Let’s face it – there’s just not that much paper mail worth opening anymore. Junk mail, bills, and advertisements make the occasional personal piece of mail shine a little brighter. Wedding invitations are generally still sent by mail, rather than in electronic form, and tend to echo long-ago etiquette in address and style. Inside the envelope, you can count on seeing an invitation and a response card with a return envelope. That’s it – the dreaded RSVP. What do you do with it? How do you fill it out? What matters and what doesn’t? As we move away from formal invitations for parties and showers and into the realm of e-vites and digital cards, more and more often guests are confused as to how to complete a response card correctly. So, here’s a brief rundown on what to expect and how to keep your engaged friends happy!
Part One: The Date Line
Each response card is going to include a line indicating the deadline for returning your response. This is usually a carefully selected date that allows the couple enough time to verify final numbers with their various vendors (catering, linens, floral, etc.). Please do send your card in by this date!
Part Two: The Name Line
This line can be formatted one of several ways, depending on the couple’s choice. Traditionally, the name line on a response card looks like this:
The initial at the beginning of the line indicates your title (Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss). Your name and the name of your guest or spouse should follow. Don’t know if you’re allowed to bring a guest? Check the outer envelope. If it’s addressed just to you, the couple is subtly requesting that you attend unaccompanied. If the envelope lists you and your spouse, but not your kids, the couple would prefer you leave the little ones at home.
Some couples will send you a response card that has a little additional information that can help you identify who, exactly, is invited. There might be a list of guest names on the card – this is who is invited. Others will include a line like “We are saving 4 seats for you!” – that means four people are invited from your family. Couples everywhere will love you for reading carefully and responding appropriately vis a vis number of guests!
Part Three: The Meal Choice
For a seated, served dinner, the couple needs to know what you would like to eat! If you are responding for more than one person on a single response card, it can be extremely helpful if you put the initials for each guest next to the appropriate meal selections, rather than indicating number of guests for each. For example:
TK Chicken WK, BK Beef
If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, feel free to write those in, but please do recognize that not every kitchen can accommodate every situation at a large event.
Part Four: Additional Instructions
Your response card might include additional language, depending on the event. One line that is being included more frequently is something like, “Brad and Sarah request an adults-only evening.” Please keep in mind this isn’t a personal attack on your family; this may be a choice necessitated by venue space, budget, or other considerations. Adults, in the context of a wedding, would be those over the age of 18 for the most part. If you’re confused, again, refer to your outer envelope! Other instructions might include online RSVP information, rehearsal dinner or ceremony-specific response opportunities, or something more entertaining, like Mad Libs! Roll with the punches, but complete every line before sending it back!
Now you’re an expert on response cards! Go forth and respond (if you please)!
Photo courtesy of Katie Cassidy Photography