How to Manage the 6 Worst Event & Wedding RSVP Nightmares

Ask anyone who’s planned a wedding, and they can probably share a few RSVP nightmares: registry information included in the wrong place, guests who never responded, or guests who responded but added people who weren’t invited. Luckily, we’re here to help with simple methods for managing event RSVPs!

As a veteran in the wedding industry with A Chair Affair, Inc., my team and I have seen it all. And I can help you avoid it all, too! Read below for some of my tips and tricks on enjoying a stress-free invitation experience, and say “good-bye” to those RSVP nightmares!

6 Keys to Better Manage Event RSVPs

Tip 1: Be clear that kids & dates aren’t invited

For formal wedding invitations, the only guests invited are the ones whose names are on the inside envelope.

But many weddings aren’t so formal these days, and there isn’t an inside envelope. In that case, only the guests whose names are included on the outside envelope should attend. The only exception to this is if the addressee states “and family.”

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Tip 2: When someone wants to bring a kid or a date anyway…

This is a time to choose your battles. You have to decide whether you’re able to accommodate the additional guests. If you can, consider letting it slide.

If you can’t make room for additional guests, you must let the invited person know that their additional guest cannot attend. You can blame it on room restraints or budget.

Tip 3: Follow traditional wedding invitation formatting

In the body of the invitation, include the date and time of the ceremony, as well as the ceremony location. Then, you can include a separate reception card to announce the location and time of the reception.

Hotel accommodations, registry information, fun tidbits about you and your partner, and additional wedding weekend events should be a part of your wedding website.

Tip 4: Know the difference between save-the-dates, invitations, and wedding websites

The save-the-date is a courtesy announcement informing your guests of the upcoming event. It only communicates the fact that you are engaged, along with the date and location of your wedding. The save-the-date is a bit less formal, so this is one opportunity to have some fun!

The invitation is the official invite for your guests. It includes the date, place, and time of the wedding, along with an RSVP card for invitees to complete and send back to you.

The wedding website is used to communicate information about you and your partner: how you met, fun photos, a list of your wedding party, additional wedding events, hotels where room blocks have been booked, and your wedding registry.

Tip 5: How to deal with wedding “crashers”

By “crashers,” we don’t mean complete strangers. This can include people who RSVP’d “no” but still showed up, people who didn’t RSVP at all, dates that you didn’t know about…

If you can’t fit or feed any more guests, politely let them know that you can’t accommodate them for the reception/dinner, but that they are welcome to stay for the wedding. You might want to have a friend, wedding planner, or wedding party member do this.

If possible, after the dinner, you can call and surprise the guest so that they can still join in the rest of the celebration. Keep in mind any space constraints of your venue when adding additional uninvited guests.

Tip 6: When someone says they’ll be there, but doesn’t show up

Can you ask that the guest reimburse you for the cost of their dinner? That’s a personal decision. While it’s annoying and irresponsible for someone not to show up, I personally wouldn’t request reimbursement. You need to consider the value of the relationship, and you might lose a good friend over requesting reimbursement.

Other RSVP Nightmares to Expect When Planning an Event:

  1. People ignoring the response card entirely, and never RSVPing. I jokingly say that you become a much better “RSVP-er” after you’ve hosted a wedding or large event yourself.
  2. People attending without RSVPing, and the hosts running out of food or alcohol as a result.
  3. Weddings being shut down by the fire marshal due to too many people showing up!

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How to Avoid Event RSVP Pitfalls for a Wedding:

A few days or weeks before the wedding, call or email all of your guests who haven’t RSVP’d. Let them know that you have a deadline for responding to your venue and caterer, and need to be able to properly accommodate those guests’ attendance at the wedding. If you do not hear back, let them know that — since they did not reply — you’re assuming they are not attending.

How to Make the Most of Your RSVP Experience:

Tell your guests that you need to hear back from them as soon as possible! You’re planning something incredibly special for not only you and your partner but for everyone in attendance. You need an accurate headcount to pull this all off.

Now you’re ready to manage event RSVPs like a pro!

Up next, discover how to create a wedding seating chart, and how to create a good event timeline that will keep you on track. Then, to keep track of your RSVPs an easier way, check out Cvent’s online event registration software.

Have you run into any of these RSVP issues? Tell us about your strategies for handling them! Connect with us on Twitter @socialtables and on Facebook.