Swingin' Dolly Studios

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FAQ #2: Sorry, bro, you’re not on the list.

I saw this question from a lady in Louisiana and thought it would be a good one to address:

“Is anyone else being really strict about their RSVP list; like, if you’re not on it, you can’t get into the reception?”


There’s a really good reason why, as a guest, you should ALWAYS RSVP. 


I hate to sound so shallow but frankly that’s what it’s all about! You’re paying a venue to house everyone, you’re paying a caterer to feed everyone, you’re making little favors to please everyone… and you have guests who are not going to RSVP? No. That’s not okay.


The easiest way to work around this issue is to be honest from the beginning. On your ‘save the dates’ mention somthing like, “You are one of the select few who we truly want witnessing our nuptuals. Please save the day!” Subtle, right?

On the invitation itself, put on there, “By invitation only” and make sure to name every person specifically of who is invited. Want to invite your single cousin Justine but want her to bring a date, put, “Justine and Guest.” If you want to invite Uncle Jake and his whole family, name every person on the invitation: Uncle Jake, Aunt Betty, Cousin Buster, Cousin Mary, Cousin Poncho, and Cousin Gwenivere. If one of those cousins is ‘of age’ and you allow them to bring a date, add ‘and Guest’ to the person who is allowed to bring a date.


wedding rsvp card

And the most obvious but polite way to advise only invited are going to be admitted, is with the RSVP card. Make sure to have one first of all. I know it’s real tempting to to cut that out especially when you’re trying to stay within a budget, but the RSVP card is a must. It’s going to save you money in the long run. You have a couple options here.

  1. Don’t Leave Any Blanks. When completing your RSVPs, where it says, how many are RSVPing, put how many, don’t leave that to the guest to do. That can quickly go from ‘3’ to ‘7’ real fast. If someone DOES cross out the number you put and puts in a larger number (a smaller number isn’t a problem), call them. Let them know that you have only X amount of spaces available for their party and it can’t be increased. They’ll understand or they won’t go.
  2. Get Your ‘Special Guests’ Under Control. There’s always one person or a little group of people who believe the rules don’t apply to them. From what I’ve seen, it’s the family of those getting married: MIL & MOB to be specific. And they can be brutal with the guilt and the bargoning. “Honey it’s just one extra family. Don’t worry, I’ll pay for their table and food!” or “I’m not paying for any caterer if I can’t even invite my pastor from when I was 6 who lives 2 states over and I haven’t talked to in a decade!” Put your foot down and leave it down.
  3. Get Creative with Your Wording. Don’t just put, “Please RSVP by…” Leaving it up to the guest to RSVP is like waiting for Hell to freeze over. You be wishing and praying the RSVPs come in…. it feels awful to do that. Put something that let’s them know if they don’t RSVP, they ain’t going. “Please, RSVP before October 27, 2018. Only confirmed RSVPs will be admitted.” You want people to feel like they’re on a VIP guest list.
  4. It’s Okay to Follow-Up. Some people think that once you send out the RSVP, it’s rude to follow up on those RSVPs. What’s rude is a guest not RSVPing, costing you $55 a plate. However, don’t call the day after you mail out the invitations asking for RSVPs. About 4 weeks before the big event, start calling the stragglers. When you speak with them, advise that you need the RSVP to guarentee entry. Blame it on the venue, that they are big on attendence and won’t let you go over, not even by one person.
  5. Spread the Word. Mention it on your wedding website. Make sure your wedding party is letting everyone know. When anyone asks about the wedding, make sure you let them know: The guest list is restricted and that the RSVPs are being carefully accounted for entry. Guests speak with guests so once they get talking, everyone will know. 

Something to keep in mind: When making your guest list, know, right off the bat, there’s going to be about 25%-30% of invitees that aren’t going to show. They’re just not. I mention it because it may give you a little wiggle room to allow some other guests to bring people who aren’t on The List.

Carefully watching over your RSVPs is one of the biggest ways to save money, which in turn helps to make your wedding day everything you want it to be.


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