How and when an invitation and RSVP is sent makes a difference. As does whether the guests respond on time or at all.
Most people are unaware of proper RSVP etiquette, says wedding planner Tessa Brand, of Tessa Lyn Events, which is why she’s so passionate about the subject. Proper RSVP etiquette followed by the host as well as the guests helps finalize the guest list and ensures a smooth wedding planning process.
With Tessa’s advice, this etiquette guide gives the final word on wedding RSVP wording, when to send wedding RSVP cards, what to include in them, what not to include in them, how to address them, and what to do when guests forget to RSVP.
You’ll also find fun and creative wedding RSVP wording ideas. For guests, we help eliminate any questions with information on how to fill out wedding RSVP cards without frustrating the host.
Read the entire wedding RSVP etiquette guide or skip to a section below:
- What Does RSVP Mean On An Invitation Card?
- When to Send Wedding RSVP Cards
- What to Include on a Wedding RSVP Card
- Creative and Fun RSVP Wording Ideas
- Wedding RSVP Card Wording Examples
- How to Address Wedding RSVP Cards
- For the Wedding Guest: How to Fill out a Wedding RSVP Card
An RSVP card kindly asks your invitees to “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” which is where the four letters from R.S.V.P. come from. “Répondez, s’il vous plaît,” means “please reply” in French. This English adapted abbreviation stands for the signal for a requested response from guests.
Timeline: When to Send Wedding RSVP Cards
When should the host mail out wedding RSVP cards? Eight weeks before the wedding date.
A wedding RSVP postcard or card is mailed out along with the official wedding invitation, which is sent six to eight weeks before the big day.
How far before the wedding should the RSVP reply date be? Three to four weeks before the wedding date.
Do you ever not send an RSVP card with your wedding invitation? You don’t need to send out RSVP cards if you’re hosting a ceremony-only wedding.
Follow this checklist before sending out your response cards.
Wedding RSVP Card Checklist
- Pick your wedding day design scheme. An RSVP wedding card is a piece of the wedding stationery suite, along with the main invitation and any enclosure cards, if they apply. As such, couples choose wedding invitations and RSVP card sets that match the design scheme of their wedding day.
- Finalize your guest list. You need a complete and final wedding guest list before you can mail out your cards. Remember, if you’re hosting a ceremony-only wedding, RSVP cards are not required.
- Confirm your reception dinner menu. Your wedding response card can also include a choice of entrees for your guests to pick from. But before you can add this to your card, you will need to decide upon your catering company and the final menu for your wedding day.
- Pick an RSVP reply date: Set a date for three to four weeks before the date of your wedding when you’d like invitees to reply by.
- Choose your wedding cards and stationery. With both a wedding guest list and your design scheme finalized, you can shop for the perfect wedding stationery that reflects your unique vision for your big day.
What to Include in a Wedding RSVP Card
A proper wedding RSVP card requires the following information:
- A blank line for the guests to fill out their names. Your guest will use this space to write in their name as well as the name(s) of a spouse, a date, or children who will also be attending the wedding. You will be relying on this information to create your final guest list and create table place cards.
- The RSVP reply due date. Use a date three to four weeks before the wedding date.
- The “will attend” line. Short and simple, this phrase can say anything along the lines of “Yes, I will attend your wedding.” These are the final people you add to your guest list.
- The “unable to attend” line. Although disappointing, use this information to cut down your guest list and reduce your wedding expenses. (Blessing in disguise?)
- Choice of entrées. Entrée selections should be placed on response cards for weddings offering meal choices at the reception.
What not to include in a wedding response card? Information about the registry. It’s never proper to include registry information in the main wedding invitation or on the wedding response card.
Expert Wedding Planning Tip: How to Decode the Mystery Wedding Guest
“Many guests forget to write their names on the response cards, which leaves a couple wondering who the mystery guests is,” says Tessa. “Use an invisible black light ink marker ($5 on Amazon) to write the guests’ initials on the back of each RSVP card. In the event that a card comes back blank, use your black light to discover the mystery guest.”
Wedding RSVP Card Wording Examples
Here are three varieties of standard wedding RSVP wording.
Wedding RSVP Card with Pre-Addressed and Stamped Envelopes
Kindly Respond by
the twenty-second of September
___Accepts with Pleasure ___Declines with Regrets
Wedding RSVP Card with Entrée Options
The Favor of your response is requested by
the twelfth of February
___ Joyfully Accepts ___ Regretfully Declines
Please initial the meal choice for each guest
_____ Cabernet Filet Mignon
____ Baked Salmon Filet
____ Quinoa with Tempeh
Wedding RSVP Card for Phone or Email Responses
___ Will Attend ___ Unable to Attend
Kindly Respond by
the seventeenth of December
Creative and Fun Wedding RSVP Wording Ideas
If you want, you can have a little fun with your wedding RSVP card wording. Add humor to your cards with these whimsical phrases.
Replace the expected line “accepts with pleasure,” with:
- Two words … free booze.
- I’ll be there with bells on.
- Yes, I am ready to attack the dance floor.
“Declines with regret,” can be replaced with:
- Will cheers from afar.
- No, and I’ll forever regret this decision.
- Will be there in spirit.
How to Address Wedding RSVP Cards
Follow these tips on the proper way to address your wedding RSVP cards:
- Always pre-address and stamp the envelopes. As part of the wedding stationery suite, wedding response cards come with their own matching envelopes, which should be pre-addressed and stamped. This also applies if you’re sending out a wedding RSVP postcard.
- Consider the formality and style of your wedding day. Address your cards according to the formality and theme of your wedding day, just as you would address your wedding invitation envelopes.
- Pick the right return address. There’s many reasons the return address for your RSVP cards might not match the return address for your main invitation. The return address you use for your response cards should be the address of the person in charge of collecting your replies. Whether it’s the bride, groom, or a designated family member, this person knows they’re responsible for gathering the cards and keeping track of the final guest list. The return address for your main wedding invitation, however, should be the host’s address and/or the place you want your gifts to end up.
- Don’t forget the stamp. A pre-addressed and stamped RSVP card envelope is not only a courteous gesture, but also helpful to you. With a stamp included, guests are more likely to drop the card in the mail on time before the RSVP date. To stay in harmony with your wedding day scheme, use the same stamp you place on your main invitation.
Proper Etiquette When Guests Fail to Provide RSVP Reply by the Due Date
What happens when a guest doesn’t RSVP to your wedding? According to Tessa, a couple should wait one week after the due date before calling the guests for a verbal response.
While your close friends and family are likely to respond immediately, not everyone has the same enthusiasm or focus. But it doesn’t mean they’re not excited about your wedding!
Most of the time, people simply forget to mail the RSVP reply or the card gets lost in the mail.
If a guest misses the RSVP date, grant them a one-week grace period. After seven days, give them a call. A friendly call is enough to get an accurate head count for your wedding day and keep everyone happy.
For the Wedding Guest: How to Fill out a Wedding RSVP Card
If no one’s ever walked you through it before, filling out wedding response cards can be confusing for guests.
If you’re perplexed by this small piece of stationery, don’t worry. This list of dos and don’ts for an RSVP reply card will ensure that your card reaches its destination without breaching etiquette or missing key information.
Wedding RSVP Etiquette for How to Fill Out a Response Card
- Include full names. If attending, write the titles and full names of all invited guests next to the “M” on the response card. Don’t forget to include the full name of your plus one so that the host can get a proper head count and create a personal name card for your guest. If you’re not attending, you can skip this part, or use the space to write a kind note to the bride and groom.
- Write legibly. The bride and groom rely on your RSVP card to create a master guest list, so make sure they can read your writing.
- Don’t include the names of uninvited guests. Invited guests are listed on the main wedding invitation envelope. If the invitation envelope does not indicate a plus one, don’t add one. If your children’s names are not written on the invitation envelope or you see the words “adults only,” on the invitation, they are not invited.
- If filling out entrée options, write down the initials of each guest next to the option they want. If you have a major allergy such as nuts or shellfish, it’s a good idea to include this information here.
- Send out the RSVP card ASAP. Mailing your RSVP card on time shows not only respect to the host but also enthusiasm for the big day ahead. If they’ve included a stamp, drop it in the mail shortly after receiving the invitation.
- Make sure to follow proper wedding guest etiquette both before, during, and after the wedding! And don’t forget to pick out the perfect wedding gift beforehand.
What Does “M” Stand for in Wedding RSVP Cards?
The “M” stands for the first letter to Ms., Mr., or Mrs. on a wedding response card. You are then able to fill in the rest of the initials for your particular title, along with your full name and the name of your guest (if you have any). For example, some lines may be filled out as
- Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
- Ms. Jane Pearson and Mr. Jason Brown
- Ms. Angela Branford
How To RSVP By Email
If the hosting bride and groom have included an email address for you to utilize for your response, it’s fine to use it instead of the response card. If you choose to RSVP by Email, you should keep the email short, formal, and to the point. Title the email “(Last Name) Wedding RSVP: (Number of People Confirming) Will/Will Not Be Attending.” You should then reconfirm the information in the body of the email. Make sure to include:
- You and your date’s full name and titles
- Whether or not you will be attending
- Dinner preference (if given the option)
- A Thank You for the Invitation
- A Sign Off
Personalized Wedding RSVP Cards
To go or not to go? That is the question friends and family must answer when they receive a wedding invitation in the mail.
Inserted with the invitation is a wedding RSVP card, or response card, an important piece of stationery that allows guests to do just that.
Shutterfly offers matching wedding invitations and RSVP card sets for a stunning package that reflects your vision for your big day. Along with styles and themes, our RSVP cards can be personalized with unique text and your choice of trim, color palette and type of paper.
From save the date cards to thank you cards and photo books marking the big day, Shutterfly helps the DIY and budget-smart bride create a beautiful, custom wedding stationery experience from end to end.
Additional Resources Related to Wedding RSVP Wording And Card Etiquette For Brides And Guests
If you liked this resource for wedding RSVP wording and card etiquette and you’re looking for similar content, we have you covered. Make sure to check out the resources below to help you plan your wedding invitations and RSVP cards:
- Upload Your Own Design RSVP Cards
- What to Include in Your Wedding Invitations
- Wedding Invitation Wording