You’ve planned your wedding down to the very last detail. Any and every slight minutia has been taken care of. The last thing you want is unexpected guests ruining your perfect ceremony seating, your beautiful pre-planned seating chart, or throwing off the number of beef and chicken entrees. For that reason, most brides now choose to include RSVP cards or response cards along with their wedding invitations when they are sent out. Sounds easy enough, right? But what are the dos and don’ts of response cards?
DO Keep Track of Wedding Invitations Responses
Miss Manners may look down on including RSVP cards in your wedding invitations, but then again, Miss Manners isn’t paying for your wedding. (And if we all listened to Miss Manners, your guests would all be sending RSVPs on their own personal stationary anyway.) Response card wording etiquette isn’t as strict as with wedding invitations. Simply leave a space for the names of the guests and include check boxes for whether they will or will not attend. After that, the sky’s the limit as to how you word it.
DON’T Assume Everyone has Perfect Handwriting
While you may have painstakingly written out all of your wedding invitations in perfect calligraphy, not everyone has the greatest handwriting. You may not be able to read some of your guests’ “fancy” responses, so cover your bases. Number each name on your guest list and lightly place that number on the back or corner of the response card. This way, if you can’t figure out the guests’ handwriting, you can simply check the number on the back of the card and match it to the corresponding guest on your list.
DO Make it Easy to Send Back Response Cards
You don’t want to leave anything to chance, so make it easy for guests to respond by pre-printing your name and address and putting a stamp on the RSVP card envelope. Traditionally, the RSVP card should be addressed to the host of the wedding (i.e. your parents), but if you are hosting the wedding yourself, or you live a long way away from the host, you will need to come up with an appropriate response label. Traditionally speaking, the names of the bride and groom should not appear together in print until after the wedding; if the couple is living together before the wedding, the RSVP cards should be addressed to the bride only.
DO Limit Your Number of Guests
If you have a strict budget that you are sticking to, or want to subtly let guests know that you don’t want kids or their random dates at your wedding, there are a few ways you can do this on your wedding invitations’ response cards. Include a line on the response card that says __ of __ guests will attend. You can then fill in the second blank with how many guests are invited. If this seems too tacky for you, include check boxes for 1 or 2 guests to limit the number of uninvited tag-alongs. This makes it seem like everybody is only allowed 1 guest, and you can always print separate response cards for large families in which you just leave a blank for the number of guests they will be bringing.
DO Include an RSVP Deadline for Response Cards
Most venues or caterers require a definite headcount of how many guests will be attending your ceremony/reception, and if you are making wedding favors, seating charts, programs or menus, you may need to know too. Find out when you or others need to know your final headcount by (usually it’s about two weeks before the wedding), and then set your RSVP deadline at least two weeks before that. You will always have procrastinators on your guest list that will put off sending their RSVP to the very last day (maybe they’re still looking for a date?), so you will be relieved to have a buffer between the RSVP deadline on your wedding invitation response cards and the deadline when you actually need to know.
DON’T Wait for Late RSVP Cards to Come to You
With the amount of time and money that you are putting into your wedding, you shouldn’t have to guess when it comes to the final headcount. Most guests will understand that, and will send back their response card in a reasonable time span. However, RSVP cards could get lost, or maybe your forgetful Aunt Sally simply didn’t remember to send it in. Don’t wait for these guests’ response cards to come to you! If you haven’t received an RSVP by your deadline, go ahead and give them a call. There’s no need to be rude about it, just make sure they have received the invitation, and then confirm that they are coming. If you can’t reach a guest, go ahead and assume that they will come. After all, it’s better to have an empty seat than have a guest with nowhere to sit.