The Ultimate RSVP Guide for Modern Couples


So you’ve chosen a wedding venue, locked in a date, and you’re ready to send out those invites. But first, you’ll need to wrap your head around the daunting RSVP process!

From setting a realistic RSVP deadline to managing your guests, we’re here to answer all of your burning questions below. Keep reading as we share the ultimate RSVP guide for modern couples, including everything you need to know for a seamless, stress-free experience.

Photo by The Happy Bloom

What Does RSVP Mean?

The term “RSVP” was originally coined from the French expression “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which translates to “please respond”. Simply put, it’s a request for your guests to confirm or decline their attendance.

Collecting RSVPs is an essential part of the wedding planning process. It goes without saying that you’ll need to know exactly who’s joining you on the day so you can manage your budget, finalise your invoices, confirm any dietary requirements and create a seating plan for your event.

With this being said, collecting and tracking RSVPs is often regarded as one of the most stressful elements of wedding planning altogether! This can be due to late responses, or guests misunderstanding the correct RSVP etiquette. It’s important to manage your RSVPs properly from the very beginning to avoid any headaches closer to the day.

Photo by Kostis Mouselimis

What Are The Different Options For Returning RSVPs?

So how can you best manage your RSVPs? Let’s talk first about the different options when it comes to sending and receiving RSVPs from your guests. These include:

  • Physical RSVPs: Traditionally, paper wedding invitations would be sent to each guest with a separate RSVP card and pre-addressed envelope. An RSVP card typically includes space for guests to fill in their name/s and RSVP response, along with confirming their menu choice or outlining any dietary requirements. Guests are required to complete the RSVP card and post it back to the hosts.
  • Digital RSVPs: These days, paperless invitations and digital RSVPs are becoming more and more popular. A digital invitation is sent directly to your guest’s email, and they can RSVP in the click of a button. Some digital invitations (including the ones offered here at WedSites!) also give you the option to store your guest’s details in an online database, and follow up with late RSVPs automatically on your behalf.
  • Wedding websites: Wedding websites are another great tool to help you facilitate your RSVPs. You can still send out traditional paper invitations, but instead of including a separate RSVP card, simply include the link to your wedding website. Your guests can then visit your wedding website and follow the prompts to enter their RSVP response and any additional details as needed.

The right RSVP method will depend on your personality type, wedding style, and priorities for the day. No matter which method you choose, it’s crucial to have a system in place to manage and store your guests’ responses so you can easily keep track of who’s attending! If you’re looking for an easier way to stay organised and simplify the process, going digital with your RSVPs might be the perfect option for you. 

Photo by Feather and Twine

How Should You Word Your RSVPs?

Your RSVP message should be super simple for guests to understand. Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible for your loved ones to RSVP without any confusion!

At the most basic level, your RSVP message needs to include:

  • A request for a response
  • The RSVP due date
  • A “yes” or “no” response option

Your RSVP message may also include:

  • Pre-selection of menu choices
  • Request for dietary requirements
  • A blank space to confirm the name of a plus one (if offered)
  • “Just for fun” requests such as a dance floor song suggestion or piece of marriage advice

Your RSVP message can also be worded to reflect the vision you have in mind for your wedding. If you’re planning a formal wedding, you may want to use more traditional language with a refined tone of voice. Alternatively, if you’re planning a more relaxed, casual affair, you can inject some playfulness and humour! The wording you choose for your RSVP requests should stay consistent with the style of wording used on your wedding invitations and wedding website, too.

As an example, a formal RSVP message could look like this:

Your reply is requested
by November twenty-fifth, two thousand and twenty
-Accepts with pleasure
-Declines with regret

While an informal RSVP message could look like this:

We hope you can join us!
Please RSVP by 9.10.20
-Will celebrate in person!
-Will celebrate in spirit!

Draw inspiration from your wedding style and vision to help you set the right tone in your RSVP requests. Remember, this is often the first communication between you and your guests, so let them know what kind of party they can expect!

Photo by Alexandra Elise

How Much Time Should You Give Guests to RSVP?

Your RSVP timeline will directly influence your stress levels closer to the day (trust us!). You’ll want to consider this carefully to ensure you receive your RSVPs promptly. 

Setting the right deadline can be a delicate balance – if you give your guests too much time, they may procrastinate without a sense of urgency. But if you don’t allow enough time, you’ll be panicking to finalise your wedding plans closer to the day.

As a general guide, you’ll want to send your wedding invitations at the 6-8 week mark, and set your RSVP due date 3-4 weeks before the day. This will give your guests enough time to respond, while also giving you some extra wriggle room to chase down those last-minute responses.

If you’re planning a destination wedding, you’ll want to adjust your RSVP timeline accordingly so both you and your guests can prepare for the trip. In this case, send your invitations as early as possible with an RSVP deadline at least 8 weeks before the day.

Our top tip? Automate this process! Opt for an online RSVP tracker that follows up with guests on your behalf. Not only will this give you one less thing to worry about, but it should also help you avoid any late responses. You can find 5 proven hacks for getting your guests to RSVP on time here!

Photo by Nancy Ebert

How to RSVP to a Wedding Invitation (For Guests)

On the flip side, how do you RSVP to a wedding invitation correctly as a guest? It may seem like a simple task, but you’ll want to keep these etiquette tips in mind before responding:

  • Follow the instructions. It’s really important to RSVP exactly as the couple has requested! If they’ve sent you a physical RSVP card, don’t respond via text. Or, if they’ve sent you a digital invitation, don’t respond with a letter! Following the instructions laid out by the couple will help them keep everyone’s details together in one place. 
  • Do it sooner rather than later. If possible, RSVP as soon as you receive the invitation to ensure you don’t forget. Or, if you’re not entirely sure whether you can attend, keep the couple updated with an expected RSVP date based on your circumstances.
  • Be respectful. Don’t ask for a plus one if you haven’t been offered one, or to bring your kids when the couple has stated a child-free wedding. Remember, this is their special day, and their wishes need to be respected.

Looking for more RSVP tips? Read these 5 RSVP nightmares to expect while planning a wedding (and exactly how to deal with them!).