As a guest...
Proper etiquette for a wedding invitation says that you most definitely should send an RSVP, whether it's a yes or a no. This is the polite thing to do so that your inviters can plan for the number of people attending.
So what can be done as a host when guests fail to RSVP....
Not only do guests sometimes not fill out wedding RSVP cards correctly. Sometimes they fail to send them at all!
Give your guests a few days after the RSVP reply date, usually about 7 days after the initial requested response deadline. If anyone on your guest list fails to contact you after this time, you can give them a call or send them a message.
Be polite and let them know that you need to give your venue and caterers final numbers and you are trying to prepare your seating plan. Sometimes it could be that your guest has sent it and the post office have lost it or hasn’t delivered it yet. In this situation your guests will appreciate you reaching out to them!
But having said that, If it’s looking like some of your guests won’t RSVP in time, it’s not impolite to send a gentle reminder to them.
What most couples don’t appreciate is just how many people won’t respond to their RSVPs. Please be assured that this isn’t a personal issue specific to your wedding, but it seems to be a common problem that every host experiences. There will always be people that you need to chase to get their reply and they will all have different reasons.
Some will be embarrassed that they can’t come, and will have put off responding because they don’t want to disappoint you. Others may have been busy, or completely forgotten that they haven’t posted their reply card, and just need reminding. But a lot of people, let’s face it, are just lazy – they know they have to RSVP, but they haven’t bothered to do it yet.
But you really do need the final head count. So when the time comes to do some chasing, and it will come!...Follow the guidelines listed here...
Send an Email or Text Reminder
Your first course of action should be a polite reminder by email or text.
This is the easiest way to do it, since you can send out your reminders in bulk.
Ideally, your reminder email or text should go out about a week before the RSVP deadline and all you need to send out is a brief message such as this…
Hi, [guest name]
Our wedding date is getting so close now and we are so excited! This is just a quick reminder that we need your RSVP by [date]. Don’t worry if you can’t attend, we just need to know who is and isn’t coming, so that we can confirm the final numbers with the venue and caterer. If you’ve lost your RSVP card that’s fine, just drop us a quick message to let us know, or give us a call!
You should hopefully get a few answers back with a minimum of effort. For most guests, a gentle reminder is all they need. You may even discover that some response cards were lost in the post.
Somdtimes though, a problem is that people find it very easy to ignore emails and texts, so it’s likely that there will still be some guests who don’t respond before the deadline. In this case, allow a few days for the person to respond before moving on to another method of getting in touch.
Deadline Day Phone Call
Your next step is to call your invited guests. They will will have noticed your email or text, but haven’t had the time or bothered to reply, so calling lets them know that you’re serious. It's not great to feel that you have to chase after people, but a wedding is serious business, and the sooner you get their responses, the sooner you can plan the rest of your wedding, so you are entirely justified in trying to get their RSVP.
They probably weren’t being rude in not replying. It is more likely that they felt embarrassed that they couldn’t come and didn’t want to say. Or, they may be unsure if they can attend. They may have even thought that since they are family, or part of the wedding party, they didn’t need to RSVP!
Whatever the reason is really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you finally get their response. Try calling a couple of times, but if they don’t answer, leave a voicemail so that they’ll get back to you when they’re available.
If you have to leave a voicemail, it’s important to stress that time is running out. Politely let them know that if you don’t get their response within a certain timeframe, 48 hours, for example, then you’ll assume they can’t come.
If they don’t respond to your texts and calls, and it’s someone very close or important to you, you may be able to meet them in person. It is a last resort, but if they live close by, you could go to their home and ask them face to face whether you can expect them at your wedding.
In all the messages, emails or calls, let them know that there’s no issue if they don’t want to attend, but that you do need to know their answer and you need to know right away. If they can’t give you a straight answer by the time the caterer requires the final head count, then as far as you’re concerned, they’re not coming.
Assume They Aren’t Coming
If the cut-off date has long passed and you can’t get hold of some of them, you should assume they aren’t coming. If it’s been more than a week after the RSVP deadline, and you have had no response to messages or calls then you can safely count their lack of a response as a no.
At this point, you can, if you still want to bother, send them one final text message such as...
Hi there [name],
We hope you are well. We are just letting you know that since the RSVP deadline was last week and we haven’t heard from you, we are assuming you can’t make it to our wedding. If you are planning to come, please let us know by the end of today. If not, no worries. Take care!
You can’t wait forever for them to get back to you, as it’s only once you have your full guest list that you can finalise your table plan, confirm the number of meals and the choice of meals you’ll need from your caterer and make sure you order enough drink to not run out! Once the caterers have had that confirmation, the guests that haven’t replied have simply lost out.
Of course, there is a chance that some people who didn’t reply will turn up unannounced. Although, for destination weddings this is very rare!
For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a few extra chairs, just in case. But if your caterer can’t feed them, that’s not your fault!