6 Steps For Handling Guests Who Don't RSVP

There's nothing more frustrating than realising that several of the guests on your list haven’t replied by the RSVP deadline — especially when you’ve provided them with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope in their wedding invitation!

However if you want an accurate headcount, you’ll have to reach out to those who haven’t responded.

Feel awkward? There is no need, because we have provided you with 6 simple steps and some wording suggestions, so that your wedding day can continue without a hitch.

Step 1 – Breathe

Yes, it is super frustrating that you have given your guests a couple of weeks to let you know if they will be attending your wedding and they still haven’t replied.

Yes, your head is probably buzzing with what you will do with your seating plan and catering if you don’t have the final numbers yet.

However, it is important to remember that when your guests haven’t RSVPed, it could be for any number of reasons. For instance...

- You may not have given clear, specific instructions on how to RSVP and when by.

- Your guest(s) might have to say no, and are procrastinating (because giving people bad news sucks)

- The RSVP date might be too far out, and guests are waiting on rosters, flight sales, lotto wins… etc!

- Your guest(s) might have been ultra busy and did not realise they missed the deadline.

... to list but a few possible explanations.

So take some time to breathe! People do lead busy lives and they likely didn't mean to cause you any upsetting feelings.

Step 2 – Give Them Another Couple Of Days

If you have provided guests with a card to post back to you, rather than allowing them to email or text their response, wait a few more days before you start to holler at them for not responding.

They may have literally posted their RSVP after close of business on the date you placed on your invite, which means it will take the post a few days to get the card back to you.

Step 3 – Start The Calls

Now that you have taken a breath (or 20…) and waited an appropriate length of time to ensure any posted RSVPs have made their way to your letterbox, you can start getting on the phone to talk to those you haven’t yet heard from.

It's always possible that a reply card got lost in the mail or life simply got busy. First, politely call the guest and ask for their RSVP status. Use a casual and personable approach, such as:

"Can you believe it's only two weeks until the wedding? We're so excited. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have your RSVP card, but we're so hoping you'll be there. Will you be able to attend?"

If you want to emphasise the point that you need an answer NOW, you can mention how you need to provide final numbers to the venue and caterer.

Often, the mother of the bride or the maid of honor makes phone calls for the couple, but the task can be assigned to whoever has the time and can handle it with grace. Even if the person doesn’t know the guest, they can put the focus on the wedding:

"Hi, I'm calling on behalf of [names of the happy couple]. I'm so excited that it's only two weeks until their wedding. They asked me to follow up with you and see if you'll be able to attend."

Step 4 – Get On Email/Text

If you cannot reach your guests on the phone, leave a voicemail. Then, follow it up with a text message or email. You should continue in the same relaxed tone as what you would have over the phone, but you may like to be a bit more definite on what is going to happen next.

Because your deadlines are looming and you do need final numbers, you might need to take more of a business-like approach and suggest that if you do not hear back from them by a certain time, (give them a couple of days at least, if you can spare them) they will be marked as not attending.

To word this delicately, you could go with something like:

“We hope you received our wedding invitation that was extended to you x weeks ago. We have not yet received an RSVP from you and we will need to get the final numbers to our venue and caterer. If we don’t hear back from you by x, we will assume you are unable to attend. If you would like to join us to celebrate our big day, please give us a call as soon as you can".

or

“Hey [name], I really need to get numbers from our wedding guests ASAP – got to keep the caterers happy! If we haven’t heard from you by Monday, I’ll have to assume you can’t make it. Looking forward to catching up at a later date. Love, [The Nearlyweds]”.

Just remember: do NOT send a group email or text! Send your messages to each individual.

Step 5 - Still No Response

Sometimes guests, especially younger guests, don't understand the importance of an RSVP or why you need to know if they’re coming or not. They may not have replied because they don't yet know their work schedule or haven't figured out transportation. If you don't receive a firm answer to your first inquiry, there's nothing wrong with asking them to let you know if they are attending by the end of the week or so. Simply let them know that the date chosen is when you must give a final count to the caterer. If you still haven't heard from them by that drop-dead date, call them and say something like the following:

"As I haven't heard from you, I'm assuming that you're not going to be able to make it. Let's get together and share pictures when we get back from the honeymoon!"

Step 6 - Remember to Enjoy Your Big Day

You’re getting married! If you do nothing else, remember to enjoy your big day. The little things that may have once seemed like a big deal will be quickly forgotten. You may notice something amiss, but your guests will never know the difference and will enjoy celebrating with you just the same.

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