need to try out different wordings to find the best option.
Don’t forget to mention everyone who is planning to attend as long as they’re invited. You should also note your food preferences, but only if the couple gives you a choice.
Mail the response back in a stamped envelope provided with the RSVP card. The wedding invitation etiquette presumes that the couple pays for the postage, but you will need to pay for the postage yourself if there’s no envelope.
Don’t respond over the phone or make a drama over a dollar you had to spend on mailing the response. This point may seem obvious, but better to be safe than sorry.
You shouldn’t include any extra information that the couple didn’t ask for. For instance, don’t include your song requests or questions to the couple.
Always fill out the RSVP card with ink, preferably black or blue. However, if colored ink fits the wedding theme and your personality, there’s no harm in choosing pink or green.
Most importantly, don’t use a pencil because it may smear and make your response unreadable. Don’t use gel pens either.
Write Your Full Name
The number of people forgetting to write their names on RSVP response cards is astonishing. A checkmark or number doesn’t clarify who will attend.
Sometimes, this mistake is minor – if you were invited alone and forgot to mention your name, the couple can check it on the envelope.
However, it can get confusing if you were invited as a family and only some plan to attend. Therefore, mention your full names with the surname and title because someone else may have the same name.
Preprinted response cards typically have an “M” preceding a blank space. In this case, write your name exactly as written on the envelope.
You may skip the title if you’re responding without a response card in an informal tone, but don’t skip your surname.
Don’t Respond Over the Phone
The Google search for “how to respond to a wedding invitation by text” is too popular for something that shouldn’t be done.
If you received an invitation by mail, don’t respond to it over the phone, text, or by email. Firstly, responding with a preprinted response card is basic etiquette. Designing, printing, and sending cards takes time and money.
Secondly, the couple may be busy planning the event and not have time to talk over the phone. Either way, they will need to record your response manually and ensure they don’t lose it, so it means extra work for the hosts.
Disclose Allergies and Diets
Asking the guests about their food allergies is a good tone. If an RSVP response card has a line dedicated to allergies, disclose yours, but don’t mention food preferences or mild sensitivities.
But how do you mention allergies in a wedding RSVP if the couple didn’t ask you about it? If there’s no dedicated line, make a follow-up call to your RSVP and discuss your allergy with the couple directly.
You may also politely disclose your dietary restrictions in your written response, but the couple may miss additional notes if they have a lot of cards.
Make It Personal
Although wedding invitations typically have a formal tone, a bit of personal touch won’t hurt anyone.
Don’t hesitate to leave a congratulation note on the other side of the RSVP response card but keep it appropriate.
Clarity is the top priority in filling out RSVP response cards. Be clear about the number of guests attending, chosen meals, and any other information.
If you aren’t yet sure about attending or your preferred meal, pick one response and stick with it instead of making a mess or giving vague answers.
Ensure your writing can be comprehended. Ideally, write in print letters if you know that your handwriting isn’t clear enough. Don’t use light ink that will blend with the paper.
Image credit: Flickr