How To Ask Guests to RSVP on Invitations

RSVP comes from the French phrase "Réspondez s'il vous plaît." Translation: "respond if you please."   Simply put, it means “please respond.”  It is a formal way of asking your invited guest to reply to your invitation.  Unfortunately, not everyone replies in a timely fashion to invitations requesting for an RSVP.  This may be due to the following reasons:

  • Invitee is too busy
  • Invitee forgot
  • Invitee does not know what RSVP means

The RSVP may seem like an antiquated practice.   After all, it dates back to the French royal court of King Louis XIV. Nowadays, it is often ignored.  If you want your guests to RSVP on an invitation you sent, here is what you should do:

1.    Make it simple for the guest to RSVP.

  • When including an RSVP card with the invitation, make sure it has an accompanying return envelope with the contact person’s name and telephone number.  The contact person can be anybody you assigned to accept the RSVPs or your wedding planner.  To take it a step further, the RSVP envelope can already include a postage stamp attached to it.
  • The response card itself could already contain the guest’s name and check boxes for him to indicate menu choices, name of his ‘plus 1’ guest and other information you require.
  • Instead of an RSVP card with an envelope, use a postcard instead that has a return address and postage. 
  • Another way to make it easy for the guests to respond is via e-mail.  Include an email address together with a contact number in the RSVP line or RSVP card.

2.    Specify the deadline.  The RSVP should include a deadline.  This will give the guests a feeling of urgency to respond on or before the designated deadline date.

3.    Be short and sweet.  Write something like: “RSVP to Laura at (555) 123-4567 by October 15.”  All that the guests need to know is who to call and what number to call.  No need to say “please” as it is already included in the RSVP.

4.    Don’t be afraid to call to follow up.  It is important to be practical especially in this economy.  You may need to know how many guests to expect so you can adjust the menu, giveaways, travel arrangements, etc.  If a guest does not RSVP a few days after the deadline, it’s time you give your guest a call.  Don’t badger your guest though, be polite and positive.

In the past, you may have received an invitation that says “RSVP Regrets only.”  If an accurate count of the number of attendees is not important, you can opt to use this phrase.  This way, guests will know that they only need to RSVP when they make it to the event.

As the hostess, if it is important for you to get the right headcount for your event, include an RSVP in your invitation.  Don’t be afraid to follow up on your guests.  After all, this is a memorable event and you want to make sure that everything is perfect.


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