Whether you are giving the invite or getting invited, there are right ways and wrong ways to handle invitations. Here are some tips to help keep your guest list from becoming a stress-list.


Save the Date.

A good precursor to your invitation, save the dates are becoming more and more common.  For many of your invitees, this might also double as an engagement card if they do not already know of your upcoming nuptials.  There is no hard and fast rule as to when to send out the save the dates, but do so as early as possible. This will allow guests to clear their calendar, make travel arrangements and take off from work if needed.

Sending out the save the dates will also give you a chance to get the correct mailing addresses of guests you are not sure of.  Start compiling a spreadsheet of your guests names, addresses and phone numbers so that when the formal invitations are sent out, they are going to the right place and won’t get lost in the mail. This spreadsheet is a crucial organizing tool that makes it easier to create a mail merge of labels, track responses, and follow up with guests.  


Send the invitations out at least 2-3 months early

The formal invitations should go out about three months from the date of the wedding.  The invitation is most likely the most formal invitation you will ever send out. Make sure it is detailed.  Include:

  • Your full name and the name of your fiancé(e).
  • The date, time, and location of the ceremony and reception (especially if this will be held in two different locations).
  • Your contact information (either phone, email or mailing address).  

Make sure you triple check everything before finalizing with your stationery.  Read it out loud to see if it makes sense and have another set of eyes take a look at it as well.  Any mistakes might result in having to order a whole new batch of invitations which could be costly.


Spell it out (please respond by)

RSVP stands for Répondez s’il vous plait which is French for “respond please”.  For those of us who took French or remember learning about this in elementary school, RSVP is just something that you intuitively know.  However, not everyone knows what it means so make sure to include the phrase “please respond by” on your invitation. Make this part stand out so that it catches the eye and signals to the invitee that this is important and must be looked at.   


Give options to respond (mail back, wedding website, text)

Although many wedding invitations are still sent out my mail, many invitees are responding back by use of text or email.  Give your guests options when it comes to sending back a reply to the wedding invitation. Definitely include a card with a stamp if you would like the invitation to stick with tradition, but having the option for guests to simply email or text their response would make it easier to get a quick reply.

Follow up with ample time to meet your venue deadlines

When creating your invitations, keep in mind when the final headcount is due to various vendors and then set the RSVP date for a week or two before that.  

Vendors that will need a head count include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The venue where the ceremony will take place
  • The venue where the reception will take place
  • The florist so that they know how many flowers and centerpieces are needed
  • The caterers or bakers to ensure that there is enough food and cake to go around
  • Your wedding planner

You don’t want to be tracking down people at the last minute begging for a response. Give yourself the time that you need to get in touch with people without any pressure or stress.


It’s not you. It’s not them.  It’s just the way it is.
(Guests who don’t ever respond or get back to you)

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, some people are just hard to get in touch with.  You might have the phone dodgers who never, ever pick up your call or the guests that tell you that they will give you an answer later, but later never comes.  Don’t feel bad. It’s not you, it’s not them; that’s just the way it is. In the end, acknowledge that you tried and then take your best guess. Take a look at your final numbers and then round up to the nearest number that will give you a full table. Talk to your vendors and venue about a possible plan in case more guests arrive.  Hopefully it won’t be more than a handful. Let your planner know of anyone that might show up. That way, if anyone extra shows up then it will be taken care of by someone else and not an annoyance that has to be taken care of by you.

You Are Cordially Invited: RSVP Etiquette