RSVP etiquette 101: When should guests RSVP for a wedding?

An outdoor banquet table is decorated for what appears to be a summer-y wedding or celebratory event with plenty of pastel floral arrangements (roses), grapes, tiered cakes with fruit and butterflies, and light blue taper candles.
Paperless Post BlogWedding > RSVP etiquette 101: When should guests RSVP for a wedding?

When inviting guests to celebrate your vows of love and commitment, it’s important you allow them enough time to RSVP to your wedding invitation. Afterall, sharing your big day with the people you love is one of the most joyful elements of having a wedding.

Many couples are eager to get their guests’ responses as soon as possible, but what exactly is the wedding RSVP deadline, and what’s reasonable to expect? Wedding expert Jung Lee of Fete NY, one of the world’s most sought-after event designers, says, “Everyone wants to know 12 months before, ‘are you coming or are you not?’ I get that they’re anxious, but you’re not going to get a real, true answer [that early]. It’s not realistic.” 

In this article, we’ll show you how Paperless Post can help you streamline your wedding to-do list and make the RSVP process straightforward and trouble-free for both you and your guests. And for curious couples who want to learn more, we’ll also delve into the history and meaning of RSVP.


When should guests RSVP for a wedding?

To give guests ample time to plan and respond, you’ll want to send your invitations out at least eight weeks before your big day. RSVP etiquette dictates that it’s ideal for guests to reply at least four weeks before your ceremony, allowing you time to confirm the numbers with your caterer and venue.

Paperless Post makes it easy to send beautiful digital invitations, and tracks your RSVPs automatically in one place. If you use the Paperless Post app, you’ll even get real-time notifications when guests confirm. Plus, you can send updates to all guests with schedule changes or reminders. You can also privately message people to follow up on their attendance or questions they may have, if needed.

If you choose to send paper invites, our exclusive print partner, Paper Source, can turn any Paperless Post digital invitation into a paper one. Remember that, when choosing and addressing wedding invitations, you should include a stamped envelope if you’re asking guests to send an RSVP by mail. 

What information should you include in your invitation? Augusta Cole, one of Vogue’s top event planners, says, “We collect allergy information and dietary restrictions, along with emails and cell phone numbers for everyone up front.” When creating your Paperless Post invitation, adding questions is simple and guests will be able to include their answers with their RSVP. Your Paperless Post digital wedding invitations can also inform guests about dress codes, and whether your wedding can accommodate children.


A dusty pink save the date with a silhouetted sprig between the couple’s names and a white envelope with matching pink sprigs on the liner.Keen” by Paperless Post.

How long to give guests to RSVP

Ms. Cole sees a wedding RSVP deadline as “a moving target based on the stipulations of your wedding weekend. Caterers and venues need to know around a month in advance, so you want to get your headcount together for that. Final billing normally happens 30 days out for most vendors, including florals, table linens, etc. We’ve started sending invites out sooner and getting RSVPs at six weeks. It should be based on your vendor’s needs and how compliant your guests will be.”

A popular option for those who want to give guests more notice to make travel and childcare arrangements is to send save the date cards. Save the dates give everyone a heads-up to mark their calendars if they wish to join you, but it requires no response or commitment quite yet. Once you’ve picked the day of your wedding, you can send a save the date—no matter how early. Beyond sending your save the dates, make sure you’ve followed proper wedding invitation etiquette to help guests feel confident that they have the information needed to join you and celebrate your happiness.


Left: An altar is set for a tropical beach wedding ceremony, with a path created on the sand using leafy boughs, chairs on each side, and a fabric-draped arch. Right: A white card with “save the date” written in large gold script and small illustrations in blue of palm trees, tropical plants, and parrots, emerging from a blue envelope with gold liner.Image via Southbound Bride; “Fronds of Paradise” by Paperless Post.

When should guests RSVP for a destination wedding?

If you’ve decided that white sand beaches and a tropical breezeor perhaps the bright lights of a big city—will be part of your big day, you’ll want to give your guests as much notice as possible so they can make travel arrangements. Ms. Lee says, “For destination weddings, sometimes we need to know a little sooner than one month, so you could send your invitations three months ahead and have the RSVP due six weeks before.”

Simplify your destination wedding planning with Paperless Post digital invitations. It’s as easy as adding Blocks below your invitations with helpful details like convenient travel options, hotel booking information, and activities in the area you know your guests will enjoy. 


Left: A dark green card with leafy branches forming a border and white starry dots emerges from a kiwi green envelope. Right: A wooden banquet table is set for a wintery celebration with white taper candles, pinecones, and sprigs of fir with a Christmas tree in the background.Laurelwood” by Paperless Post; Image via Martha Stewart.

When should guests RSVP for a holiday wedding?

Planning a wedding during the holidays is a fantastic way to celebrate, and venues are often less expensive in off-season times. Much like a destination wedding that requires more notice, it’s also a good idea to apply this notion to a holiday wedding. As holidays like Christmas, 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are already a busy time to travel, guests will appreciate having an early notification for booking travel and arranging accommodations. Adding information to your invitation page, like any special holiday events that are happening, is a nice touch for out-of-town guests who might have some free time before and after your ceremony.


What to do if a guest doesn’t RSVP

Even with careful planning, you might find yourself in a situation where your wedding RSVP deadline arrives and you’re still missing confirmation for some of your guests. In this case, it’s perfectly acceptable to follow up with any guests you haven’t heard from. Ms. Lee says, “We set it on a specific date, usually the Friday before the one-month deadline. Then come Monday morning, if you’re missing responses you can send a follow-up that says, ‘We hope you’ve received our invitation, we’d love to know if you can make it or not.’”

When following up with guests who haven’t RSVP’d, Ms. Cole recommends keeping your communication straightforward, saying, “Whatever is most effective. Text them and get them to reply, text them the link to your online invitation, or say ‘please email our planner because they need to know if you’re coming.’” Paperless Post’s event management platform gives you several options for contacting guests, including private messaging by text or email, and broadcast messaging to your entire guest list or select guests (for example, you can send a single message to those who have not yet replied to your invitation). You’ll also have access to message templates to set up a system of reminder messages. If you reach out via multiple methods and still don’t get a response after several days, it’s acceptable to mark them as not coming. After all, you did your best to confirm their attendance, and you have to make final decisions.

Life is busy, full of bustle, things to do, and places to be. Sometimes we don’t get around to RSVPing when we should, even when it’s someone close to us. Including specific information on your wedding invitation, like how and when to respond, is crucial in setting yourself and your guests up for success. With Paperless Post, RSVPing—and requesting RSVPs—is quick and easy, giving your guests convenience that they’ll appreciate.

No matter what type of wedding celebration you have planned, it’s bound to be a memorable, exquisite event that delights your friends and family. Make your online wedding stationery as unique as you are, and browse our list of wedding invitation ideas for additional inspiration. We also offer Personal Design Services if you’re interested in extra customization through color, art, or translating text into a different language. 

Planning the wedding of your dreams requires some organizing, but when all is said and done, it’s well worth the effort. Paperless Post can help you find everything you need to create and send your dream wedding invitations, setting the stage for an event that people will gush about for years to come.


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Hero image via Elegant Wedding.