It’s no secret that wedding planning involves a long list of to-dos for the couple. It also includes a list of to-dos for guests. What’s one of the most important guest tasks? Remembering to RSVP. If you sent traditional invitations, RSVP cards were likely part of your invitation suite. RSVP cards—and the postmarked envelopes that they come with–make it easy for guests to say yes they can make it or regretfully decline. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t forget. You need a headcount, though, so here’s how to remind your wedding guests to RSVP.

Why are RSVPs for weddings so important?

Your guests may not realize why you need to know if they’re coming or not. But many weddings operate on a “per person” basis. You need at least a close estimate of guest numbers to make a lot of decisions from the venue to the catering to the florist who will have to outfit the tables with centerpieces. You also can’t properly create your wedding seating chart without a set tally of yeses and noes.

Zola InlineImage 1080x720 Photo Credit // Zola

How should I collect wedding RSVPs?

If you’re receiving physical RSVPs via cards, you will probably want to track responses digitally in a spreadsheet. Simply make a column with all of your guests’ names and then note yes or no, depending on their answer.

Another (arguably easier) way to track RSVPs is via an online guest list tool, such as Zola’s. With Zola, you can create a digital guest list that allows you to update RSVP statuses as responses roll in or that allows your guests to record their own RSVPs online via your wedding website.

When should I realistically expect RSVPs?

Traditionally, wedding invitations are sent in the mail about six months before the wedding date. This gives enough time for the invitations to get to your guests and for them to return their RSVP card within the requested timeline (usually by two months before the wedding date).

If you’re a little ahead or behind this timeline, there’s no reason to worry. This may impact when you receive any last minute RSVPs, though.

How do I remind my wedding guests to RSVP?

So your RSVP deadline has come and gone. Before jumping to panic, remember all the times you let invitations or emails slide without a timely response—it happens. Depending on the size and style of your wedding, the day you absolutely need a final headcount will vary. Ideally, you have responses two months ahead of your day so that you can plan your seating chart and other last-minute treats like wedding favors.

We recommend waiting for one to two weeks after your deadline to start nudging your guests. Then you can take to your guest list and start tracking down those “no responses.”

ScratchStudios InlineImage 1080x720 2 Photo Credit // Scratch Studios

How should I reach out?

How you contact the guests who have yet to RSVP will depend on your relationship to them. For example, for close family relatives and friends whom you see on a regular basis, you might consider simply asking them in person. For distant relatives or friends who you don’t speak to on the regular, a phone call, text, or email might yield the best response rate.

Social media is another great tool for reaching out to guests. However, be sure to avoid any group messages or posts that might reach friends or followers who did not get your original invite.

Generally, a phone call or quick email should do it. In the case of any of your parents’ friends, ask mom or dad to nudge as necessary.

What should I say?

First, be polite. Remember that, while it’s frustrating on your end that they have yet to respond to your RSVP, they have things going on in their life that may be preventing them from being as on point as usual. Then, build your message, including some of these key components:

  • Be sure to ask them how they’re doing.
  • Let them know—nicely—that the RSVP deadline passed and you still need a response.
  • Emphasize how much you want them there to share in your special day.
  • Wish them well and say thank you.

Ideally, they can give you a definitive answer right then. If for some reason, they can’t, it’s up to your discretion how much longer you can wait for a yes or no. Don’t forget that you’ll need a solid headcount to deliver to your vendors by a certain date to ensure that you not only have enough room but enough beverages, food, and supplies for each and every guest. For that reason, it’s also a good idea to go into your conversations prepared with a definitive deadline. If your guests don’t get back to you by then, it’s time to move on with planning without them.

Try not to get too stressed out or down about RSVPs. Late responses are a super common wedding conundrum—ask just about any bride. It’s not a reflection of you or your relationship or your big day. Don’t lose sight over the most important aspect of the planning: The celebration is all about you and the love of your life.