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All Your Burning Questions About RSVP Cards, Answered

Read this before sending them out.
The Knot
by The Knot
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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). Here's everything you need to know about those important little cards in your invitation suite

What Does RSVP Stand For?

So just what does RSVP mean? In case you didn't know, the term RSVP 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 American culture 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 the 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.

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 it's optional, you should probably include some other stuff 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 besides 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 furniture rentals and catering. 

Do I need to include an RSVP card?

You definitely should include an RSVP card—if no response card is included with a wedding invitation, your guests will have to pen their replies on their own personal stationery (which isn't unheard of, but is usually only the case for a very formal or traditional affair). With no RSVP card, your guests will likely opt for a simple note card (with the full name of the hosts and a few lines of well-wishes), but 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 wedding invitations. 

What other events need RSVP cards?

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 you get 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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