What are you supposed to do when guest don’t RSVP to your wedding? Let’s discuss it! Read on + subscribe to our free newsletter for tips + giveaways to your inbox!
Uh-oh, it’s happening: you have guests who haven’t responded to your wedding and the deadline is approaching (or already passed). How do you handle guests who don’t respond with tact and politeness?
When a guest receives an invitation, he or she is obligated to respond yes or no in a timely manner. When it is a formal wedding invitation, this means you must complete the RSVP card and submit a response by mail or online before the designated deadline date.
However, not all guests do so. And when you’re left waiting for an RSVP to come back, you’re faced with a dilemma.
After all, you can’t just assume the guest in question won’t attend, as we’ve seen it happen before. Guests who don’t respond sometimes do show up on the wedding day, a gift in hand, looking for their assigned seat. ;)
You also can’t assume they’re doing it out of spite. Sometimes, guests don’t respond to their wedding for various reasons and, while your wedding day is circled and highlighted in your mind, everyone is busy living their own lives and things happen. Sometimes guests don’t respond to an RSVP by accident, and that’s OK, but we’ll show you the proper way to handle guests who don’t RSVP on time.
When Wedding Guests Don’t RSVP
So, what do you do when guests don’t RSVP to the wedding? Anything? Do you really need to reach out to guests who don’t have the courtesy to respond to your formal invite? As a rule of thumb, guests have until the specified date on your RSVP cards to respond to your invitation. However, once that date passes, it is perfectly acceptable and polite to inquire directly to the guest to find out if he or she is able to attend.
Before we get into that, let’s discuss the different RSVP styles you’re sure to encounter on your own guest list.
Guest RSVP Styles
Almost every wedding guest list will undoubtedly include the following groups of guests, which we call response styles. ;)
1. Guests who respond immediately.
These are the real MVPs. They know the seriousness of an accurate headcount; they know how to respond swiftly, they do it practically immediately, and they’re super pumped about your wedding (even if they, unfortunately, cannot attend). They know you’re just as excited to receive the response cards in the mail, so they don’t delay a proper response.
Whether wedding guests respond online or via mail, this is my favorite RSVP style. This is usually the group with whom you are the closest; immediate family, friends, and bridal party attendants. You may even have the occasional jotted note of celebration or, “We can’t wait!” written in ink on the card, which is a sweet surprise when you’re opening them up.
These are the guests who would never think to not respond. Most of the time, these are the guests who are planning to attend your wedding, and already have a wedding guest dress or outfit picked out. This crew can’t wait to dance, mingle, and celebrate your marriage.
2. Guests who wait, then respond BEFORE the final date
This group of guests is also excited to attend, or sad to decline; however, they may be waiting a bit to secure childcare for the wedding, particularly if it is a destination weekend. They may also be making plans, travel arrangements, and figuring out their schedules.
You’ll find guests don’t respond right away to the RSVP card if they’re trying to figure out how to attend if there’s another obligation.
This segment of guests who don’t respond to your wedding RSVP immediately may also have set it aside and accidentally forgot to fill it out and mail it back. The invitation went on the fridge and the response card slid down and fell underneath, along with a few grapes. ;)
Or they didn’t log on to your wedding website to RSVP online quickly and it slipped their mind. The bottom line here is don’t take it personally, people are busy.
3. Guests who never respond at all
These guests can expect to bring a folding chair and a sandwich. Just kidding!
But in all honesty, there is a group of guests who, despite the odds, never respond to the invitation at all.
They don’t mail it back, they don’t go online, and you’re left wondering if they received the invitation, lost the card, or cannot decide whether or not to attend.
Most of the time, this is because he or she isn’t able to make it, forgets to send it in, and then it results in an awkward conversation of hat to do when guests don’t rsvp.
This is the group of whom you need to contact because, as surprising as it sounds, this segment of guests sometimes DO show up and forget they never responded. However, they won’t have a seat reserved, a meal allotted to their name, a favor, a program — the whole nine yards.
So, here’s exactly what to do when guests don’t RSVP to your wedding on time.
What to Do When Guests Don’t RSVP
The guest who never RSVPs is one that baffles me, but mostly because it causes you to wonder if they received the invitation at all, whether the RSVP card was lost in the mail, or they simply ignored a response. Also, life happens; they may have just set it aside and forgotten. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but you definitely want to figure out whether or not they’ll attend, and you’ll want to politely follow up with people who don’t RSVP. After all, you do want an accurate headcount.
Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on what to do when guests forget to RSVP.
Should you follow up with people who don’t RSVP?
YES! The host of the wedding should reach out to guests who do not respond. However, do so politely and without accusation. Sometimes, guests have the best intentions and simply forget to mail it in.
Also, be sure you do your own due diligence: go over the returned RSVP cards and your guest list once more to make sure you didn’t receive it and forgot to make a note. That would be awkward.
How do you politely remind someone to RSVP?
First, wait just a day or two past the RSVP deadline. The guest in question may have placed it in the mail and it is on its way to your mailbox.
A simple phone call will do the trick! Calmly and politely inquire about the invitation, stating the invitation was mailed out but you want to make sure they received it. You may also let them know the headcount to the caterer is due soon and you were wondering if he or she will be able to attend.
It’s polite to ask, but be sure to not be rude in your request. Just be straightforward, polite, and cheerful. This way, you’ll get an accurate headcount and you won’t need to leave any open seats at the reception for guests who don’t RSVP and won’t be attending.
A bit awkward, perhaps, but it’s the only way to tackle this etiquette question. :) Now that you know what to do when guests don’t RSVP, how can you make it easier for them to do so? With online RSVPs, of course!
You can now offer online RSVP options for guests with your wedding website (FREE!) from Minted. In doing so, you will save money on paper (no envelopes, wheeee!) and postage (digital, no stamps!) and you’ll ensure that guests will respond in a timely manner to your wedding invitation.
Here’s a wedding website example (by Susan Moyal). See the heading for RSVP? Guests click on it and submit their responses digitally. It’s brilliant, really.
You can even enable RSVP for multiple events, so you’ll know if guests are attending an engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, welcome dinner, etc. To find out more and to get your online RSVP started, click here!
In conclusion, when RSVP responses don’t come in swiftly, just breathe! Don’t take it personally. Wait, then reach out if a guest has not responded. Sometimes cards do get lost in the mail!
If you have any other questions on the topic, let us know in the comment box below.