Etiquette Meets Netiquette: Traditional and Online RSVP FAQs

The Internet claims to make the world a much simpler place.  While that’s mostly true, with new ideas come new side effects, even when it comes to things like etiquette.  Look no further than weddings, which have moved increasingly to the digital realm with events, photography, music, gifts, and a whole range of other wedding-related needs being handled through the web primarily.  With the advent of the online wedding RSVP, among these others, this means a whole slew of time-honored planning and hosting expectations have changed along with them.  We thought it might be helpful to assemble a sampling of frequently asked questions about traditional and digital RSVP etiquette, to help you navigate as both the host and the guest when sending and receiving your wedding RSVP:

How long should I expect my guests to take to respond before I start getting upset?

RSVPify ran through our data and determined that the majority of respondents to wedding events returned their info within the first five weeks of receiving an invitation.  Now, what does that mean? For one, you want to leave yourself plenty of time before your event to get those online RSVPs out to the friends and family (and you can safely tack on another week or two of expected response time for paper invitations).  RSVPify also found that most responses were not fully submitted until two months have passed – so yes, you can expect having to push those guests a little bit to get a prompt response.

However, this also means that, as a host, you want to be patient (we know you’ll be excited to start hearing from people, everyone is!).  Whether it’s snail-mail or the digital variety, RSVPs can still get lost, forgotten, and deleted by accident, so be sure to send out a patient reminder (or two or three) first before getting stern with any tardy respondents.  Make sure to clearly identify a deadline for response if you do need to stick to a strict timetable as well – the more clear the better.

As a guest, do I really need to be in a hurry about this?

We know that everyone’s schedule gets busier and busier, and with weddings often remaining adult-only affairs, your hosts should expect this of you too.  But remember to take a moment and think about everything they have to worry about as well.  If you are having trouble figuring out logistics of making it to the wedding or affording it, share this with your host so they aren’t kept in the dark.  Often, there’s an alternative that allows you to make it fit if it’s an event you absolutely want to (or are expected to) attend.  But remember, a moment’s worth of info from you can save your hosts one more thing on their already busy minds.

How formal should my RSVP be?

That depends entirely on you (and whomever plans on helping you plan your big day).  Formal wedding RSVP wording is usually still the choice if you plan on going with a traditional, fancy paper invitation (or a digital version of the same).  This usually entails an RSVP written in the 3rd person with a guest’s response already prepared (usually you’ll just ask them to check a box or sign).  The nice thing about using formal language is it conveys a seriousness to the invitation itself – which might be a nice subtle way to get those replies back to you faster than usual.

However, if you are more of an informal couple (or planning a more informal or less traditional celebration), you probably want an RSVP that projects that instead.  Get creative with your fonts or goofy with your wedding RSVP wording (or use a cute picture!).  Your RSVP will be one of the first impressions your guests will get of your upcoming event – send them the invite that reflects what you want your special day to be.

What are some guest faux pas I might want to avoid?

We decided to assemble some bullet points to make it easier for you:

Asking if (insert name here) can come with.  Unless you are clearly being offered a +1 (and even then, if the person is not a favorite of the hosts or vice versa) you want to avoid putting both them, and yourself, in an awkward position on their special day.

Changing your mind, especially super-late.  Aside from the reasons listed earlier in the article, now there’s the caterer and other expensive considerations.

Bringing children to an adult event. This one seems like it doesn’t need much of an explanation.  A baby-sitter might just be necessary.

Not returning your RSVP at all. Why leave your hosts in limbo? A quick no is enough to take one less worry off their plate.

Bothering the hosts too much with trying to make your plans.  It’s one thing if it’s a destination-wedding, where your hosts are asking you to make a elaborate trip.  But hotel info should be provided, and transportation should be on your plate.