I’ve heard the horror stories. Getting people to RSVP to your wedding invitations can be painful. And while your loved ones may not be so quick to confirm whether or not they are attending, you (and your vendors) are eager to finalize the meal selections and guest count! However, it doesn’t need to be painful! Here are some top tips:
1. BE SPECIFIC.
Let your guests know exactly how to RSVP (for example, “Please email your RSVP response to firstname.lastname@example.org”) and what your RSVP deadline is. If you are asking guests to RSVP on your website, include that text on your invitation: “Please RSVP on our website at couplesnames.weddingwebsite.com by March 1, 2018.”
SNAIL MAIL BONUS HINT: If you are collecting RSVPs by snail mail, set the RSVP deadline two weeks before you actually need the responses to arrive. Most guests think that by getting the response post marked by the deadline is good enough... but that still leaves you waiting without the responses!
2. GIVE OPTIONS.
Do you have some friends and family who like texts and others who prefer email? Thought so! Make it easy for your guests by giving them permission to RSVP in the manner that they prefer: online, email, and text messages are easiest for some, while mailing in an RSVP card might feel more comfortable for an older relative. Just be sure to have a plan in place for how to document each method of response... or RSVPs can get lost quickly.
SNAIL MAIL BONUS HINT: If you’re using snail mail RSVP cards, make sure you include a pre-addressed and pre-stamped return envelope with adequate postage. Also, on the card, provide an alternative method to RSVP (like an email address or phone number). That will help the busy guest who discovers the RSVP card in her “to do” pile five days after the RSVP deadline! Or the irresponsible guest who loses the RSVP card...
3. GET (AND STAY) ORGANIZED.
As the RSVPs start to come in, make sure they are captured in one place so that you know both who has and who has not RSVPed, and what the responses are. There are several methods of doing this, so feel free to pick a system that works for you. A service like Minted or Glö can help you capture, organize, and tally your responses. However, an RSVP spreadsheet works well too, and an old fashioned guest list on paper may work if you're ready to go old school. When you receive an RSVP, remember to add it to the spreadsheet right away so that nothing gets lost or forgotten. Or at least put a system in place to keep the RSVPs in the same spot (even if it means printing your emails or writing down the text message responses) until you are ready to enter them.
SNAIL MAIL BONUS HINT: If you plan to send paper RSVP cards in your invitations, number each one lightly on the back in pencil and mark down what number card goes with what guest or household on a spreadsheet or notepad. You will be amazed at the number of cards that are returned without a name on them! This trick will make things oh-so-much easier to track.
4. FOLLOW UP.
Your guests have lives... and are likely very busy! Although you are spending quite a bit of time thinking about your wedding as the big day nears, they have other things at the top of their minds... and that's okay! Many of your guests will need a gentle reminder that the RSVP deadline is coming up. Email is a great way to reach out to them to follow up. Or try texting if your guests seem like that would be a better method.
BONUS HINT: Early in the planning process, be sure to gather everyone’s emails and phone numbers together to you have them when you need to follow up on those final missing RSVPs.
5. PLAN AHEAD.
Give yourself enough time. There is a LOT to do in the final weeks of the wedding planning process so don’t wait until three days before your final guest count is due to start calling everyone in panic. Schedule in some time to do a first gentle reminder a few days before the RSVP deadline and the schedule a larger block of time to pick up the phone and dialing.
BONUS HINT: Plan for the last minute unexpected change. It's common for one or two guests to drop out at the last minute, and for another one or two folks to call at last minute to ask if they can still come. This happens to most couples, so be mentally and logistically prepared for this to happen, so you can more easily accommodate the changes.
RSVPs can be a tricky piece to manage in the wedding planning process, but don't panic and keep a system in place. A patient and methodical approach will make the experience much more positive. You can do it!