5 steps for handling guests who don’t RSVP

Remember back in primary school when you’d send out a note to the person you had a crush on? It would read something like “Do you like me?” with some boxes, yes, no, and if you wanted a chance of a potential ‘relationship’, a box for maybe. Chances are, the person would tick a box pretty quickly, hand it to a friend, and you would have your answer before the school bell rang. So why, oh why, when you have found the love of your life and send out wedding invitations to guests do so many of them fail to respond quickly?


It is a question many couples have torn their hair out over. What seems like a simple task, with a simple action – ie ticking a box and posting the card back – can actually cause major headaches when you are planning a wedding and a large percentage of our guests fail to RSVP.

So, how do you handle guests who have not returned their RSVP? Here are some tips to help you deal with them with poise and grace.

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, catering, and wedding favours if you don’t yet have final numbers.

And yes, you will probably want to get fair up the people who have done this to you… but take some time to breathe! People do lead busy lives, and there is this thing where you dream you’ve done something and not actually done it in real life…

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 pester 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.

If your list is extensive, you might like to ask someone to help you to get through it. Give them a call and rather than pointing the proverbial finger and screaming, “Why haven’t you sent me an RSVP yet!?!” go in calmly and ask them if they had received your invite in the mail. If the response is yes, follow with something like, “We haven’t yet received your RSVP card and we’d love to know if you will be able to join us?”

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.


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.”

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

Step 5 – If they still don’t respond

You have now done everything in your power to let your potential guest know that you need an answer. If they still don’t respond by the later date you have set for them, you can totally strike them from the list and move on.

If you would like to give them another chance, because you really want them there, or if you still have a little time up your sleeve before final numbers need to be locked in, you can totally do so.


Manage your RSVPs via the Easy Weddings Guest List tool!

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