Setting the RSVP Date for Wedding: How Long Should We Give Our Guests to Respond?

How to navigate the RSVP deadline and get people to respond

Updated 02/27/18

Laura Stolfi/Stocksy

How long should guests have to RSVP for weddings? Ideally, the RSVP date should fall three to four weeks before the wedding, and the wedding invitation should be mailed six to eight weeks prior to the wedding. "This way, it's close enough that your guests feel like they can't put it off, yet it's not so close that they've made other plans," explains Arizona-based wedding planner Chandra Keel, owner of Chandra Keel Events.

Even with wedding RSVP deadline in place, you'll be surprised at how many guests ignore it. The semi-flaky folks only get flakier and the people who can't come assume it's cool to just not respond at all. News flash: it's definitely not cool! No matter how hard you try or how big or small your big day is though, there will always be those guests you legit have to hound for an answer one way or the other. Now that you know how long to give guests to RSVP for a wedding, here are some expert tips on how to actually get them to do it.

1. Give Guests Options for RSVP-ing

Everyone likes options, and realistically, the more ways your guests can say yes or no to the wedding, the better for you, right? While mail-in cards are still the traditional choice, not everyone uses the mail as they once did, points out event planning expert Sandy Hammer, cofounder of AllSeated. List a phone number, email address or wedding website guests can also RSVP at on your invites to boost your response rate, she advises. "And if you do decide to stick strictly to mail-in cards, make them easy to fill out and pre-stamp a self-addressed envelope for each guest."

2. Choose the Right Wording

According to Keel, oftentimes guests don't really know what RSVP means nor do they understand that a response is needed even if they are declining the invitation. "Using wording such as, 'The favor of your reply is requested by [insert date]' in place of 'RSVP' makes it crystal clear," she says.

3. Ask For Song Requests

Erica Taylor, co-founder of Tinsel & Twine, says her clients have had great success when there's an engaging call to action or participation factor included on the response card. "For example, 'RSVP with a song that will keep you on the dance floor or RSVP with your favorite memory of the bride and groom."

4. Stay In Touch

It's a surefire way to increase your response rate and can act as a friendly reminder to guests that the wedding is fast approaching, notes Florida-based wedding planner Aviva Samuels of Kiss The Planner. "If you're on their radar between the time you send out the save the date and the time that the RSVP is due, chances are they'll follow through with a prompt reply."

5. Express Excitement Over Their (Possible) Attendance

If just staying in touch isn't enough, you can use a heavier hand and bring the wedding up. While you don't have to actually bring up the wedding RSVP deadline, you can casually mention in conversation how much you're hoping they'll be able to come. They'll be flattered and it will further remind them that they need to check their schedule and give you an answer!

6. Don't Provide a Lengthy RSVP Time Frame for Local Weddings

Never extend the time between sending out the invitation and asking for the wedding RVSP more than one month. "This will put more pressure on people to get their responses in rather than putting it off, which often turns into not responding at all," warns Hammer.

7. But. Do. Add Extra Time for Destination Weddings

Because destination weddings require arranging flights and accommodations, there's a different RSVP timeline. RSVPs should be due two months before the wedding, and the wedding invitations should be sent out approximately four months before the wedding. This will give guests ample time to make travel plans if they didn't when they first received your save the date. With a destination wedding, you'll be glad you have an early RSVP deadline because then you'll have plenty of buffer time to make sure every guest is accounted for, as well as get a sense of when people will be arriving and departing so you can plan pre- and post-wedding events accordingly.

8. Make the RSVP Date for the Wedding Prominent

It might seem obvious, but remember to include an RSVP date. Furthermore, make sure it's in an extremely legible font.

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