Knowing how many people to expect at your wedding is a key to your planning in terms of space, expenses, and guest comfort. Wedding experts tell us that fewer people are doing an RSVP response, making it difficult for brides to plan and control expenses. Here are ideas of what you can do to increase your responses.
Reduce Misunderstanding About RSVP Response
You know the initials. RSVP. They stand for the French phrase “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” which literally means “respond if you please.” Today, invitations that include an RSVP come with the expectation that guests will respond to accept or decline the invitation, but many guests do no respond at all.
Change the wording from RSVP to “Please Respond” or “Please Respond By (DATE)” to avoid confusion and prompt people to respond. There is less chance the guest will misunderstand your request when your clearly state the expected action
Remind Your Guests Why Their RSVP Response Matters
Guest response is a practical matter for you, but few guests consider why you need their response and the impact on your planning.
Add a gentle reminder to your RSVP card:
“We’ll be embarrassed if we don’t have enough for everyone, so please respond to this invitation promptly.”
“Seating is limited, so please respond so we can reserve your space”
“We need to prepare for everyone in advance, please respond.”
“Please respond to reserve your slice of the wedding cake. We’ve had the taste test and it is incredible.”
“We’re so excited and can’t wait for your response. Please respond NOW, before you forget.”
Adding a note of humor and scarcity will often generate more responses. The last two responses are a sure way to get attention, (even from those who don’t want cake).
Arrange information Clearly on Your RSVP Response Card
If there is too much or confusing wording, your guests might misinterpret the purpose of your invitation and their need to respond.
Limit your invitation and RSV cards to only necessary information, such as names, location, time and date. You may also include menu choices, if needed; If ancillary information is not important to the response, include it on a separate sheet, or even better on your wedding website.
Set a Deadline for RSVP Responses
People receive your invitation, set it aside until later, and then often forget or fail to respond.
Keep your response time frame short. This will encourage guests to get their responses back to you rather than putting them off, which often results in them not responding at all.
Draw attention to the RSVP deadline on your invitation so that it can’t be missed!
Use an eye-catching design or character to draw attention to your deadline. An arrow pointing to the date is a universal sign that the information is important. You can find arrows in elegant fonts to keep with the theme of your invitation.
If you are printing your own RSVP cards, consider printing the response date in a bright color with a border around it to draw attention.
Use all caps, italics, underlining, or special font for the date when you need a response.
Verify Your Contact Information Twice
You are not receiving any response – Yikes!
A simple typo or outdated auto-fill settings could result in responses not reaching you. Check and double check your contact information before you send your invitations. It is best to have some else check it too. If you do find an error after sending, act quickly to resolve it, inform guests of the change and offer sincere apologies.
Send invitations out well in advance
People already have something planned
Ideally invitations should be sent six to eight weeks before the wedding with a RSVP deadline three to four weeks later.
Send paper or email request for your guests to “save the date.” They are generally send six to eight months before the wedding (longer for destination weddings) and will improve the chances of your wedding making it on calendars but won’t necessarily increase your RSVP response rate. If someone comments that they received your “save the date” and plan to attend, or cannot make it, make a note on your guest list. If they have already responded negatively, there is no need to follow up if they do not respond.
Do a test run before sending out your invitations. Know, don’t just believe, everything is in working.
Timing When Sending Your Invites for Optimal RSVP Response
People misplace or did not receive your invitation.
Avoid sending invitations close to holidays or at times when you know people are particularly busy.
Offer RSVP Response Options
The more options you give guests for ways to response, the more responses you are likely to receive.
Review your guest list carefully and make a notation as to what method your guests are most likely to respond. Be sure to include the top choices in your response methods.
Some guests may prefer communicating electronically, others prefer traditional methods.
Traditional RSVP Response Options
If you are requesting paper responses, be sure to include a stamped pre-addressed envelope. You may find this to be expensive, and a waste when people do not respond, but most people simply will not take the time to locate a stamp to return your RSVP.
While strict etiquette requires a written response to a written invitation, now is not the time to stand on tradition. You need answers. Provide a telephone number and name, email address or wedding website email address for these guests to use in case if they prefer or forget to mail.
For calls, if you have voice mail, encourage guests to leave a message. Be sure to change your voice response message to prompt for the information you need. Then check your messages often, record the information and delete the message so no one will reach a full mailbox.
Electronic RSVP Response Options
Response rates are normally higher when people can respond electronically, but you must make it convenient for the guest.
Offer electronic response options, including email, text message, your wedding website, or even a google form for guests to respond. Provide response addresses clearly so it is easy for guests to respond.
If you are sending electronic invitations to personal email addresses, send them on a weekday evening, or other times when people are likely to be home and checking email.
If you are using a work address, emails at the beginning of the day or immediately following lunch get the most attention.
Use the “Important” designation on your email to get attention. You can also get a notification when to see if people opened your email.
If you are using a special “wedding email” address be sure to notify guests in advance so they will be on the lookout for your invitation.
Allow people to respond by hitting reply. Most already know if they will attend when they receive your invitation, so make it easy for them to respond immediately and your response rates will soar.
Some experts recommend sending your electronic invitations very early in the day or late at night. Your invitation will have a higher chance at being at the top of your guests’ inbox, making it more visible.
Offer guests an off-line option just in case some don’t have regular online access.
Send a Gift With Your RSVP Response Card
People forget before they reply.
By including a small trinket/reminder gift with your invite, you can increase the rate at which your guests RSVP. Your gift doesn’t have to be extravagant for you to enjoy this effect. With a paper invitation, you might include:
- A piece of string to tie around their finger as a reminder
- A Post-It note for their bathroom mirror
- For electronic invitations, include the option to automatically add the response date to their calendar.
Offer a Bribe for Guests’ RSVP Response
You know your friends, and they probably won’t respond
A fun way to get people to respond is to add an offer in your invitation that says something like “First 50 people to respond will be entered in a drawing for – now you add the prize”. It could be a bottle of wine, a gift certificate, special seating at the reception, reserved parking, whatever your guests will enjoy and get them to respond.
Be sure you follow up and conduct the drawing either at your reception on in advance if you need to notify the guest of their win. Also announce the winner at your reception. Great fun for everyone.
“Regrets Only” – RSVP Response Not Required
If you are considering a “regrets only” response, reconsider
Don’t. People who receive “regrets only” are no better at (and often worse) than responding to a traditional RSVP. You will not get a better count with “regrets only”, and will probably end up with lots of leftovers if you are using your response numbers for seating and caterers.
Ask for Participation on Your RSVP Response Card
Many brides are seeing increased response rates when asking guests to list a favorite song or their favorite memory of the bride and groom. It will take a little time, but you can compile lists, use in your decorations, or adjust your song list to include some of these items. Guests love the feeling they are participating in the wedding even before the big day.
Accept No Graciously
When people are kind enough to RSVP and their answer is no, accept it without questioning the reason or asking whether they won’t reconsider. Resist the urge to ask why. There could be a million reasons, and many they do not want to share. When someone cannot attend and does not offer an explanation, the most gracious thing is to say, “You’ll be missed”.
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