Wondering how long to give your guests to RSVP? Wedding etiquette is a beast, so you’re in the right place.
With many moving parts and a lot of people to organize, there’s something about putting on a big celebration that makes us appreciate event coordinators who can rock the process smoothly and politely!
As with wedding planning, schedules and timing are EVERYTHING. And when it comes to your wedding RSVPs, timing is arguably the most crucial element, because everything hinges on headcount! Food, drinks, capacity, all of it!
RSVP Date Calculator
(for example, September 24, 2023) to see RSVP deadlines
So when should wedding RSVPs be due? Let’s talk about all the factors that influence this decision…
When Do I Send Out Save the Dates?
The mighty predecessor to the invitation, your Save-the-Dates will kick start the wedding timeline!
These traditionally should be sent out as soon as you’ve secured your chosen wedding date with your venue. It’s advised that this happens at least nine months before your wedding day, by the way!
Your Save-the-Date doesn’t have to give out too much information – it’s mainly to give your guests a heads up that something big and special will be happening! The sooner they get their Save-the-Date, the sooner they can make their plans accordingly.
This also sets the tone for your wedding invitations, which are the next thing to be sent out of your wedding stationery pipeline!
Need some inspiration? Check out these stunning modern wedding invites!
Tips for Sending Out Invitations
Don’t Send Them Out Too Early!
Guests tend to procrastinate (okay, we’ve all been there), and if you send them out too early, you run the risk of your friends and family forgetting to RSVP… which tends to snowball into frantic calling and unnecessary stress before the wedding day!
While it’s not considered technically impolite or strange to send them out 6 to 12 months ahead of time, it’s just not worth the worry!
Give Your Guests Options on How They RSVP.
Traditionally, RSVP cards would be mailed out and would include an addressed return envelope, but nowadays, so many people find it easier to do things online.
Just include your email address and wedding website URL on your invitation so they can find it easily!
Be Sure Your Wording Is Clear
The literal translation of RSVP is “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” and if you’re vaguely familiar with the French language, you’ll know that an RSVP requires an answer!
Sometimes guests may make the honest mistake of thinking it’s just a Save-the-Date, so utilize crystal clear language about requesting their response by a certain date.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your RSVP date is in a legible font and noticeable!
Stay in Touch
Staying in touch and following up is a great way to ensure a higher return rate.
Friendly reminders that express your excitement will serve to give plenty of notice to your guests that the big day is just around the corner!
How Many Weeks Should I Give Guests to RSVP?
Plan to mail your invites out in the window of 6 to 8 weeks ahead of the wedding date, and try to set your RSVP date around 4 to 5 weeks after mailing.
This should give guests ample time to sort out any scheduling conflicts, travel needs, or whether or not they can attend!
Assuming you followed our rule of thumb, that should leave you with enough time to tidy up the numbers and do a little recon for lagging responses if necessary!
When Should the RSVP Deadline Be?
You’ll want your RSVP due date to be 2 to 3 weeks before the actual big day.
Your vendors most likely will need solid numbers at least one week before the reception, and you’ll also need time to get in touch with people that didn’t get back to you.
Do I Need to Give Guests a Grace Period Before Asking for Their RSVPs?
It is unbelievably frustrating when people don’t send their RSVPs in time!
As a general etiquette, be polite but firm when chasing unanswered RSVPs. If your final deadline has passed, and you’ve given them plenty of time to get back to you, don’t be afraid to call or email your guest.
Typically you can give them a day or two to figure it out… and calling is quicker, generally, because emails can also go unanswered!
However, if they haven’t responded to you after your check-in… we would safely assume they won’t be coming.
What Do I Say to People Who Didn’t RSVP?
If you have a wedding guest who hasn’t responded, then politely call and inquire if they’ve received your invitation first! You never know if the invitation simply didn’t make it to them via snail mail.
Say that you hope they’re planning on attending but you haven’t heard back from them. Most likely they will apologize and give you an answer right then and there!
If they’re still unsure, ask them to call or text you back within 24 hours. You can also explain that the caterer needs final numbers, which is super understandable (and true!)
When Are RSVPs for Destination Weddings Due?
RSVP deadlines for destination weddings are a bit different because they require more extensive planning on your guests’ end. You’ll also be considering accommodations and travel plans, which will require more notice.
For these, a safe timeline would be to send out your Save-the-Date about a year in advance and then wedding invitations about 4 months before the big day.
RSVPs should be rolling in around 8 weeks before the wedding, which will give you enough time to chase anybody up (but hopefully you won’t have to!)
You’ll be glad to have an earlier RSVP deadline so you can get a grasp on when people are arriving (as well as departing) so you can plan the post-celebration events with confidence!
Here’s a guide to some of our favorite passport-themed wedding invites, which are a super cute way to clue your guests into the traveling they’ll be doing!
Kicking off your wedding timeline might feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Ask your experienced, capable, and professional vendors for their timelines and when they need final headcounts, which should help also guide your timing.
Most vendors in the wedding industry are well versed with last-minute headcount changes and they’ll account for that on their side. The best thing to do is to have as much solidified the week before the wedding to ease everybody’s nerves.
If you get the majority of your RSVPs back 2 to 4 weeks before the wedding, consider that an accomplishment!
You’re doing amazing – take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of the planning process!