Everything You Need To Know About RSVP

Because you got to let them know if they can count you for their special day.

Reviewed by Ricardo Cruz, Certified Wedding Planner Ricardo Cruz Ricardo CruzCertified Wedding Planner facebook_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature), Certified Relationship Coach Shivani Chandel MA (English Literature), Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English) Asmita De MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Experience: 4 years

Weddings or engagements are grand ceremonies. While receiving a wedding invitation, you may have paid attention to the RSVP section. What does RSVP mean? While you may have heard this acronym several times, are you actually aware of what is RSVP and what it stands for? Here, we break it all down for you. Continue reading to understand what RSVP means and why it is important to be included in invitations.

What Does RSVP On A Wedding Invitation Mean?

RSVP wedding invitation card sample
Image: Shutterstock

RSVP holds a special meaning in wedding invitations. It is derived from a French expression “respondez s’il Vous plait”, which means ‘please respond’. This specifically means that the guests need to inform whether they plan to attend the wedding or not. You need to fairly decline the invitation if you do not intend to attend. Thus, the mention of RSVP on a wedding invitation warrants your courtesy in responding to the couple whether you will show up for the day. It is important you inform the wedding planner about your presence.

protip_icon Trivia
“Réponse attendue avant le” is a modern variation of RSVP used by French people. It means “[Your] answer is expected before …”

Why Is It Important To RSVP?

Closeup of a couple accepting a wedding invitation
Image: Shutterstock

Having discussed the meaning of RSVP, it is now clear that it is important for any type of invitation. It plays a critical role in making an event successful. While it actually encourages the guests to attend the ceremony, it also helps the organizer chalk out things beforehand. Replying to invitations is a must and showcases good manners as well certainly. After receiving the invitation, you must either accept it or decline it. Letting the host know shows your courtesy towards them. It will also help the wedding planner or coordinator to arrange themed chairs and décor for the ceremony accordingly. The space of the venue, food, and wait staff need to be arranged beforehand.

On the other hand, arriving at the ceremony unexpectedly is uncalled for – as your host may have a tough time arranging seats for you. The number of invitees will help the host arrange a spacious venue and plan for a bigger budget. Thus, taking note of RSVP and responding to it is an absolute requirement.

The standard practice to reply to the request of RSVP should be duly maintained by every guest. Because, the host can invite other guests as well if you do not wish to attend. They can consider the guests whom they might have kept in the ‘may be’ category. In the same way, if you wish to attend their ceremony and be a part of it, you should let them know. This will help them make proper arrangements beforehand.

The RSVP also benefits the guests in various ways. Responding to RSVP can help the host identify your food selection (vegetarian or non-vegetarian).

When To RSVP?

Closeup of couple working on a laptop sending RSVP
Image: Shutterstock

It is very frustrating to keep a note of the guests who are coming to the ceremony and who is not. RSVP is basic politeness that everyone should follow to indicate attendance for the event. The host also has some responsibilities to send the invitation to the guests much prior to the ceremony. Preferably, the RSVP should be sent to the invitees at least six weeks before the occasion. This minimum duration is required for the guests to plan accordingly. The guests can either decide to put off the invitation or plan to attend it. It is definitely not desired to ignore RSVP.

While the host might get responses immediately, some guests might delay it until the last minute. The host can give the guests a grace period as well. If they don’t communicate by then, they can count them out. The host can also give options to their guests – to encourage them to notify. Giving options like replying in the chain mail or listing a phone number can help.

Additionally, if you have received an invitation with RSVP through email, you need to state your reply through chain mail. If it is an enclosed card, let know the invitees accordingly. You can also decline the invitation by simply calling the host up.

If the invitation doesn’t have RSVP mentioned on the card, you needn’t reply. However, you can always show your genuine nature and convey them personally that you cannot attend.

You also might be in a situation where you may not be able to decide immediately if you can attend the ceremony. In that case, inform your host and tell them that your plans might change.

What If Your Plans Change?

If your plans change, make sure to inform the host the minute you know you will not be able to attend. Don’t wait for the great day to arrive, as all preparations would have been made beforehand. You should definitely inform the couple of not attending the wedding due to unprecedented circumstances. Do not make it complicated at all. Explain your genuine reason. The host will definitely understand.

Sunaina Smith, a lifestyle blogger, discusses how some hosts can take RSVPs to a whole different level. “Once upon a time, I made the difficult decision to decline a friend’s wedding invitation. I really wanted to celebrate with her but around the RSVP deadline, I was told that I would need a medical procedure which would potentially take place around the same time as her wedding. I wasn’t comfortable sharing my reasoning but what happened after shocked me. Her fiancé ‘unfriended’ me on social media, and she stopped talking to me (i),” she recounts.

RSVP Wording Etiquette

Woman sending RSVP via email
Image: Shutterstock

You always need to be extra careful when it comes to RSVP. Few basic rules are required to be followed. Be formal as well as creative. Here are some simple techniques to keep your response simple yet elegant.

Couple discussing RSVP wordings before sending it
Image: Shutterstock
  • Consider formality

Whether it is a wedding invitation or engagement, as a courtesy, address the cards and keep them formal. They should match the theme of the ceremony. The style of the card should justly align with politeness.

  • Make it unique

You don’t want your response to be monotonous. Replace the expected lines with something exclusive. For example, ’accept with pleasure’ can be replaced with ’I’ll be there to set the dance floor on fire’, or ’declines with regret’ can be replaced with ’will bless them from far’. Keep the tone soft and well-mannered.

  • Keep it short and snippy

Don’t panic to find the right words for the RSVP. Reply with short, simple messages. You do not intend to write an essay, do you? Simple and short messages like ‘We accept your invitation with great pleasure,’ or ‘We elatedly look forward to attending the ceremony with great delight,’ can work wonders.

  • Decline with politeness

If you cannot attend the event, keep your justification to the point. Explain the situation in polite words – but don’t overdo it. Examples like ‘unable to attend the ceremony due to unavoidable circumstances,’ or ‘best wishes for your day, blessings on the way’, can be quite courteous and polite.

protip_icon Quick Tip

Maintain a positive and empathetic tone while declining an RSVP. Make sure that you are straightforward and avoid overexplaining.

Key Takeaways

  • Sending an RSVP showcases good manners and allows the organizers to plan their event.
  • You should send out an RSVP 6 weeks before the event to allow the guest to check their plans and respond accordingly.
  • As a guest, once you know your plans, reply immediately.
  • When responding to an RSVP, be polite when you decline the invitation.
What Does RSVP Mean?

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

RSVP stands for “Répondez s’il vous plaît,” which is French for “please respond.” Learn what it means and how to use it properly in this video.


Always remember that even if your host is flexible, you must let them know about your final decision. Don’t leave your host wondering about your arrival. Let them know as soon as you get sure. Extreme circumstances might arise, but you need to inform the host out of general courtesy even if it is too late. Be honest about your situation so that accommodations can be made accordingly.

Whether it is a dinner party with friends or a wedding for hundreds of people, rsvping ensures that everyone involved knows exactly who’s coming and is able to plan accordingly.

RSVP demands a reply, and it is your duty as an invitee to confirm your presence or absence. RSVP are traditional ways and not meant for tech-savvy invitees. In the days of technological advancement, replying via email and social networks may gain precedence. Tick the appropriate boxes and read the invitation thoroughly. Be mindful in terms of wording etiquette, and you are all set to go!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the bride fill out the RSVP card?

No, the RSVP card is only for guests.

Does RSVP mean respond either way?

Yes, RSVP means you have to inform them either way – whether you plan to attend or not.

Is it correct to say “Please RSVP”?

No. RSVP means “please respond.” So, saying “please” along with RSVP is redundant.

Should I put stamps on my RSVP cards?

Yes, if you are giving your guests an RSVP card, you must put a stamp on it. You must also provide additional stamps for your guests to mail the RSVPs back to you.

Personal Experience: Source

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Ricardo Cruz

Ricardo CruzCertified Wedding Planner

Ricardo Cruz is a certified wedding planner and has over 15 years of experience in the service industry, including hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies. He aims to create unforgettable memories for couples and families on their wedding, vacation, or any special occasion. He loves to spend his time off at a secluded beach, reading a good book, meditating, and sipping...read full bio

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