If you’ve ever been married you know first-hand how much pressure is placed on the wedding couple to follow tradition, practice proper etiquette and avoid faux pas. Most weddings, unfortunately, do not come without some form of criticism from guests (invited or uninvited) in regards to missteps that the couple may have made in their roles as hosts. However, most guests do not realize that certain etiquette is expected of them in return.
Much of the consideration that brides, grooms and their respective families give to planning every detail of the event is, in essence, an attempt to make their guests feel warm and welcome. Guests, in return, have an obligation to demonstrate good manners and be considerate of their hosts.
One of the most important obligations of a guest is to immediately respond to a wedding invitation. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from a bride that she cannot believe how many people have not yet RSVP’d to her wedding—and then vows to never be a “non-responder” when she is invited to a wedding in the future.
RSVP stands for the French phrase “respondez, s’il vous plait,” which simply means “please reply.” In Western society we have carried on many of the wedding traditions established by Europeans in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Tradition and etiquette calls for prompt replies to wedding invitations because it displays consideration to the hosts and allows them to plan for your attendance or absence appropriately.
Traditionally, replies were made to the couple via handwritten notes which were mailed back upon receipt of a wedding invitation. Modern times, however, have made the RSVP’ing process even more convenient. Enclosed in your wedding invitation you will find a reply card with which an addressed, stamped envelope is typically included. All you have to do is pen your name on the line, check off your meal choice (sometimes) and pop it in the mailbox.
And to make RSVP’ing even easier, many couples send save the dates in advance of the wedding invitation. This gives their guests plenty of notice for the upcoming wedding date. So, if you already know whether or not you can make it to the wedding, imagine how happy the bride and groom would be to receive that reply card days after sending out the wedding invitations! Your hosts will appreciate your good manners.