Etiquette: When to Set Wedding RSVP Date

When should you set your RSVP or reply-by date for your wedding?  It sounds like a simple task and it is!  However, if done incorrectly, it can wreak havoc on your wedding planning.  Below, I’ll point out some of the common pitfalls of setting RSVP dates, and how to avoid them.

antique-lace-rsvp

Setting your RSVP date too early (> 1 month prior to your wedding date)

If you set your RSVP date too early, you may not give your guests an appropriate amount of time to receive their invitations, consider/make plans, and then respond back to you.  We also see quite a few of our customers with two guests lists: an A list and a B list.  If you set your date too early, you may end up sending out a second round of invitations to your B list either extremely close, or even after, the RSVP date.  You then run the risk of your guests feeling forgotten or, even worse, like B list guests.

ruby_wedding_invitation

Ruby Wedding Invitation

Setting your RSVP date too late (<2 weeks prior to your wedding date)

You will likely need to prepare your wedding favors, order wedding programs, escort cards and other wedding day stationery, figure out who’s sitting where, and how many mouths you’ll need to feed.  Caterers and venues almost alway ask for a headcount ahead of time.  By setting your RSVP date too late, you may not give yourself (or your vendors) enough time to finalize the details. You could even end up paying extra fees for rush service premiums.

Vintage Wedding Invitation

Vintage Wedding Invitation

Choosing the best RSVP date

So where’s the sweet spot with regards to the best RSVP date for you?  Here’s our formula:

  1. When do your vendors need the final headcount for your wedding?  Usually, your caterer or food provider is the vendor most dependent on this number, and typically they need a count 10 days to 2 weeks prior to the event date.
  2. Considering the date your caterer needs the final guest count, add 1 week.
  3. From this date, I recommend choosing the closest nice, round number on the calendar.  By this, I mean the 1st of the month, the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th or 31st.  Get it?  Choosing the first or last day of the month or a number that is a factor of 5 makes it easier for your guests to remember when they need to get that RSVP card in the mail to you!

Example:  

Wedding date = October 3, 2015
Final count due (to caterer or venue) = September 19
Back up 1 week = September 12th.
Choose a “nice round number”…

Compass Wedding Invitation

Compass Wedding Invitation

Ideal RSVP date for October 3rd wedding = September 9, 2015

The objective with your RSVP cards is to get your guests to respond.  This is harder than it sounds, so you’ve got to make it super easy for your them.  Give them enough time, but not too much, and a nice easy date to remember.  And, don’t forget to include postage on your RSVP cards!  If your guests have to hunt down a stamp, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll get distracted in the process and put off getting that card in the mailbox!

*Tip: if you have a wedding website, but aren’t entirely comfortable with everyone RSVP’ing online, include the option to RSVP online on your card.  That way, your guests can RSVP by mail or online.

Read up on all things Wedding Etiquette on our blog and be sure to check out all our New Wedding Invitation Designs for your RSVP cards!

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