Wedding Wednesday Discussions: Why Is It So Hard For Guests to RSVP?

As a wedding planner, I often tell my couples that their guests will be the hardest part of their wedding planning. When planning a celebration for such a large group of people somewhere along the line the guests are going to cause you problems.

For many people it is the age-old problem of trying to keep your guests happy once they are actually at your wedding, but what happens before they get there? The RSVP can cause headaches for a lot of brides and grooms and it is something that comes a lot with my own couples whose weddings I am planning……BUT why? Why is it so hard for a guest to tell the person who has invited them if they are or are not attending?

Not receiving an RSVP on time can have a knock on effect with so many things, the catering, the budget, the seating plan…even the opportunity of inviting other people to take the place of the guest who cannot attend!
Personally I don’t feel that a person really understands the stress an RSVP (or lack of it) causes until they have been in a situation like planning a wedding or a big party themselves.


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Since I have been married I make sure that I RSVP to an invite as soon as possible, not only will I reply but I will go and get a card from a shop and send a personal RSVP. Why?
1) I want that person to know that I appreciate the invite
2) I want that person to know as soon as possible that I intend to attend their event so their numbers are correct and up to date.

But so many people don’t do this and I know it is driving a lot of my current brides and grooms (as well as you lot) mad!


When I was planning my own wedding the RSVP situation wasn’t too bad but I did only have 35 guests! However planning my 40th Birthday party was a different matter! With 180 people invited I didn’t expect them all to come, but I did expect them all to RSVP. I didn’t expect a card or a letter but a quick text, phone call or email would have been appreciated! You see I had catering to pay for, drinks to order, other guests to invite if there was room for more, all of these things weren’t possible without an RSVP!

I see the frustration that my brides and grooms go through a month before the wedding still chasing up people who haven’t replied.


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Years ago it was traditional to send out the invitations 6 weeks before the wedding. These days as our lives have got busier things have changed. Some couple choose to send out a Save the Date card a year before the big day, this is especially useful for couples getting married abroad or expecting a lot of guest who will be traveling a long way.
I tell my couples to look at sending their invitations about 4-5 months before the wedding day, earlier if they can as people these days need as much notice as possible. BUT is this where the problem lies? People get so much notice that they don’t see the rush to send a reply and then they simply forget?
On the other hand is their just too much choice these days? Cards pre stamped put into the invitations, email addresses, phone, texts, Facebook groups, twitter….so many ways to RSVP, that so many people just don’t bother all together??

I give my couples a Guest List Check sheet when they book me to keep tabs on their guests. I used it myself for my Birthday party and something like that does help keep a check on people, but it doesn’t help them actually reply!


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So how do we get over this problem?

• Try and explain to your guests why you need an RSVP. If they know that your budget will be effected or your catering will be messed up if they don’t reply then this may help

• Give them fewer options, maybe just a phone number and email

• Put a date in your diary to chase them up a couple of weeks before the RSVP due date, chances are they have put the invitation away and forgotten all about it.


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So now I’m handing the blog over to you, I want to know……….

1) Your ideas for getting a prompt RSVP

2) Your own RSVP stories, are you having problems getting a reply? Or have you been the person not replying? Are you just in the process of sending out your invitations and worried about your guest not replying?
Whatever the situation I’d love to hear from you, as I’m sure there are many of you experiencing this problem at the moment.


Big Boho Love

Kelly xx

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    Hi! It really annoys me when people don’t RSVP to events. They are generally the ones who claim to be busy and then let you know an hour before the party that they can’t get a baby sitter (or some other excuse)… annoying!

    For the wedding day time, we are inviting 60 guests, all adults. The only children involved are the three flower girls (only because to invite everyones children would double the guest list!). Within the invitations we have added a small RSVP card and stamped addressed envelope. so there should be no excuse what-so-ever! Hopefully! As a safety back up we have put out phone number. xx


    I think we’ve got a bit over two thirds of our RSVPs back, which isn’t too bad really… it’s the people who just assume you know they’ll come who bother me, though. If you’re not our parents or siblings, we’re not assuming anything!

    Kelly {WWW} Real Bride

    Our day guests have been fab, evening guests not so much. We are limited on numbers and over invited (oops) we provided an RSVP postcard too!! Grrr!Xx

    Nikki @ KnotsAndKisses

    I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of brides who I’ve spoken to who have been incredibly upset, stressed and even in tears over the fact that their guests haven’t RSVP’d on time!
    I have spoken about this issue several times with friends and most of them have initially felt I was overacting and then been completely apologetic when I’ve explained to them the knock on effect and stress it can have with so many wedding plans.
    As a stationer I obviously have to receive all my clients information for their placecards, table plans etc a certain amount of time before the wedding, but I would say 7 times out of 10 there will be a last minute ( within 2 weeks of the wedding ) rsvp which means things have to be changed.
    I would urge people to rsvp promptly and for Brides & Grooms to consider an RSVP date well in advance of the wedding if possible so they have plenty of time to chase people! :)

    Charley | London Bride

    Great article Kelly and an issue I come across a lot!! Funnily enough I had my own experience of this, just the other day. We have two invitations from good friends and Mr London Bride was adamant he didn’t need to RSVP “cos I’m going to the stag” or “I sit next to him at work, he knows” but if everyone did that then how on earth could couples keep a track! Clearly I then took the reigns and replied.

    Guests need to be aware that it can affect table plans, furniture hire, food costs, alcohol orders, printing, transport – so it’s vital couples have a good idea of numbers. I also find most couples invite more people than they can accommodate which does lead to problems if they all RSVP to attend!

    My most recent wedding had 5 additional guests turn up on the day which was not ideal but I managed to resolve! Luckily we had enough chairs and just enough food but was embarrassing for the couple as they weren’t on the table plan, but really it was their own fault for assuming they knew they were coming.


    Have only read the title so far but already can identify fully with this post!!! Weddings would be much easier if we didn’t have to invite anyone :-)


      I certainly agree with you. The first plan was to elope, but I didn’t think people would like the idea to miss seeing us get married. We are over 50 and there isn’t many family to invite. The rsvp for me has been the most stressful part of the planning, so much so, I wish I had gone with our initial plan. Now we have booked the hall and have the invites sent out, it is too late to turn back. I am happy to see that I am not the only one with this problem. I didn’t realize so many people would be so inconsiderate. I thought they would be happy to be invited to our wedding. Why am I feeling they think they are being invited to a funeral? I now think they would show up to that before a wedding. I just don’t understand.

        Rude Guests

        Wannetta – I totally agree with you. We both are in our fifties, first time marriage and we also were just going to get married by justice of the peace and then tell everyone. I felt it important to have certain people there to see how much this meant to us both. While not spending hundreds on our invitations, we picked lovely invites, spent lots of time with just the right wording and gave plenty of notice for an RSVP. I find it so funny that grown adults ” can’t find , or I think I lost it” RSVP card. How rude. We took the time to invite you – perhaps we should have thought differently. I guess I was just raised differently and had manners. I don’t care how old you are. Read the invite, know If you are going or not. The postage is paid – get off your lazy ass and show some class, send it back either way. This is not rocket science people – it is plain and simple good manners!

    Laura C

    All of this!! I could go on forever about the stupid RSVPs. We included a little card and pre-addressed envelope so you’d think it was easy. Seems not. I’ve asked and asked some people but still nothing.

    As a small hint I’ve simply shared this post on my facebook.

    All my friends and family reading this? REPLY PLEASE BEFORE I COME AND HUNT YOU DOWN.

    *rant over*




      I made it as easy as possible for these people – reply to an e-mail . They don’t even have to find a mail box or write on a card. I created a website with all the information, I even wrote a brief note on the e-mail explaining they can respond to the e-mail if they have problems responding inside the website. It is still too difficult? What I did was send out a e-mail to all who didn’t respond yet telling them that if they don’t respond by a certain date I will assume they are not able to make it. We are able to open up the party after the meal is served so we can have a drop on for anyone who don’t want to come for the whole evening. They will be able ti purchase their own food at the restaurant part of the hall. If they actually want us to feed them and attend the wedding, maybe that will put a fire under their butts to let me know if they are coming or not? I don’t know if that will work either. I wish someone could tell me what the problem is.


    Brilliant post Kelly and really well written. You’ve articulated all the stress and concerns I’ve got and we haven’t even sent out our invites yet! We’ve already sent a save the date and will be sending rsvp postcards in with the invitations but I’m still worrying.

    I think your point about traditionally sending out 6 weeks before and now perhaps sending them out too soon (if possible?!) and people ending up forgetting hits the nail on the head really. And we will definately be taking on board your advice on putting a date in the diary to chase up any missing replies a couple of weeks before the deadline date. Hopefully this will mean people get to experience me asking nicely nicely before I start really going into meltdown mode with any I have to chase up afterwards the date!!


    Just been reading posts re RSVP’s, we are about to send out invites with phone numbers to RSVP to, but was also thinking of putting a little note in invite on the lines of “if we don’t receive your reply we will assume you will not be attending” it’s so we don’t have to chase guests at a very busy time but not sure if it will upset people.

    Amelia Rader

    Thank you for writing this. We are in the middle of this process right now. It’s a week past our rsvp-by date, and we still have 28 out of 108 guests unaccounted for. We even addressed and stamped the return envelopes for them, all they have to do is say how many, seal it, and drop it in a mailbox. We’ve already had a few people who where suprised when we called them to ask if they were coming, they thought we already knew that they were. But they all had plus one on the envelope and we were more interested in that. Three of the couples we haven’t heard from had weddings a few months ago and complained via social media about how rude it was not to rsvp on time. I’m glad I’m not the only one frustrated by this!just send it out asap! That’s what I always do, not to be prompt but because I will forget if I let it go too long!


    I am the MOB and the bride doesnt really get the stress. To make matters worst my ex husband’, who is FOB, was included on the invite ie myself and my new husband and the bride’s biological father did the inviting. Not only do i have guests not RSVPing but we have his side of the family addressing the rsvp solely to him at my address. We thought we had it sorted as our guests have to return a menu but no. we get menu’s with no rsvp. I really dont get the rudeness. We are spendng over £80/head and people cant rsvp to say thanks for the invite and yes I am coming. We sent the invites out in Feb with a June rsvp date. I am old school and hard nosed for me it is simple No RSVP no food


    I am so frustrated when it comes to RSVPs.

    Prior to sending out the invitations, my fiancee and I discussed this at length. Our wedding is strictly by invitation only – all adults minus 4 kids – and we are paying over $90/person (minus the kids which are a different rate).

    I put on our invitations that invitees MUST RSVP by a certain date; to no success. My fiancee keeps telling me that the people we’re inviting are of a different social-economic class and they don’t “understand” RSVPs and how important they are. I’ve told my fiancee that I refuse to chase down RSVPs (mostly her family) and that if they don’t RSVP, we’re counting them as a no. We’d already talked about providing the venue staff/ushers with a list of attendees for people to check in. Because we are having a smaller party, this messes with seating, place cards, food, photos, etc. The list goes on.

    I don’t understand how peple can be so inconsiderate. We’ve already addressed and put postage on the cards. How hard is it to check off a few boxes (names are pre-printed) and drop it in the mail?!

      Emersynn May

      I agree. I’m beyond annoyed. My Rsvps were due on 07/07 and I’m still getting some. For the ones I haven’t received I’m not going to chase them down at all. I’m going to assume that they aren’t coming. Luckily, my fiancé completely agrees because they all were given stamps and they have the option to RSVP’S online. I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to return a piece of paper, click a few things online, or to send a quick text. I’m glad I’m not the only one going through this.


    I am having the same problem! We sent our invites out 2 months ago, and our wedding is in a month. I took what I thought to be an easier route, and told people to RSVP via our website. You wouldn’t even have to remember to mail anything, just click a few buttons…and voila, done! We are also having a plated dinner instead of buffet so we really need to know people’s food choices. Several people have told my mom they are coming, so they probably think they are covered, and the groomsmen are in the wedding, so they probably don’t think they need to rsvp. I’m not freaking out yet though. I can designate my mom or my fiances mom or my fiance to contact most of the people (since my friends and coworkers have already replied) and I can arrange the seating chart so we will have space in case other people show up…but they wont be sitting with people they know, and they will be getting the cheapest thing on the menu!


    Save the Dates went out six months ahead; response cards said “Please respond by ” instead of “RSVP by” so that no one would be confused; stamped & addressed return envelopes were included; invitations went out two & a half months ahead, and included by name every single intended guest. All good, right? We are now less than one month away from our daughter’s wedding and, A) we’re still chasing down RSVPs, so that B) we can figure out if we’ll be able to accommodate the extra people some of our guests have taken it upon themselves to invite!!? I find it hard to believe that all these invited guests who are neck-deep in social media nearly 24/7 can’t quite manage to Google “what does this RSVP card mean and what should I do with it??” On the flip side, we’ve had several responses returned with the sweetest notes written on the back! I wasn’t expecting that, and it’s been a lovely counterpoint to the rudeness we’ve seen from others.


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