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RSVP Etiquette; A Primer for Wedding Guests

Posted in: Etiquette, Wedding Planning Advice
RSVP Etiquette; A Primer for Wedding Guests

This is the first blog I’ve done that is really targeting advice to wedding guests.  And, I encourage all recently engaged couples to post this on their social media as a suttle way to get this to their potential invite list as a hint on what you expect with your RSVP’s.

It’s been an unwelcomed trend lately;  guests either not sending back a response to let you know that they either are or aren’t attending, guests sending back RSVP’s and adding either plus ones (or in one bride’s case plus 7)  OR sending an RSVP that they would be attending, then calling the week of your wedding to say “sorry, we can’t come”.   One couple had about 5 people from one side of the family call the week of the wedding stating that, if it rained, they would attend, but if it didn’t they had a High School football game to attend and wouldn’t be able to make it even though they RSVP’d only a few weeks prior (and they certainly had that schedule in hand when they sent their RSVP) .  In another instance an entire table (of 12 guests) called to say that even though they RSVP’d, they wouldn’t be attending.

Okay..if you have a good excuse like a sudden illness (or god forbid death) , that is excusable.  But simply changing your mind or knowing your possible schedule conflict and RSVP’g yes, then giving a no at the last minute is not.  Not respecting the RSVP is outright rude and inconsiderate . It causes unneeded and unwanted stress, not to mention weddings are not cheap and you are costing them money when you don’t follow RSVP ettiquette advice I’m about to give you.  So, here it is:

1. Be grateful you made the list. I often meet couples that struggle between wanting everyone they know and care about attending their wedding and having the wedding they want on a tight budget.  Sometimes they have to sacrafice who they want to invite in order to accomodate their budget, their venue of choice or both.  If you were invited  it means you made the cut and that you are considered the most important of all the people they know and love to have received the invitation.  This doesn’t mean you have to attend by any means, but at the very least you should thank the couple for the invitation and give them a response which brings me to #2.

2. Honor the RSVP date.  So much goes into planning a wedding and part of putting all the details and costs together is knowing what your final guest count will be. This determines so much like the final count for the caterer, how big the wedding cake needs to be, how many favors to buy, how much alcohol they need (if the liquor at the facility is going to be provided by the couple) and many other things.  The date on the RSVP card means that, in order to have all the elements together (and monies paid) the couple needs to know the final guests count by that date.  Once they receive that, they begin the final touches and buying and arranging for all those things.  And one of the hardest parts is plotting the seating arrangments.  When you RSVP late, you throw a monkey wrench into the well crafted, well thought out and often long hours  (yes hours) the couple mulled over the floor plan.  Don’t be that person..get your RSVP’s in on time.

3. Even if you’re not attending, let the couple know. They really do need to know that you are a “no” because if they don’t hear from you they may wonder, did they get the invitation?  Did they just forget to RSVP? Also, this couple may have a “B” list  – if you can’t attend, there is a spot open for someone else the couple would like to spend their special day with.  The sooner you RSVP , the better.

4. Don’t Say You’re Attending if you are unsure and may cancel later.  If there is something more important or pressing that may arise for you that day, but you aren’t sure, you really need to make a decision and let the couple know. Most  facilities do not let couples reduce their guests lists once the finals are tallied (for several good reasons).  If you RSVP in the affirmative, then cancel at the last minute you will be costing the couple some money and it’s not chump change;  costing anywhere from $80 on up per person. Not to mention, you also took a spot that maybe could have been filled by someone the couple wanted to invite, but was limited by either space or budget.

5. Don’t add guests that weren’t named on the invitation to the RSVP .  I have one couple who had a very long list of invites. They didn’t expect to get as many yeses as they did (many invited live out of state and even out of country).  With all their yeses, they are pretty much at the maximum capacity  that the venue can hold, not to mention probably over their original budget.  So, imagine the stress this couple is feeling as they receive an RSVP from invited guest that added seven.. yes, 7 names to the RSVP

This is wrong for so many reasons.  Bottom line,  if your invitation says Mr & Mrs.  so and so it doesnt mean you AND you your children.  Couples will list ALL those within the household that are invited on the invitation.  If their names do not appear, they are not invited. This also goes for the single person. If the invite doesn’t say plus one, you can not bring a plus one .  If there is any doubt or question as to whether you can bring someone or maybe you felt someone was overlooked (like your children) , call the couple and ask.  I promise you, they won’t bite and they’ll appreciate that you were considerate enough to ask rather than assume or worse yet, add them yourself.

Giving these guests the  benefit of the doubt, maybe they just  didn’t know or understand that what they did is/was rude and inconsiderate for the simple fact that they just don’t know what goes into planning a wedding and creating a guest list.   Consider this blog your education on just how important the RSVP’s are. You are now officially “in the know”.