All Your Burning Questions About RSVP Cards, Answered

Including what the famous acronym stands for.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
by Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Associate Editor
  • Maddy writes for The Knot, with a specialty in beauty, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Maddy wrote for several different publications, including Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School ...
Updated May 12, 2021
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Getting your RSVPs in is a crucial part of finalizing your head count (and, in turn, wrapping up every other aspect of your wedding, including catering, rental chairs and so on). But have you ever wondered about RSVP's meaning? Turns out, the popular acronym is inspired by the French language. But you likely won't be surprised to hear what the French expression stands for. Here, we break down what RSVP stands for and every other burning question you have about those reply cards. Once you've gathered all the necessary information, head over to The Knot Invitations to purchase a set for your nuptials.

'RSVP' Meaning

You've likely heard the popular acronym so many times but never asked yourself what RSVP stands for. That's where we come in. See the meaning behind RSVP, below.

What does RSVP stand for?

So what does RSVP mean? The abbreviation comes from the French phrase: "Repondez, s'il vous plaît," which translates to, "Please respond." The term, which dates back to at least 1845, isn't actually used much by modern French speakers – its use in the English language has certainly been cemented, though. While the original meaning encouraged invitees to respond promptly with their intention to attend an event, modern use of the phrase is more flexible. Most commonly, the RSVP acronym simply requests confirmation of attendance, usually for weddings and formal events.

While RSVP is indeed an acronym, the rules around its written usage are also incredibly flexible. Some couples choose to spell out the complete French verbiage, while others include periods in the RSVP acronym. All of the following usages are correct: R.S.V.P., RSVP, R.s.v.p, r.s.v.p. Choose whatever feels right for your wedding—it's your day after all.

What should I include on the RSVP card?

A wedding invitation typically includes an RSVP (or response) card, where guests can let the couple know if they can attend. Although optional, we recommend including other information on the card as well, like a line for names and the menu choice for the meal being served.

Generally, RSVP cards are used on reception invitations, or for combined wedding ceremony/reception events. On its own, RSVP indicates that a reply should be sent to the return address located on the outside of the invitation. Should you prefer that replies are sent to a different address, be sure to include it below the RSVP acronym. You may also wish to include an email address or phone number for guests who require more information or want to get in contact with you directly.

What else do I need to send with the RSVP card?

The RSVP card should come with a pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope so it can be sent back to the host of the celebration directly. Most reply cards have a requested return date—typically three weeks before the wedding date to get an accurate head count for your guest list (this will help with furniture rentals and catering).

Do I have to include an RSVP card?

You should definitely include an RSVP card with your wedding invitations. If no response card is included, your guests will have to pen their replies on their own (which isn't unheard of, but it can lead to late RSVPs). To avoid this, we recommend equipping your guests with everything they'll need to RSVP as soon as possible.

As wedding websites and online RSVP systems have become more popular, physical RSVP cards aren't always necessary. If you and your partner are looking to save on stationery or postage, consider digital RSVP alternatives. A caveat: Technological solutions that make sense to your generation may confuse older and less tech-savvy guests. While online RSVPs can save you time and money, they may pose a real challenge for your friends and family hoping to confirm their attendance. Be mindful of this learning curve when designing your RSVP cards.

What other wedding-related events need an RSVP card?

Less formal events (a bridal shower or a postwedding brunch) may only request a response via the phone or an email. If an invitation says, "Regrets only" instead of RSVP, it simply means guests should only let you (the host) know if they can't attend.

Where can I buy RSVP cards?

When you can, try to order your entire invitation suite at once from your stationer. This doesn't just make the process simpler—it also ensures all your paper goods will coordinate. If you're ordering online, try The Knot Invitations which offers a wide array of styles, colors and themes to choose from.

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