Attending the wedding of a loved one is always an exciting time. But remember: being a wedding guest comes with its own set of etiquette and expectations, especially when it concerns RSVPs!
Responding to a wedding invitation will be one of your very first duties as a wedding guest. And, it’s an important one – because on the other side of each invitation is a couple trying to finalize their numbers, create a seating plan and confirm their budget before the big day.
If you’re looking for some guidance when it comes to navigating the RSVP process, we’re here to help. From RSVP cards to digital invites and wedding websites, keep reading for our tips on how to RSVP to a wedding invitation while being a gold star guest.
What Does RSVP Actually Mean?
The word RSVP is derived from the French phrase “Répondez s’il vous plaît”, which simply translates to “please respond”. When you RSVP to a wedding invitation, you’re confirming either your attendance or non-attendance on the day.
Requesting and tracking RSVPs allows a couple to confirm their guest numbers and use this information to finalize everything from catering and furniture hire to place cards and seating charts. An RSVP request may also be used to confirm important details like meal selections, dietary preferences and plus-ones, too.
RSVP Etiquette: Everything You Need to Know
Guest numbers and preferences play a huge role in wedding planning, why is why so many couples say the RSVP process can actually be a serious headache! If you want to be the best kind of wedding guest, you’ll want to make sure you RSVP promptly and correctly while considering etiquette and expectations.
You can help to make the RSVP process smooth and stress-free for the couple by keeping these tips in mind:
- RSVP as soon as possible. Regardless of whether you’ve been invited to the wedding of a best friend or distant relative, you should always respond to a wedding invitation well before the due date. Trust us: you don’t want to be THAT guest who needs to be chased down with multiple reminders! Instead of procrastinating or unintentionally forgetting, we recommend actioning your RSVP as soon as you receive your wedding invitation.
- Don’t request a plus one. If you’ve been allocated a plus one, your invitation will include the words “and Guest” or “+1” after your name. If your invitation doesn’t include these words, it’s safe to assume you haven’t been offered a plus one. In this scenario, don’t ask the couple if you’re allowed to bring a guest – instead, be courteous and understanding. Due to budget and venue restrictions, it simply may not be viable to offer plus ones to single guests.
Of course, if you think there may be a genuine mistake – for example, if your long-term partner or husband/wife is missing from the invitation, a polite text is completely okay.
- Don’t substitute your plus one, either! If your invitation includes the name of your partner but they are unable to attend, don’t go ahead and invite another guest in their place. If a name has been specified, it’s because the couple wants that particular person to attend.
- Don’t RSVP unless you’re 100% sure you can/can’t attend. Once you respond to the couple, they’ll go ahead and slot you into the seating chart, pay for your meal and make any other necessary arrangements. So if you’re not totally sure you can make it just yet, hold off from responding until you do (but keep the couple in the loop until you can confirm your attendance either way!).
- Be mindful of kids. If the couple has clearly specified the wedding is going to be a child-free event, it’s important to respect their decision. Don’t kick up a fuss or ask for an exception (unless, of course, you have a newborn – in which case most couples will be completely understanding!).
- Follow instructions. Make sure you read the invitation carefully and follow the steps outlined by the couple. For example: if they’ve requested that you RSVP via their wedding website, don’t send them a text. If they’ve asked for the full name of your plus one, don’t use a nickname. It’s important to follow the instructions provided to avoid confusion or extra work for the couple!
Etiquette on point? Now let’s run through the different RSVP response options you may need to know.
How To RSVP: Physical Invitations
If you’ve received a traditional invitation in the post, it may come with a separate “RSVP card” and pre-addressed envelope. The RSVP card will either include a pre-printed template with specific questions, or be left blank for you to write your own response message.
If the RSVP card has a pre-printed template:
In this situation, all you need to do is fill in the blank areas and/or tick the boxes requested by the couple. Generally, this will include details like:
- Your name(s)
- Your RSVP response: attending or not attending
- Number of guests attending
- Meal preferences
- Dietary requirements
- “Just for fun” questions like dance floor requests or marriage advice.
A couple of things to keep in mind as you complete these details are:
- Use both your first and last name(s) to avoid confusion – especially if it’s a large wedding!
- Follow the formatting outlined on the RSVP card. Some more traditional/formal RSVP cards may include a pre-printed “M” before the name line. This is simply a prompt to include your title before your name – for example, “Mrs Sally Smith”.
- If the RSVP card includes “just for fun” questions, make the effort to answer them! While they might not be necessary to confirm your attendance, the couple obviously wants to involve you in their celebration.
If the RSVP card is blank:
A blank RSVP card will require you to write your own personal response. This should be a couple of brief sentences to confirm your name(s), attendance/non-attendance, and any other details requested in the RSVP instructions.
When it comes to wording your response, be guided by the tone of the invitation (formal/informal) and your relationship with the couple.
A formal response example would be:
“Mr Harry Smith and Mrs Sally Smith accept with pleasure (or: regret they are unable to accept) your kind invitation for Saturday, 21st September”
While an informal response example could look like:
“Thank you for your invitation, we will both be happily attending! Looking forward to it. Love, Sally and Harry Smith”
“Thank you for your invitation, sadly we are both unable to attend due to other commitments. So sorry we can’t be there – wishing you an amazing day! Love, Sally and Harry Smith”
How To RSVP: Digital Invitations
If no RSVP card is provided, or you’ve received a digital invitation, it’s likely the couple have left instructions on how to RSVP online. This will usually be via a wedding website or a specified email address.
How to RSVP via a wedding website:
Simply type in the URL from the wedding invitation and follow the prompts. Usually, this will direct you to an RSVP page including the same questions you would typically receive in a traditional RSVP card. Be sure to fill in all of the requested areas before clicking the “send” or “confirm” button. While you’re on the wedding website, you can also take a look around to learn more about things like venue directions, transportation options and a schedule for the day.
How to RSVP via email:
If the couple has asked you to RSVP via email, simply respond using the same kind of message you would for a blank RSVP card. Don’t forget to use (and double-check) the correct email address provided on the invitation, even if you have a different email address on file. Many couples will create a separate email address for their RSVPs to keep all of the responses in one convenient place.
Be a Gold Star Guest
Remember, responding to a wedding invitation correctly and promptly is one of the best ways to help out the happy couple! Simply keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to being a stellar wedding guest.
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