RSVP Card Etiquette & Guest Response

Written by michelle barry
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RSVP Card Etiquette & Guest Response
RSVP cards can become a source of stress for engaged couples if not returned in a timely manner. (invitation mariage image by Christophe Thélisson from

RSVP cards and the timeliness of a guest response can be a challenge for an engaged couple if the cards are not returned by the indicated date. Wording the invitation properly, while indicating a clear request for a timely response in a polite but firm way can be a challenge. What to do if a response is not received is another obstacle couples must overcome in a polite and gracious manner. Following the general rules of wedding reply card etiquette can be a helpful guide to overcome all invitation challenges.


Some response cards indicate a title with a M followed by a line to fill in "Mr.," "Ms.," or "Mrs." The "M" is not required however. Simply leave a line for the guest to write his name. Under the name is typically the words "accept," with a line and regrets" with a line, so the guest can check either option. Another option is to include a line for the guests' name, followed by the word "will," then a line, then the word "attend." This way the guest can fill in "not" on the line if they are unable to attend.

Number of Guests

The number of guests is always indicated on the envelope and/or invitation. The response card does not include a line that indicates number of guests because only those on the envelope are invited. Simply fill in "Mr. Jones and guest" on the line or "Mr. and Mrs. Jones," if applicable. Writing in additional guests names, or children if they are not listed on the envelope and/or invitation, is not appropriate and is in poor etiquette.

When to Request Replies

Send out the invitation six weeks prior to the event and request responses to be sent in at least two weeks prior to the event. Catering companies and restaurant venues will need a final headcount around this time so it is imperative you request the response cards back in plenty of time. Include a self-addressed envelope with the postage included within the invitation to accompany the response card. This detail is in good case and increases your chances of receiving timely responses from guests.

When Guests Don't Reply

If guests don't reply by the indicated response date it is within etiquette rules to follow up with a phone call. If the event is a wedding that your parents are throwing, the mother or father of the bride can be the one to follow up on missing response cards. This is a duty that can be assigned to the maid of honour as well. If you do not reach the individual on the first try, leave a polite message indicating why you are calling. Let them know you will try again the next day or later in the week. If you do not reach them a second time, let them know that unfortunately since you have not heard from them and need to give the caterer a final count, you will have to assume they will not be attending the event.

Food Choices

If dinner is being served, indicate that on the invitation and follow up on the response card with meal options. List the options with a blank line next to each, much like the "accepts/regrets" portion of the RSVP card, indicating guests choose which meal they would like. The guest should include food choices for all those attending. To accommodate all tastes and lifestyles, a vegetarian style meal should always be included. Guests should never write in choices or suggestions. If a guest has an issue with the food choices due to an allergy or vegetarian lifestyle, they should follow up with the host with a phone call prior to sending back the response card.

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