Anatomy of an RSVP

 rsvprules
Time after time, brides ask me – how do I get people to RSVP?

There is no good answer. Today there are so many different ways to set up rsvp cards – even rsvp-ing to an email address or on a wedding website – but still the outcome is the same. Brides and moms spend a day calling all of the guests that have not responded – resulting in some awkward conversations. So, avoid the embarrassment and fill out the RSVP as soon as it arrives, your friend will thank you for it!

Respondez s’il vous plait

RSVP is short for Respondez s’il vous plait or reply, if you please. You commonly see this on wedding invitations as it is typically used to get a number count of those attending and those that are unable to come.

It's always a good idea to also put # attending if you have offered someone the chance to bring a guest.
It’s always a good idea to also put # attending if you have offered someone the chance to bring a guest.

An alternative to RSVP would be “Regrets Only.” This is a more relaxed term which would be more appropriate to use on shower or party invitations. Regrets Only means that only those who CANNOT come to the party are to call and notify the host. If everyone followed the rules this would be a great method since you would only be taking calls from those who are not going to make it.

There are some cases in which you would not want to use Regrets Only.

1) Do not use Regrets Only when you need an exact headcount for a caterer or rental in which you cannot get a refund for no-shows.
2) You are providing favors to those who attend and do not want to eat additional costs.
3) You are going to follow up or email all those who you have not heard from before the party.

If you are putting Regrets Only you can include phone number as well as email.
If you are putting Regrets Only you can include phone number as well as email.

These are wonderful rules to follow if everyone who was sent an RSVP or Regrets Only actually followed through. I have heard numerous client frustrations on this subject. There is no great answer to solve this pesky problem of rude guests.

You may can plan for more in the cases of showers or smaller parties and just go with the flow, but when it comes to weddings and every dollar counts, you can get into a sticky situation.

Most clients say they do one of the following:
1) If they don’t hear from guests, they assume they are not coming and count them out and will not have a seat for them.
*This may sound like a great idea at the time of your frustration, but when they show up and there is no seat, it causes awkwardness and problems for your venue and planner. Are you really going to make them stand – probably not.
2) Most clients take an alternate route and if you feel awkward about calling the guest – the best thing to do is to have your planner or a relative to call the guest in question so they can be more direct and push for an answer.

It never fails, you will always have someone who did not RSVP that shows up and you will have people that said they were coming, not show. Hopefully it all evens out for your event and there are not too many hard feelings. Just keep all of this in mind next time you need to reply to an event.