RSVP is short for the French term "répondez s'il vous plaît," meaning "please respond." RSVP deadlines for weddings need to combine sufficient notice to guests with the planning needs of the couple getting married. Proper wedding etiquette dictates specific rules for both the bride and groom, or hosts of the wedding, and for the invited guests.
Mailing the Invitation
Most people mail out their wedding invitations six to eight weeks before the wedding. Consider the time of year -- summer and holidays are usually busy times for many people. You should also take into account the distance people will have to travel and the cost associated with this. If family or friends are coming from a great distance to your wedding, or if you are having a wedding on a beach in a tropical resort, you need to provide people with extensive notice. This can be done by sending a "save the date" notice -- even by email -- with basic details about the wedding.
It is traditional to include a response card in the wedding invitation. Often, self-addressed, stamped envelopes are also included. This makes it easier for your invited guests to quickly send their response. You may choose to provide a phone number, email address or even wedding website address as options for guests when sending their RSVP to your wedding.
The date of your RSVP deadline should be determined by your planning needs. If the caterer or event venue needs a final headcount two weeks before the wedding, that is your absolute cut-off date. However, to allow you time to follow up with people who haven't responded, you may want to state a date three weeks before the wedding. If you didn't receive a response, you may call your invited guest to inquire about her intentions. Don't assume that a lack of response means she isn't coming.
As a guest, you must also follow proper etiquette for RSVPs. Notify the couple as promptly as possible about your decision. If you were invited to bring a guest, be sure to confirm whether you will be coming alone or with someone. If you misplace or forget to mail the invitation, call the couple and let them know about your decision. Try not to wait until the last minute, as it makes planning more challenging.
Based in Toronto, Tanya Gulliver has been writing professionally for more than 20 years. She is pursuing a doctorate in environmental studies focusing on catastrophic disasters. She was first published as a pre-teen, co-writing a weekly events column for her local paper where her goal was to frequently mention her friends and family in the paper.