What’s the average wedding RSVP response time? The data is in.

on August 9, 2014 Featured Stories with 6 comments
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The Big Question: What’s the average wedding RSVP response time? The data is in.

In our first Special Report, RSVPify took a look at this year’s crop of wedding RSVP responses to figure out exactly what a user should expect when choosing to handle their RSVPs online.

One of the common questions we tend to hear regularly is a rather simple one: how much time should we allow our guests to RSVP?  Since this comes up quite often, we thought it would be worth putting our trusty intern Mark to work on answering this age-old question for the masses.

We pulled the data, crunched the numbers, and came up with some hard figures based on our users’ guest lists.  We took a sample size of a half-million digital wedding RSVPs our users have received since the first of the year.  So, what does the timeline really look like for issuing and receiving digital wedding RSVPs?

Chart: Percent of RSVPs Received by Week

A Visual Look at the Average Online RSVP Timeline
Percent of  RSVPs Received by Week

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Not surprisingly, after we crunched the data there was indeed an RSVP response “sweet spot.”  The majority of RSVPs (57.6%) were received within the first five weeks since invitations were first sent.   The most popular week for guests to submit their RSVP was Week 3, accounting for 13% of total RSVPs.

You can expect to have received around 50% of your RSVP responses by about four-and-a-half weeks after you first send out your invitations.  On average, the rate of response will begin a slow but steady decline thereafter (a faster decline if you’ve limited your deadline to two months).  We can estimate that you will receive around 80% of your responses after about seven weeks if you allow for a two-and-a-half month RSVP timeline.

Graph: Percent of total RSVPs received by week

Percent of  Total RSVPs Received by Week

As illustrated in the chart  above, the average wedding RSVP was submitted during Weeks 3 and 4.  Responses tend to trail off after Week 5, with Week 6 and beyond accounting for only 28.4% of total RSVPs received.

So, when should you send out your invitations and how much time should you allow guests to RSVP? Send your invitations out between 6 and 10 weeks before your wedding date.  We recommend closer to 10 weeks if you’re having more than a handful of out-of-town guests.  Set the deadline to RSVP at 3 weeks before the big day.

A few important things to remember while considering this data:

  • Your social media frenzied friends may respond within hours of their invitation, while Great Uncle Joe who shuns computers may not respond for 3 months (if ever).  If you’re sending paper RSVPs, the data might be a bit skewed to the early end — and you can likely expect you first wave of RSVPs to arrive in Week 1 rather than Week 0.
  • Week 0 includes responses received during the first 7 days since invitations went out.  Not to be confused with Week 1.
  • What does this mean for you, our loyal (or potential) online wedding RSVP users? Aside from knowing generally what to expect from your guests now, it’s obvious that there are some steps anyone can take to help speed up the process a bit.  Some of this depends on the service you choose to use of course; some free wedding websites may contain issues that can delay RSVPs more than our data reflects.

 

Now that we’ve shown you the data, here’s a few tips to help change the RSVP timeline for your event for the better. Keep these in mind as basic pointers for helping to gather more RSVPs quickly; remember, even the best organized online RSVP couple can’t account for Great Uncle Joe any more than anyone else can!  Without further ado, some tested tips to taking control of your wedding RSVP timeline:

  1. Earlier is always better – So, how long should you give people to RSVP? As with planning any event, the more time you can give yourself and your guests to get organized, the better.  Online RSVPs minimize the time it takes to notify and receive info from guests, but just like before the online RSVP emerged, personal calendars and schedules will always dictate guest response times.  Do your best to choose an RSVP service quickly, even if you aren’t quite ready to send out your invites, because it allows you to figure out exactly how long it will take to contact your guests in the first place.
  2. Settle on a guest list, and stick with it – One of the hardest aspects of planning a wedding and getting RSVPs out and back is the guest list itself.  When you’re limited by a budget, as most of us are, there will always be some tough choices to make with your guest list.  That said, the sooner you can figure out who you want to be there, and who unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) won’t be coming, the sooner you know exactly who you need to contact, and who you need to hear back from.
  3. Figure out what your vendors need, and factor that in – Look, if it wasn’t for the many ways that extra costs pile up during wedding planning, the RSVP process wouldn’t be so scary, right?  But really, the reason you need to be on top of your wedding RSVP timeline is to avoid racking up costs with your caterer, reception hall, et al.  This is most important when considering the deadline for responses you plan to include for your guests.  While you want to be sure to leave time for them to figure out their own schedules, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to ensure you have the important info you need for your wedding vendors.  Talk to them each early, and be sure to find out firm deadlines that each need for this information.
  4. Don’t be afraid to enforce the timeline – Deciding on a proper wedding RSVP timeline is step one.  But after all that careful planning, it’s ok to start contacting guests or hurrying up those forgetful relatives if your info deadlines are approaching.  No matter how much you may love a friend or family member, some of them will never remember to check their emails or submit their online RSVP promptly.  Also, consider including terminology in your wedding RSVP wording to help speed the process along.  So stay on top of your guest list – because before you know it, it will already be time for the wedding!

 

Special thanks to RSVPify Wonder Intern Mark Dobrenko for crunching the numbers for this Special Report…

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  • Patlyn Heise

    I send in my rsvp for an upcoming wedding that I would attend. Then my boss told me I could not get off for the wedding. So I called the bride & told her I could not attend. About 6 days before the wedding my boss decided to give me that day off anyway. So I called the bride back & told her I could come to her wedding at last! Now she tells me I can’t come as there is no room for 1 more person…she has invited 130 guests & wouldn’t you think she’d be more
    understanding of my situation as I’ve known the family for over 40 years…long before she was born?

    • MclaireG

      your kidding right! gosh — how rude you are!!!

    • Vicky

      As a bride-to-be myself, I was horrified on reading this – for the poor bride you mention! Not only did you want to change your RSVP *twice*, but the last time was SIX DAYS before the wedding! She had certainly already given her final number to the caterer and venue (usually this is at least a couple weeks before the event), and once that was done, she couldn’t change it, no way no how. It has nothing to do with how long you’ve known the family or how many people were coming in total – she had constraints that she couldn’t get around. And this probably made her feel really badly about it too! The poor thing!

  • Donna

    Tomorrow is my deadline for the responses to my wedding. I have given people enough time & I have given myself 2 weeks before the final count. I will start to make calls about 2 days after the do date, if there is no response by then I will nicely say we are sorry you won’t be able to attend our wedding since we haven’t heard from you.
    People are inconsiderate & rude.

  • Jason

    We are in our third week without many….hopefully the busy time kicks in soon!

  • sara

    I had heard from most people by 6 weeks, and then there were only a handful that came in by themselves (without me sending a friendly reminder) after that =)

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