Are You Coming? – What to Do When Your Guests Don’t RSVP

RSVP | What to do when gutsts don't RSVP

Sadly it’s not unusual when seemingly well informed people don’t RSVP to your wedding when the invitation clearly requests it.

Having an accurate number of expected guests is critical at weddings and other large events. You need this for:

  • your caterer for meal planning and preparation
  • for your rental company for accurate quantities of chairs, linens, etc.
  • for your florist for quantities of centerpieces
  • your bartender for accurate numbers of alcohol and other beverages
  • making a seating chart

You may wonder why some people don’t feel the need to reply. In reality it’s probably more of an “I’ll take care of that later” than an “I don’t have to.” It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday goings on, that filling in and sending back an RSVP gets forgotten.

Bride & Groom Q & A – When Guests RSVP More People Than Invited

Emily Post has said, “No one is obligated to accept an invitation or to explain their reasons for not accepting. However, when someone is kind enough to extend an invitation, one should be just as kind and reply to the invitation.”

Unfortunately not everyone gets it!

You’ve sent an RSVP card with the “reply by” date clearly on it, and have included a pre-addressed and stamped envelope. You’d think that it couldn’t be any easier, but lo and behold, you still haven’t heard from them by the time the return date that is on the card.

What do you do when your guests don’t RSVP??

Easy! You need to contact those people who have yet to reply and find out if they will be attending.

The simplest way is to make a phone call. All you have to say is, “Hi ______. We’re looking forward to seeing you at our wedding, but haven’t gotten your RSVP back yet. Will you be able to make it?” Also ask their desired menu selections if you are offering a choice of entree options.

Don’t say anything like, “You haven’t sent the RSVP card back,” because they may have, but it got lost in the mail. (Even if they haven’t mailed it back, you don’t want to put them on the defensive). There’s also an off chance that they never received your invitation in the first place. Again, it may have gotten lost in the mail, or the address you have for them is incorrect.

Anyway, stick to “We’re looking forward to celebrating with you. Will you be there?”

Make sure you get a definite yes or no, not a maybe. Your caterer needs definite numbers, not “maybes.”

If you feel that if you make the calls yourself that you will end up stuck in big conversations, enlist for help of others to make some phone calls for you. Family members, your bridesmaids, and your wedding planner can all call on your behalf.

If you are an invited guest, here are a few helpful hints for you to remember.

    • Reply as soon as possible. Don’t put the invitation in your “to do” pile unless you need to ask the availability of another person whose name may be on the invitation with yours.

Be a Good and Gracious Guest – Invitation/RSVP Etiquette

rsvp etiquette

Yes, times have changed.

But . . .

. . . when you receive an invitation to a wedding (or any event, for that matter) there are some obligations on your part. Remember, the people think enough of you to have sent you the invitation. Have a little courtesy to let them know if you will be able to attend.

What is “RSVP”?

This term is from the French. It means “Repondez, s’il vous plait,” or “please reply.”

It has been around for a long time and it is telling you that your host really wants to know if you are coming to his/her event. The expectation is that you will reply promptly.

How do I reply?

You respond in the manner indicated on the invitation.

  • If there is no response card included, send a handwritten response to the host at the return address on the envelope.
  • If there is a response card, fill it in and return it in the envelope provided by the date indicated.
  • If it states “RSVP” and gives a phone number, telephone and speak to a person – answering machines can be unreliable.
  • If it says respond electronically, you may do so.
  • Some invitations state “Regrets Only.” If this is the case, reply only if you cannot attend. If you don’t reply it is the same thing as saying you will attend. You’ll be expected.
  • In the rare instance where no reply is requested, it is still polite to let someone know if you’ll be there. A phone call will work.

Bride & Groom Q & A – What Do I Put On The RSVP Card

What if I change my mind?

  • If you want to change a “yes” to a “no” be aware that it is only acceptable in case of illness, a death in the family or an unavoidable professional or business conflict.Call the host immediately and express regret. Know that being a “no show” is unacceptable.
  • If you want to change a “no” to a “yes” it’s ok only if it will not upset the host or hostess’ arrangements. Always ask before you just show up.

What if I want to bring someone?

Look at the envelope and see whose names are written on it. This will tell you who is being invited.

If the invitation includes the phrase Mr. John Smith and Guest – then yes, you may bring someone else with you if you choose.

If it’s just your name, but you want to bring someone – Don’t!

Don’t even ask! The invitation was extended only to the people whose names are on the invitation and no one else.

Don’t assume you can bring your children to the event. If they were invited the invitation would have said so.

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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Bride & Groom Q & A – When Guests RSVP More People Than Invited

Q. What do I do when guests RSVP and state on the reply card that the number of guests planning to attend is larger than the number we’ve invited?

A. If your name is on the envelope you’re invited; if your name isn’t on the envelope then you’re not. Simple as that.

Unfortunately too many people don’t get it. They don’t mean to be inconsiderate, but they just don’t stop and think what having unexpected people show up to your wedding can mean.

The more people you have means you will need more food and drink, more tables and linens, more favors, more everything. And that means spending more money! Also, there is the potential for space concerns. Your venue may not be able to comfortably hold more people.

So what’s a bride to do?

Call (or have your maid of honor, bridesmaid or other family member) the “offending” guest and politely explain that although you’d love to expand your guest list to include so and so at your wedding, your budget or the room, just won’t accommodate any more people than who you have already invited.

Some guests may be offended, often the parents of little ones. But they are the ones in the wrong, not you! You have every right to invite whom you want (and to not invite whomever you want). It’s your decision (as well as your fiance’s).

Be very careful if you decide to let the “offending” guest bring their extras, as other guests who have followed etiquette, and not added extra people may become offended themselves when they see someone else bring more people. They may think “why wasn’t my little Johnny invited when their little Suzie was?”

If many of your guests have children, but you aren’t planning on including their kids in the festivities, you may consider providing on-site childcare, and have them in a separate room than where the reception will be held.

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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Do you have a question or wedding dilemma that you need help with? Contact me at or at 937-235-2586.

Bride & Groom Q & A – When Someone Shows Up But they Responded “No”

Q. What do we do if someone RSVPs no, but they actually show up on the wedding day?

A. I have seen several answers to this question. Many experts have said to have someone at the door with a list of who will be attending (your “YES” RSVPs), and if someone’s name is not on the list they are to be politely turned away.

The way of thinking behind this is if they said they weren’t coming, then they should not be let in.

However . . .

Regardless of their response, the fact remains that YOU INVITED THEM. You asked them to be there, therefore, you want them to be there. This is the way I see it. You invited them. Their “No” RSVP didn’t uninvite them.

So, what to do with them once they’re there?


In reality, there is a low percentage of people who will attend who said they couldn’t, AND a low percentage of those who RSVPed ‘Yes’ who don’t show up. This number usually cancels each other out. Meaning, you’ve still got the same number of people that you originally planned on.

Caterers typically make more food than needed, often about 5% more, but check with your caterer to be sure. This will alleviate the problem of “we don’t have enough food for another person or two.”

Also, I highly recommend planning on more seating than needed. Here’s an example using 150 people as your final head count. Your head table will seat 10 (you, your groom, and the 8 people in your bridal party), leaving 140 people. Most tables comfortably seat 8 people, so 140 divided by 8 is 17.5. Round this up and at the minimum you’ll need 18 tables. Add in at least 1 extra table, two if you have open seating! That way, if you get a few unplanned people showing up, or someone wants to change their seat, there won’t be any hassle.

So, back to the original question, what to do if someone shows up who you didn’t plan for? Let them in, but plan ahead for this situation. You’ll be the gracious host, your guests won’t be made to feel uncomfortable, and everyone will have a fabulous time.

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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Do you have a wedding planning dilemma or question you need answered? Let me know at or at 937-235-2586. I’d be happy to help.

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Bride & Groom Q & A – What to Do When Guests Don’t RSVP






Q. I’ve sent out my invitations, and the date for my guests to RSVP by is almost here. But I haven’t got very many RSVP cards back yet! What do I do?

A. This is a common problem for just about every bride and groom. When you’re anxiously awaiting those reply cards, what could be worse than opening up a mailbox with nothing inside?

You need an accurate head count (for your caterer, and to make sure you’ve got enough tables and chairs, and centerpieces). The only way to handle this is starting the day AFTER your “RSVP by” date call the non-RSVPers and politely ask them if they’re going to be attending. A simple “Joe and I are looking forward to having you celebrate our wedding day with us. Will you be there?”

Make sure you get a yes or no, maybes aren’t allowed!

You can also have your groom, your maid of honor, your bridesmaids, a family member, or even your wedding planner help with making these calls. I have made several “Will you be there” calls on behalf of my brides and grooms.

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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Need help with your wedding invitations and stationery? Contact me at or at 937-235-2586.

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Bride & Groom Q & A – What Does “M______________” Mean





Q. What is the “M” with a line for on the RSVP card?

A. The M on an RSVP card is where the guest will write his or her title (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss) and then their name(s) on the line.

These days, many couples are often omitting the “M” and putting the word “Name” instead.

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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For help with your wedding invitations or other stationery, contact me at or at 937-235-2586.

photo credit: Sarah Parrott via photopin cc

Bride & Groom Q & A – What Do I Put On The RSVP Card

I get a lot of questions from brides about the RSVP, or Response, card. So for the next couple weeks I’ll be posting some of the most common questions about these small, but very important, cards.

Starting with . . .

Q. What goes on the RSVP card?

A. Here are the key elements you want on your RSVP cards:

1. First of all, put what you want the guests to do
The favor of a reply is requested

2. When they should reply by
on or before November 8, 2014

3. Where they indicate who is replying
M ____________________
and they will fill in the appropriate name(s)

4. Where they indicate if they will or will not be attending
_____ Will attend
_____ Not able to attend

5. If you are giving your guests a choice of entree
Please initial each entree choice for each guest
_____ Prime Rib
_____ Chicken Kiev
_____ Mushroom Lasagna

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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If you need help with your wedding invitations or plans, contact me at or at 937-235-2586.

Bride & Groom Q&A – RSVPs

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Q – Some people just don’t RSVP to our wedding invitation. Is there a magic formula for the best guess of these non-RSVP people that will actually show up?

A – Getting RSVPs back is a BIG problem. Even when providing a pre-addressed and pre-stamped card, where all they have to do is check either “yes” or “no” and drop it in a mailbox, people just aren’t in the habit of giving a proper response.

Are You Coming? – What to Do When Your Guests Don’t RSVP

So, how to figure out the actual number of who is coming? First of all, never guess – you don’t want to give your caterer a head count that ends up too low (and you end up with not enough food and drinks and seating – making you look bad, when it’s not your fault that they didn’t let you know that they were coming) or too high (and ending up with more food and centerpieces and linens than you really need – and having to pay for those extras to boot).

I always recommend that the day after “Please Reply Date” have someone call those who haven’t responded. I’ve even made these calls for brides. It’s a simple “we’re looking forward to celebrating with you. Will you be able to make it?” Get a definite yes or no – no maybes.

Bride & Groom Q & A – When Guests RSVP More People Than Invited

Don’t feel bad about calling people who haven’t responded. So much depends on how many people will be there – food, drink, tables, chairs, centerpieces. . . you need an accurate number.

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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For more wedding planning tips and ideas contact me at or at 937-235-2586 or 937-581-3647!