Get wedding guests to RSVP on time with a secret deadline

Guest post by Hell Pollard

Something I see all the time is people sighing/complaining/fretting because their RSVP date has come and gone, yet only 50 of the 200 people invited have RSVPed at all. So, how do you get wedding guests to RSVP on time?!

From the get-go, my partner, Clay, and I knew we had to avoid these kind of shenanigans happening, what with the timing of our wedding being that I'm a student and our wedding is so close to graduation. And because we know our family and friends, and it was totally going to happen.

But we had a secret weapon to get wedding guests to RSVP on time

I work with literary magazines around my campus, and they have a brilliant strategy about submissions: TWO DEADLINES.

Here's how it works…

  • They send out the official announcement: “Hey! We're open for submissions! Email your stuff HERE by THIS DATE.”
  • Then when that date is around the corner, they do a second announcement: “Hey, we're extending our deadline to THIS DATE TWO WEEKS LATER!”

Clay and I agreed that we should apply this to our RSVP attitude, based on a couple of factors including that our wedding is on a Monday and it could take more time for people to know if they can attend a Monday wedding, and we know our family and friends can be a tad absent-minded.

How we got our wedding guests to RSVP on time

  • We decided on a date that would be perfect and a supreme miracle if everybody actually RSVPed by.
  • Then we decided on the date we would absolutely need to have all RSVPs by — no ifs, ands or oops I forgot.
  • We didn't tell anybody about this date, and agreed that if people really didn't RSVP by the first date, we'd gently nudge people to do so and give them the second date as their new deadline.

Well, our RSVP date just passed and, SHOCKER, our wedding guests did not RSVP on time. So we started our little reminder campaign; did a Facebook status, told a few folks in person, and posted it all on our website.

It's working beautifully…

People are apologetic and getting us our RSVPs good and timely. And, best of all, Clay and I aren't stressed about how little response we'd gotten. We prepared for it, and when that second date rolls by we were fine because we gave everybody plenty of time and notice and now it's on them if they didn't RSVP either way.

Get wedding guests to RSVP
This cute design is from Vistaprint

Can you use this hack to get YOUR wedding guests to RSVP on time?

Admittedly, this method may not work for everybody. We invited a total of maybe 60 people, and the event is really informal. We don't have vendors to notify for table numbers or anything: the worst that will happen if somebody shows up sans RSVPing is that somebody won't get one of the cool favors we're making.

But, I found it a really good way to not be stressed about having to ask for RSVPs: if the deadline is later you don't have worry (yet) about the numbers, and your invited feel better that they still get to say yes or no, and aren't totally putting you out.

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Comments on Get wedding guests to RSVP on time with a secret deadline

  1. Ha, I love this! We did the exact same thing with our lit mag in college. I’m sure my fiance will love this…a lit mag meeting is where we met!

  2. This. Is. BRILLIANT. I was just complaining last night about the inevitability of having this issue. What an awesome solution!

  3. I gave a deadline earlier than I really needed, to be able to call those who haven’t answered yet.
    I am not comfortable with the fake 2nd deadline, it feels like a white lie to me.

    • With respect I disagree. The second deadline is not a fake one but is the actual real deadline just with a safety early deadline in play.

    • Feels like more of an extension to me. Like when you set a due date for an assignment, you usually have a date in mind for the last day to take late assignments. You don’t want to mention it of course unless you’re deducting marks each day its late, because then everyone will wait for the last possible day.

    • Fantastic idea! Definitely going to consider using that when we send out invites. I don’t see it as a white lie, I think most people often have two deadlines without realising it in everyday life. You arrange to meet someone at 7, and they’re supposed to be there at 7, but if they miss that you don’t leave immediately, you have a “show up by this time or I go home and await my apology” deadline of say 7.45.

  4. So this is pretty much just…tell people an earlier date than you actually need them to RSVP by, right? So you have extra time to get the stragglers to respond? Like telling a chronically late friend that your party starts a half hour earlier than you tell everyone else?

  5. Gosh I thought people did this all the time!
    I know my manager does this. Whatever time estimates we give him, he multiplies by PI. Then adds 2 weeks. 😉
    And that’s the “real” delivery date.

  6. This is brilliant. 😀

    Will be suggesting this to the fiance. 🙂

    And @KathyRo, your manager wins, just for the multiplying by Pi. 😀

  7. I love this idea. I also used RSVPs for the purpose as you: so I’d know how many favors to pump out. I wanted to personalize the name tags for each one, and I’d hate to waste the time crafting them if people weren’t going to show.

    There is a joke among a few of us at our church that people in the church tend to operate on “Methodist Time.” So, if the service starts at 8:30, Methodists read it as 8:30-ish. Chronically late. I’ve been telling people they need to tell them it starts at 8 so people show up on time.

  8. WELLP. We gave everyone until Feb. 23rd (a month before the big day) and we sent the invites out just after Xmas. We’ve gotten, maaayyybeee 15 back out of 50. It’s annoying because, as you mention, it’s mostly family and I’m thinking they’re all just absent minded. It’s also just the whole “you know I’ll be there I don’t have to send one” crappola. I think maybe we can squeeze this 2nd RSVP idea in though. This is a great idea. I may use this image on our website or have him post it on Facebook and tage everyone in it.

  9. THIS IS BRILLIANT!!!!!!! It is working perfectly! I set a date for RSVPs and got 17/120 people respond I extended the due date and sent out reminders! I have 8 Count em _8_ people left to get an answer from. Now I’ve been hassleing those last 11 or so personally and on facebook today so that I get those last numbers! THIS TOTALLY ROCKS MY WORLD! THANK YOU!

  10. Completely brilliant!!! Love this idea! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

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