Anatomy of an RSVP Card

What goes on a typical response card? If you’re ever unsure, your invitation designer should help you along the way, but to help you with the basic questions, here is a basic anatomy review from Hitch Design Studio:

1. KINDLY RESPOND: This is the header for your RSVP card. It can say a variety of fun things (We hope you can join us! RSVP, We hope you can attend!), but most common is RSVP or Kindly Respond. (*Bonus tip: Did you know that RSVP stands for the French phrase “repondez s’il vous plait,” which means “please respond?”)

2. REPLY-BY DATE: How much time should you allow for a response time? I suggest three weeks to a month. That leaves plenty of time to follow up with guests who didn’t reply and enough time to give your caterer and other vendors a final head count.

3. RESPONSE OPTIONS: Have fun with these! Allow guests to check “Yes” or “No” with some fun wording. Maybe something like “Can’t wait!” and “Can’t attend.” or “Yes, we’ll be there!” and “No, we’ll celebrate from afar.” or “Yes! We wouldn’t miss it for the world” and “No, but wishing you the best.” The more traditional wording is “Accepts with pleasure” and “Declines with regret”.

4. WHAT DOES THAT ‘M’ STAND FOR ANYWAY? Use the “M” as the first letter of your title. For example, you might write “Ms. Megan Nelson and Mr. George Thiry.” A married couple would put “Mr. and Mrs. Andrew & Erinn Hamilton.” A single woman would put “Ms. Bridget Kramer.” Just tack on the letter or letters to create the appropriate title, then fill in your names. A less traditional solution is to just put the word “Names” with a line to fill out. (*Bonus tip: It’s happened before. One of your guests marks “No, they can’t attend”, and then doesn’t bother to fill in the name line. Or maybe their handwriting is illegible. How can you tell who the RSVP card came from? Solution: Number your guest list (Excel row numbers work great), then write the corresponding number on the back of each RSVP card lightly in pencil. Then, if you can’t recognize who the reply card came from, you can simply check your guest list numbers and cross-reference it that way.). (**Bonus tip for the Bonus tip: I’ve even heard of people writing that number on the RSVP card in black-light ink, so that nobody can see it…until the bride and groom check the number under black light. It keeps the card looking neat and clean).

5. NUMBER OF GUESTS ATTENDING: This helps you identify which of the guests you invite can make it. It will help with seating charts and head counts for vendors. If you are in need of help with deciding who to invite, check out this blog we wrote!

6. WHAT’S FOR DINNER? Having your guests choose ahead of time what they’d like for dinner is easy to do on your RSVP card. You could even list a “special meal” option for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. diets. If you’re having a buffet-style dinner, than no worries there! No need to list any dinner choices. (*Bonus tip: You could also ask for fun things from guests on the RSVP card — like a song they would like to hear the DJ play or if they are attending a pre- or post-wedding events. Example: “I promise to get up and dance if the DJ plays _________.”)

7. POSTCARD OR ENVELOPE? How do you plan to mail your RSVP card? Would you like your guests to mail back a postcard? That saves you postage and the cost of an envelope. (*Bonus tip: Postcards have to be between the sizes of 3.5″ x 5″ and 4.25″ x 6″ to be able to mail for just a postcard stamp.) Or do you plan to include an envelope? In that case, it will take a full-priced Forever stamp to mail. And just as a courtesy, remember to stamp the envelopes or postcards for your guests.

8. WHO’S ADDRESS SHOULD IT BE SENT BACK TO? Technically, RSVP responses should be sent to whomever is hosting the wedding (most likely the bride’s parents). So if your parents’ names appear on the first line of your invitation, tradition says that they should receive the RSVP cards. If you and your fiancé are hosting, then you should get the cards. But let’s get real. Maybe you want to get the RSVP cards because you have the guest list and want to check off names. In that case, it doesn’t make sense for responses to go to your parent’s home. Do what makes the most sense for your situation — your guests won’t find it a faux pas either way.

9. IN WHAT ORDER SHOULD ALL THE CARDS GO INTO THE ENVELOPE THAT I MAIL TO GUESTS? Here’s the traditional order for assembling your invitations:

  1. The invite goes on the bottom; then stack your enclosures on top in order of largest to smallest (the smallest goes on the very top of the pile), facing upward.
  2. The RSVP card should be tucked into the flap of the reply envelope (so the flap covers part of the text).
  3. Place everything in the inner envelope so the text is facing outward — that way guests can read the invitation as they take it out.
  4. Put the unsealed inner envelope inside the outer envelope with the guests’ names facing outward.
  5. (*Bonus Tip: Inner envelopes aren’t required and are usually reserved for traditional invitations.)

Ok–then what? Here’s 10 tips for addressing your wedding invitations.

Need help wording your invitations or programs? Hitch is happy to help with that too.

If you need any additional advice on RSVP cards look at our Wedding RSVP 101 blog.

By: Renee Halgerson, Owner/Design at Hitch Design Studio

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