One of the most fun parts of wedding planning is when you finally send out your invitations. It's a moment where you can step back and realize that this thing is actually happening before your brain takes another moment to realize that THIS THING IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?!? When the first RSVPs come in, you'll be ecstatic. Waiting for the mail each day will become a really fun daily ritual as you add to your guest count and figure out who's going rogue by ordering the fish. As time goes on, that excitement will give way to frustration. What's taking so long? Why hasn't cousin Barry responded yet? How do I remind my guests to RSVP without offending anyone? What’s the right way to handle late RSVP wedding etiquette? Why don't these people realize that guest counts are due in just a couple of short weeks???
Relax. In every wedding in recorded history, guests RSVP late. They're not trying to make life difficult for you. They're just inconsiderate, self-centered jerks who don't know how difficult they're being (sorry, that's the wedding PTSD talking…). When you're days past the RSVP deadline, it's time to figure out this whole late RSVP wedding etiquette thing—politely, of course. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on gathering those late wedding RSVPs.
To the Masses
The easiest way to figure out how to remind guests to RSVP is to fire off an email or text to everyone who hasn't responded. If you're using a digital resource like WeddingWire to organize your guest list and track your RSVPs, you may even be able to use a built-in messaging feature to blast out a “Hey everyone, just a friendly reminder that we need your RSVPs ASAP!” The group format makes it less personal, so your guests won't feel like you're singling them out and writing one message instead of many personal ones saves you time for more important things, like wedding cake tasting.
This is more of a passive aggressive way to think about how to remind your guests to RSVP, but you can deploy your friends and family to serve as go-betweens for the non-responders. When a number of my wife's older cousins neglected to send in their RSVPs, she got on the phone to her dad to get the skinny. If your college friends are dragging their feet, you can deputize a sorority sister to do some prodding. The Go-Between method insulates you from being the bad guy and puts the responsibility on someone close to you to round up those late wedding RSVPs.
The Personal Touch
While this method can seem a little more confrontational, it's actually a really sweet way to connect with your guests before the big day—and totally okay under late RSVP wedding etiquette “rules”. The general idea is that you reach out personally to each person who hasn't graced you with a response yet. You can call or text, but you'll want to diffuse the potential accusation (“Why haven't you responded yet, MOM?”) by telling the invitee how hopefully you are to have them join you on your special occasion. It's a chance for a little catch-up and, unlike the first two methods, the response will be immediate. By the end of the call or text chain, you'll know definitively if you've got a seat filled or not.
The Zen Approach
Instead of pulling your hair out waiting for responses, you can always just mark them as a yes and hope they RSVP positively before the wedding. It may cost you a few extra dollars, but the Zen Approach allows you to stop worrying and move onto more important things – like the aforementioned cake tasting.
The “You're Dead to Me” Approach
Here’s one way of looking at late RSVP wedding etiquette that’s a little brutal. If you haven't heard from somebody by the RSVP deadline, they're a no. Plain and simple. I really wanted to go this route for my own wedding, but my level-headed bride-to-be was a little more charitable than I was willing to be. My feeling was that if someone couldn't bother to send back a little envelope, I didn't want care if they celebrated with us or not. A word to the wise: don't go this route. It's petty and vindictive, which I am, but not a good look for any happy couple.