If you're agonizing over your RSVP wording, these simple rules will help you navigate the messy word of invitations and response cards.
Who Is And Is Not Invited
Most couples include response cards complete with space to indicate how many are coming and even sometimes what meal is preferred, if a meal choice is available. For planning purposes, it's wisest to use response cards addressed to the specific people invited, worded so that it would be almost impossible to misinterpret exactly who is invited. You don't want your single cousin inviting a date unless you've planned for him to invite a date; you don't want your coworker to bring all eight of her kids.
In the case of your single cousin, address the invitation to Mr. Michael Jones, and make sure you write inside the response card "Mr. Michael Jones will attend___ will not attend___" so he has to check one or the other. If you wish to have your cousin bring a guest, you can add "Guest will attend___ will not attend___" so your cousin knows he can invite a guest.
In the case of the coworker with the gazillion kids, make sure you address the invitation to her and her husband in the same manner mentioned above, making it clear that the kids are not invited.
Level Of Formality?
If you're going for ultra-formal and are concerned some guests may not clue in to this, you will want to make sure you spell it out in the invitations. For a black-tie event, word the invitation as such, saying: "Black tie reception to follow at the location listed here." Don't leave the formality up in the air.
Computer Labels Or Handwritten?
Traditionally, addresses on wedding invitations are handwritten. Any personal addressing of people in any part of the card-Mr. and Mrs. Joe Smith-should also be handwritten.
Non-Wedding Event RSVP
Non-wedding events are much less formal than wedding invitations and response cards. Still, when wording response cards for any event-let's say a conference, a roast, an anniversary party or a graduation-you will want to make sure you provide spaces on the response card for the invitee to indicate who exactly is coming, what meal he prefers and if he will need assistance with lodging or transportation. A sample RSVP response card for a conference can look like the following:
Mr. Michael Jones will be attending___ will not be attending___
Meal preferred: chicken____ beef____ vegetarian___
Lodging is desired for May 26th____ May 27th___ May 28th___
Transportation to and from airport is needed___ not needed___
In general, non-wedding RSVP cards can be much less formal and much more practical.
Preparing For Guests Who Can't Make It
Always be sure to leave a line and a space for guests to check off "Cannot attend" or "Regretfully declines." If you want all replies to come back to you, note a deadline at the bottom of the card. In some cases, you may want to hear only from those who cannot make it. If so, make sure "Regrets only" appears along with the deadline. However, keep in mind that this may make it more difficult for you to get an accurate head count since people don't have to make a clear commitment to attending your event.
"What does RSVP stand for?" is the most commonly asked question involving the RSVP cards that often appear in invitations to events. While this FAQ tackles that subject, it also answers other questions involving the delicate matter of RSVP etiquette.
Curious about proper RSVP etiquette? Not sure how to invite one person but not their children? How do you determine if an event is formal or dressy casual? These tips can help you get the right information to your guests.
If a hostess asks you to RSVP, invitations sent online pose a curious etiquette problem. Since the invitation was not written, what is the best way to respond to your hostess? Following these rules can save you from major embarrassment.