Proper way to reply to wedding invitations

Written by janece bass
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Proper way to reply to wedding invitations
Responding properly to a wedding invitation shows respect for the couple. (black and white wedding ceremony program image by Paul Retherford from

Whether a wedding is formal or informal, guests should try to follow proper etiquette rules when they reply. The correct way to reply to a wedding invitation can be confusing because invitations come with multiple formats of pre-printed R.S.V.P. cards, some of which are blank. Some invitations may not include a response card at all. The appropriate reply might vary from one wedding to the next simply because of the wording on the card.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Fill in the designated line for your name. This line typically has a capital M at the beginning. Fill in "r. and Mrs. John Adam Jones" for a married couple. You can also draw a line through the M to write in a different title. If the invitation was made out to you alone, only fill in your proper name. If the invitation includes your children, fill in your name, your spouse's name and the attending children's names in the order of age.

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    Note how many people will be attending if there is a space, or if only some of the invited guests will be able to attend. If everyone is attending and there is no space, you do not have to note anything. Do not try to bring anyone, even your children, if they are not listed on the invitation.

  3. 3

    Mark the appropriate line if there are two options, one saying "will attend" and the other saying "will not attend." If the response card has a line that looks like "will ____ attend" you only have to fill in "not" over the blank line if you will not attend. If you will attend, leave that line blank.

  4. 4

    Return your response card promptly. There is typically a date listed when your response should be received. It is best--and most courteous--to send the reply back as soon as you know if you will attend or not. If the wedding date is close, send your reply immediately. For a destination wedding, send your response as soon as possible. Your response helps the couple finalise their plans and budget.

Tips and warnings

  • Write neatly so the couple can read your response.
  • Send the couple a handwritten note, e-mail or text message if there is no response card included with the invitation. Your response should be dictated by your relationship with the couple and formality of the invitation. For example, a formal invitation deserves a formal response in the way of a handwritten note. E-mailing or texting your reply is typically not acceptable unless you were invited that way (or verbally) or the wedding is only a few days away.

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