How to RSVP: Etiquette and Message Ideas

How to RSVP: Etiquette and Message Ideas

Let’s talk about those RSVP invitations that often end up as fridge decorations, collecting magnets and good intentions. It’s easy to put off dealing with them, but is it really no big deal to forget to RSVP? Well, not exactly. The reality is, RSVPs are a significant deal for the event host as they play a crucial role in planning and preparing for the right number of guests. In this post, we’ll share some invaluable tips on how to RSVP the right way.” 

But let’s not stop at just RSVP etiquette. If you want to take your wedding guest game to the next level, consider bringing a personalized gift for the newlywed couple. While your presence at the wedding is a gift in itself, a thoughtful, customized token of your love and well wishes can truly make their day even more special. Whether it’s a photo frame with their names and wedding date, a monogrammed cutting board, or a piece of art that resonates with their journey, a personalized gift adds a unique touch to your wedding attendance and will be cherished for years to come. 

What does RSVP mean? 

The term RSVP stands for the French phrase “répondez s’il vous plaît” (please respond) and it’s considered impolite to leave your hosts hanging. An RSVP is a polite request for you to inform the host whether or not you’ll be attending their event so they can plan accordingly. 

It’s important for the host to have attendance numbers so they can account for the amount of food needed and the seating arrangements. This will assure that everyone is comfortable and has a good time at the party. 

When should you RSVP by? 

Many invitations include a “respond by” date, but it’s best to reply as soon as possible. It’s all too easy to let an RSVP slip your mind until it’s too late. Responding early also shows enthusiasm and excitement about the event. If you aren’t sure what your plans are, contact your hosts and let them know. They may be able to accommodate a “maybe” for one or two guests. 

Types of RSVPs 

Whether it is a formal invitation with an RSVP card or an informal invitation with reply instructions, make sure to respond in the manner indicated. 

Mailed invitation with RSVP card 

Fill in the card and mail it back in the enclosed envelope before the date listed, or preferably as soon as you receive it. Check to see if the event allows a plus one. If it does, double check that your date can make it before you RSVP for them. 

How to fill out a wedding RSVP

Wedding invitations commonly include an RSVP card and a pre-addressed envelope. The card may be as simple as writing your name and checking off a plus one and dining choices, or it may include a bit more space for a thoughtful note. If there is blank space on the card you are expected to write a note. 

It is also common for a wedding RSVP card to include an “M” with a blank line after it. Following the “M,” you should write your title (Mr., Mrs., Miss) and name. 

If you are unsure if you can bring a plus one, look to the invitation envelope to see if “and guest” is clearly stated. Asking to bring a guest if the wedding invitation doesn’t explicitly say that you can is considered inappropriate. It may cause a strain on the happy couple’s finances. 


Telephone invitation

Let your host know on the spot whether or not you’re able to attend. If you aren’t sure, let them know that you need to check your schedule, but do get back to them as soon as possible.

Regrets only RSVP

This means that your host is planning for you to be there, unless he or she hears otherwise. Usually this type of RSVP is reserved for events with more than 250 guests, such as fundraisers or corporate events, where keeping track of attendees would be a Herculean effort. In this case, you need only worry about a response if you’re sure you cannot attend.

Electronic invitation

These days, invitations are often sent through sites like or via a Facebook event. You have the option to select “yes”, “no” or “maybe” (and may have the option to include the number of guests attending). Be sure to follow up later if you select “maybe,” so the hosts can have enough refreshments and favors on hand.

Emailed invitation

If it’s a personal invitation to an event like a bridal shower or birthday party, hit the reply button. For suggestions on how to craft a response, see below.

How to RSVP by email

When you get an email invitation, you’ll want to respond with a more thoughtful message than just “yes” or “no.” If you’re close friends with the host, you can respond in a more fun, casual way. If it’s a formal or professional event, you may want to be more official in your response.

Template for accepting an invitation

Hi [Name],

Thank you for inviting me to [event]! I will be attending and have marked the date on my calendar.

I really look forward to [personalize]. See you on [date].



Formal template for declining an invitation

Hi [Name],

Thank you for your invitation to [event] on [date]. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the event.

I appreciate your invitation and hope to have the opportunity to attend next year.



Informal template for declining an invitation

Hi [Name],

Thanks so much for inviting me to [event]! Unfortunately, I’m busy on [date] and won’t be able to make it.

Really sad to miss [personalize] Let’s catch up soon!



No RSVP requested

If you receive an invitation without an RSVP, you’re not obligated to reply. However, you may wish to drop the hosts a short note to thank them for the invitation and let them know if you you will be attending. 

Changing your RSVP

It is impolite to change your RSVP for other social plans. If an emergency arises, let the host know that you can’t make it as soon as possible. 

If you were unsure whether you could attend or you RSVP’d “no,” but later discovered you could make it, communicate that with the host. They may be able to accommodate a “maybe” or add you to the party late. 


The Spruce (1,2) | LinkedIn | Woculus | Manners Mentor | Emily Post | WhoWhatWear

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