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Don’t Panic! What To Do When Guests Don’t RSVP

No matter what the occasion you are hosting, getting concrete responses from your guests seems to always present a challenge. Cousin Sue might have to work late. Friend from high school Mark has tentative plans to go on vacation. Sister-in-law Susan’s due date coincides with your event.

Life is complicated. The future is unknown. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, much less what a couple days, weeks, or months will bring.

While some people have legitimate excuses that make it difficult for them to give you a firm response, at many times, people are to blame. After they receive your invitation, they should look at their calendar and respond immediately. But instead, procrastination, laziness, and indecision get in the way.

Is it inconsiderate? Yes. Should you tell them that? No. Is there anything you can do to get responses? Of course!

When your wedding guests fail to respond and the RSVP deadline has come and gone, don’t panic. It is not a sign that no one wants to attend your big day. People aren’t perfect, but they are forgetful. When you reach the point that you need a concrete number of guests, take a deep breath, and follow the below steps.

Wait for the RSVP deadline to pass

In the flurry of excitement that is wedding planning, it is easy to stress out about a lack of responses before your RSVP deadline has even arrived. Give your guests a chance. Some people may be ensuring they can release obligations to work, school, or other events. Others may be checking with their significant others and family members, guaranteeing that everyone to which the invitation was addressed to can attend.

Get on the telephone

We live in the age of social media messaging, video chat, text messaging, and email. People rarely communication over the telephone. But calling your guests still is the most effective way to get an immediate response.

  1. Carry on as usual
    The people you invite to your wedding are important to you. It is likely that you have not seen these family members and friends in a long time. Don’t jump straight to business. Chat a little while, catch up but don’t let the conversation stretch on more than 5 minutes.
  2. Be straightforward
    After your friendly introduction, get right to the point. Don’t beat around the bush any longer. Ask them, “Will you be able to attend my wedding on (date of your wedding)?” For a smooth transition, begin with something like, “Well my real reason for calling is to ask…”
  3. Give your guests the benefit of the doubt
    Throughout your dialogue, don’t adopt an accusatory or frustrated tone. Yes, you may feel slightly disrespected that your guest didn’t respond by the RSVP deadline. But you still genuinely want them to attend your wedding. Use phrases such as, “I wanted to be sure you received my invitation.” If you feel obligated to give further reasons for your call, explain that you need to give final numbers to your caterer and other wedding vendors.
  4. Stick to the plan
    This one simple query may trigger a large number of other questions. Can they bring a plus-one? Can they be involved in any way in the wedding? What should they wear? Is it okay if they wear the same color as the bridesmaids? Don’t let this flurry of inquiries intimidate you. Know the plan for your wedding and stick to it. Be firm but kind when you have to say no to some of their requests.

  5. Get an answer
    Your reason for calling is to get a firm response. Whether or not they are able to attend your wedding, make your invitee feel comfortable enough to respond either way. Express disappointment yet understanding if they cannot make it. Excitedly get all the details if they can – how many members of their party will be attending, what meal they would like, and any other information requested on the RSVP.
  6. Set an ultimatum
    If your invitee asks for a little more time to get back to you, set another completely final RSVP date. Let them know that if you don’t hear back from them either way by (date), you will assume they cannot make it. Again, set this ultimatum with love and express your sincere wishes that they can attend.

Chasing after guests who have failed to RSVP to your wedding is a task you should not be obligated to do. You have enough wedding planning on your plate! Your guests should respect your time enough to respond by your RSVP deadline. But to account for human error, don’t panic and give your guests one last chance to say yay or nay to attending your big day!

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