What To Do If Wedding Guests Don’t RSVP – Methods That Work!

Planning your big day can be a tricky process, you have to account for so many factors such as how many chairs, meals, drinks to get. Knowing those numbers is essential to ordering and planning everything. What happens if guests don’t respond to your RSVP, what do you do?

The best way to get a response from someone who hasn’t returned the RSVP is to simply call them. You can try more subtle ways such as asking a question, sending an email or having a friend ask them. But with all your time constraints & deadlines, you do not want to be waiting around for a response. 

Though we don’t like to think that people we know and invited wouldn’t respond, it does happen. We all have those friends that are not the best at communication though they mean well.  They may just need a reminder or friendly nudge to jog their memory. 

However, there is a lot more to think about than simply this, which is why I’ve put together this article for you!

The RSVP is the key

With a thorough, detailed, well thought out RSVP it may eliminate the need to have to contact someone at all.

The RSVP is not just for knowing who is going to attend your wedding. It gives you the detailed information of what you need for all the vendors, lets you create the seating arrangements and even the lodging if need be.

Below are some helpful ways how you can politely remind guests to RSVP and get back to you in a timely fashion. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that RSVP is simply an abbreviation of ‘Répondez S’il Vous Plaît‘ which is French for please respond.

When should I send the RSVP and save the date?

Send your wedding invitations to all that are going to the wedding, six to eight weeks prior to your wedding date.

For the save the date notices, which are not always required, 12 weeks should be enough. You only send the save the dates to guests you are sure that you want to come.  This is a good amount of time for them to get their affairs in order and get to your wedding. 

International Guests and Destination Weddings 

International guests should be given an ample amount of time. Six to eight months out would be best, it often takes a lot to travel and set up arrangements.

To be kind, sending out an email or friendly message to them earlier would be even better.  This timeframe also goes for weddings that are at a destination other than where you reside. 

When Lea and I got married we told my family, who would be the ones flying in, about 10 months before the big day just to be on the safe side.

When should they return the cards by?

Four to five weeks out is the norm to get back a response. To get them to respond, so you don’t have to hassle them you want to make an effective card. This is more time-intensive upfront but will pay off when you don’t have to track people down. 

  • When making the cards, one which is handwritten tends to get a better response. 
  • To make sure they receive the RSVP cards check the address twice. It can be an annoyance for everyone involved if they never even receive the card.
  • Also, the wording is key, you want the guests to understand that a response is needed even if they are declining the invitation.
  •  To aid in response and engage your guests, ask them to write something on the cards like some personal advice on marriage.  You could even have them make a drawing to use as their place cards. 
  •  Make it different and stand out by switching the standard response options. Instead of yes or no have, “Definitely, see you there” or” Nope, sorry got plans.”  This is a fun way to get more engagement, but make sure it is clear and they don’t get confused.
  • You do not want to give a long time frame for the response.  You want them to feel the urgency of the card. 
  • Lastly, you want to give them options. In this day and age, the mail is not the quickest method of communication. By listing an email address, phone number and your website as a means to respond you will definitely improve your rate of response. If you do choose to use the mail, putting in a return envelope will help as well. 

This is just going to be a headache you need to minimize at much as possible. Sometimes you just know that there is a certain someone who is going to be trouble at your wedding, even though you actually want them there.

If this is the case for you, then you should probably read my articles which gives you tips on dealing with troublesome wedding guests, especially those who would forget to RSVP.

What are some methods to get them to respond? 

  1. Join the 21st Century-  Now many people want to stick with tradition and send out paper invitations, which is fine. You can do that for the elder guests, but for everyone else make e-cards. By doing this you can set up automatic reminders to be sent out to people if they have not responded. This takes the burden off you having to and the computer will do all the work. 
  1. Time Your Reminders – As with most things you need to be tactful when corresponding with people. Timing these reminders will give you a high rate of response without bothering the guests. You do not want to contact the person on the exact day the response is due. Three to four days after is acceptable. If you can up to a week, people may actually be trying to see if they can make it. 
  1. Cater to the individual- No matter which way to choose to send out invitations following up with them personally shows that you care. So, don’t use the group chats, mass emails, and group texts. This way no one is offended or embarrassed. Try to think of a talking point as well so it does not seem like this is the only reason you are contacting them (even though it is). 
  1. Just Call Them- Yes, we all love the text or voice message, but you want to be polite. The guests probably didn’t even know that they missed the deadline, these things happen. If you are very agitated, which you have every right to be, don’t let them hear your frustration. 
  1. Call Your Own Guests-  You want to call your friends/ family and your spouse calls theirs. This shows that you care and you can also relate to them better if they have a real issue and just didn’t forget. If it is a mutual friend whoever is closer will suffice.  
  1. Ask for Something-  “ Hey, you know that great song I wanted to play at my wedding, what was the name?,  Where did you get those/that plates, flowers, DJ, etc? “ This can be a reminder and show that you care about their opinion. It could actually be a real request such as a song that you can use. 
  1. Keep in Touch- This doesn’t mean you have to call them or text every day but just a hello and how are things. If you have to, talk about and show your excitement over the wedding. This will hopefully put it in their minds and you won’t have to bring it up directly. You should start this right away after you send the invites, you probably already know who is going to be the procrastinator. 
  1. Get Help- Your friends and family can be a valuable asset.  Usually, all you have to do is just ask. Most of the people that have not responded probably have friends in common with guests that have already responded to the RSVP. Just ask them to message or talk to that person, it is a nice roundabout way to do it without directly asking them. 
  1. Blame it on Tech- It is not the nicest way, but sometimes you just want an answer if you have been waiting a long time.  you could send a cold sounds email that basically just asks if they are coming. At the bottom of it put “This is an automated message from___”

What if we have an uninvited guest? Or someone brings a plus one? 

If you are asking this question, you probably have a situation or person in mind. The best thing to do would stop it before it happens.

Call multiple times if need be to get a straight answer from the person you. If you don’t trust them, then you can plan for it by having a spare seat and meal.

Expected or unexpected,  the courteous thing to do is to welcome them and make it work. You don’t want to make a scene or even stress about it. Most venues will have extra setting arrangements and caterers usually prepare a certain amount of meals for extra guests that may show up. 

Again, check out my article on dealing with difficult wedding guests.

What to do if they add a name on the RSVP and you didn’t have that option? 

Call them right away, let them know whether you can accommodate them or not. Do not feel obligated to meet their request.

It is your wedding and you have figured out who you want there and what you can afford. If you make special one exception, there will be many more requests and feelings of others may be hurt later. 

This happened to us and unfortunately, Lea caved and we were down one important seat which is a lot when you are on a tight budget.

How many times do I ask?

The initial RSVP, a follow up and the final call. Three should suffice, you don’t want to be bending over backward for someone who doesn’t have the decency to answer. 

What if my wedding isn’t formal? 

While you may not want to, this isn’t a time to be nonchalant. You want to make sure that you have all the numbers so you can organize your venue and food. Formal and concise wording is the only way to get this done. 

Phil & Lea Hawes

We are Phil & Lea Hawes and we got married in 2019. We have planned (mainly Lea) two weddings together. The first was a small ceremony in Hong Kong just for us and our parents at a registry office. Our other wedding was a larger family wedding in Taiwan. Having planned two very different types of weddings and dealt with all the demands and hiccups which come with it, we are uniquely qualified as a writing team to give sound advice to other couples embarking on their own wedding journey.

Recent Posts