– Ask a Real Bride – Can I Tell Guests It’s Too Late to RSVP?

Once you mail your wedding invitations, it all starts to feel “real:” after months of planning, the word is finally out, and you can’t wait for guests to open their envelopes and enthusiastically and promptly send in their replies!

But it doesn’t always happen that way.

Unfortunately, there will always be a few guests who procrastinate, can’t commit, or simply forget to respond to a wedding invitation. This can be especially frustrating if you have a B-list you’d like to utilize.

That leaves Real Brides, like the one below, wondering:

“How could you let guests know that if they haven’t responded, we’ll assume you’re not coming? Is there a nice way to do that?”

Recently, this Instagram post went viral for recommending couples send a card like this to guests who haven’t replied:

missed wedding RSVP

While it might be tempting to send a definitive, pointed message like the one above, I advise against it for two reasons:

  1. Not every missed reply is an etiquette faux pas. Mail gets lost; people move and forget to tell you their new address; families experience health scares and work emergencies. Before you assume laziness or procrastination, reach out personally to ensure the invitation did arrive and that your guest is safe and sound.
  2. Even if their failure to reply is an etiquette faux pas, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Not responding is wrong. But so is rescinding an invitation. There’s a better way.

The Right Way to Collect RSVPs:

  1. Don’t send your invitations too early:

Wedding invitations should be mailed around 8-10 weeks before the wedding. While it seems counterintuitive, sending them any earlier can actually cause guests to reply slower or forget altogether. The date feels “far away,” so they push it to the bottom of the mail pile. Convey a sense of excitement and urgency by holding off on sending until around the 2-month mark.

  1. A few days before the Reply By Date: Text or call to confirm the invitation was delivered:

As your “reply by” date approaches, begin gently reaching out to confirm the invitation was indeed delivered. A quick text or phone call works well, “Hi friend, I know the mail can be unpredictable, so I’m just checking in to ensure our wedding invitation arrived! Please let us know!”

  1. A few days after the Reply By Date: Warm, personal phone call:

If you’ve already confirmed that the invitation was delivered, now is the time for an enthusiastic phone call. “Hi friend, I really hope you can join us for the wedding next month! Please let me know as soon as you’re able so we can let our venue know.”

Your parents and mutual friends can also help at this stage.

Warning: this could be the stage when guests bring up a no-kids policy, ask for a plus one, or express their concerns about travel expenses or something else. If others are helping with phone calls, get on the same page and stay firm with your policies on kids and dates. Respond with a clear, yet kind answer like, “The invitation is just for you/just for adults. We really hope you can join us!” Or: “I totally understand that’s a big decision. Please think it through, and if you can, let us know as soon as possible. We’d love to have you there!”

  1. A few days after that: Concise text with a “firm” final date:

If the guest still hasn’t made up their mind, send a quick text: “Hi friend. We are up against a deadline with our venue and need to submit a final guest count. Please let us know by Friday if you’re to join us!”

  1. Drop it!

If that text goes unanswered, let.it.go. Say no more and assume the guest is not coming. If they eventually respond with “yes,” most venues and caterers will allow you to increase your final count by a small percentage up to a week before the event. If the guests show up unannounced to the wedding, your coordinator will be able to slip them into the seat of a no-show guest or seat them at the bar. Will they feel awkward? Yes. And that’s ok! At this point, that uncomfortable feeling has been earned.

Have a Question for our Real Brides?

Let me know what topic you’d like us to tackle next! And if you’re interested in learning more about etiquette, gift-giving, and celebrating in style, be sure to subscribe to the RegistryFinder GiveIt blog for weekly posts on wedding etiquette, bridal showers, wedding trends, and, of course, wedding registry guidelines and tips! And as always, refer your guests to RegistryFinder.com, where they can conveniently locate all your registries in one place!

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