The Time Etiquette for a Wedding RSVP

Love Letter image by Mario Ragsac Jr. from

When sending out wedding invitations, many brides and grooms are unsure of the time they should allow for guests to respond. By following a few simple guidelines you can be sure to allow plenty of time for your guests to respond and make any travel arrangements necessary, without causing them any inconvenience.


Be sure to send out your invitations at a very early date if you have specific needs in regard to your location or caterer. The earlier guests receive an invitation, the earlier you can expect a response. You will also leave yourself more time to call any one who did not respond in time to secure a definite response. Include any information in the invitation that is pertinent to the occasion, such as the venue, whether indoors or outdoors, or if the reception is onsite or at a different location.

Traditional Weddings

Six to eight weeks in advance is an acceptable amount of time to send out wedding invitations. Leaving a guest two to four weeks to respond should be plenty of time. Many guests will respond as soon as they get an invitation, but to leave time for the procrastinators, allow two to four weeks from the time you send out the invitation. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a guest to respond four weeks before the wedding. Allow three or four days for any cards that were mailed on the deadline, and begin making your phone calls to find out about the stragglers.

Destination Weddings

If you are planning a destination wedding, or a wedding that is in an interesting location, you should send save-the-dates or invitations up to three months in advance. You can ask for a response up to two months in advance, especially if you are securing accommodations for guests and assisting in travel arrangements. It would also be a charming gesture to add information in the invitation about local attractions or historical landmarks that guests may be interested in seeing.

Unsure of Answer

There will be some guests who are unsure of their answer. You can either ask for a definite answer after the response time has ended, or you can plan for them to attend. If you can afford it, consider including a few extra meals at a formal reception for the inevitable great aunt who did not respond, or said no, and has now decided she can attend.

Other Invitation Etiquette

Be sure to include postage on your response card envelopes as an added courtesy to your guests, taking into consideration those who are overseas or in the military. Always hand address your envelopes, using a calligrapher if necessary, and spell out all items in an address, including the city, state and street.