3 ways to chase down RSVPs from lazy guests

April 3 | Guest post by thymeonmyside
When your "smart conversation rsvp" isn't the end of your rsvp conversations.

I'm five weeks out from my wedding, and I'm still missing about 30% of my RSVPs. We won't get into why it's so hard for people to send in a pre-addressed stamped card, send an email, type out a text, or make a phone call, but we all know it is.

Lucky for you, I've learned a couple of things in the process of thinking about how to chase people down…

Set a deadline that's two weeks prior to when you need it

If my deadline had been two weeks ago, I would have had a buffer. I would have had time to chase people down without feeling stressed about it. Instead, my RSVP deadline isn't for another week, but my mail has slowed significantly and I'm not really expecting all of the replies to come back as soon as I need them.

Use Facebook lists

Don't know how? See this post. The beauty of the Facebook list is that no one knows they're on it. I created a list with all the people who hadn't RSVP'd, and posted a chipper status reminding "everyone" to send in their responses by the card, email, or Facebook message, and just made that status private to everyone on the list. I got more cards over the next few days, and a couple Facebook messages. I also didn't harass people over Facebook who either already sent in their response or weren't invited in the first place, and I didn't have to call anyone out by name.

Get your parents involved

Most of the missing RSVPs were our parents' people, not ours. Extended family, family friends, etc. So we sent out the following email to each parent (we have five sets; complicated family tree):

Dear [Parent],
We're sending each parent a list of "their" people who haven't yet RSVP'd. We'd really appreciate your help in tracking them down!

  • The Smiths
  • Aunt Patsy
  • Uncle Bob
  • The Hamiltons
  • The Lambs

Thanks and love you, Thymeonmyside and future-husband

That netted me an email from my future father-in-law telling me that everyone in North Dakota was not coming, but expressing his shock that they hadn't RSVP'd; a text from my dad saying he would talk to his siblings this week, but that my aunt was coming alone; some Facebook messages from my mom's friends, to whom I assume she just forwarded my email; and a much calmer bride.

I know that these tactics won't take care of everyone. I'll still have to start chasing people down individually in a week or so, but these strategies really have lightened my load.

What other creative ways have you come up with to hunt down your errant RSVPs?

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  1. That fb list thing is genious – I wish I would have know about it before I got married. Would have saved a ton of time

    10 agree
  2. YES to the setting the RSVP date before you need it. My future husband and I have a tendency to tell his father to be somewhere a half hour before we actually want/need him there because he has a tendency to be late. The same makes sense for RSVPs. There is always someone who misses a deadline and thinks "close enough".

    7 agree
  3. I totally used all of these. Unfortunately for me, the facebook lists only netted me 1 RSVP despite multiple reminder messages.

    My deadline was April 1. As of that day, I had more than 50% of RSVPs not returned. So I went and sent an individual message to each person who hadn't yet RSVP'd, that was worded as such:

    "Hey, I noticed you hadn't RSVP'd for the wedding yet. If you could get us an answer either way by the 10th, it'd be great. The website to RSVP at (wedding site url here)."

    This made it that if they wanted to, they could talk to me where I messaged them. Or they could avoid me and go straight to the website. Now I've only got 2 stragglers who haven't RSVP'd, and one of those did contact me with a good reason why they won't know until later in the month. So all is good.

    6 agree
  4. When a cousin married, he put his mother in charge of rounding up the RSVP stragglers – he took full advantage of the "crazy mother of the groom" stereotype, and his mom felt useful. His future bride didn't have to deal with the RSVP drama, either.

    So, maybe a fourth method if you plan soon enough? Delegate.

    12 agree
  5. We had buffer time of a couple weeks, but when that was almost over, I or FH called everyone who hadn't yet responded. For those who said they couldn't come, at least we got a nice chat out of it. People don't expect a phone call about this sort of thing (or anything, these days) and it reminds them that our wedding is super-important to us!

    4 agree
  6. We're about to send out invites and I'm definitely employing some of these. First off, I have built in a big buffer zone for getting the RSVPs back so that if they aren't all in on time, it won't be a huge deal. Second, we're asking for responses via email or phone/text and are hoping that the convenience will help out. After that, if people don't RSVP on time, we will be contacting them through the pertinent family in order to get them all.

    1 agrees
  7. We ran into the same thing: About 40% of our list (almost exclusively his side of the tree) seems to be completely unable to figure out how to navigate an RSVP card. 10 days before due date, I messaged everyone on Facebook. I got replies from everyone on my side… nothing from his side. 1 day before due date (which was still 2-3 weeks before we needed our final catering count), I send out MORE messages on Facebook and start screaming at the husband. Two of them managed to figure out the RSVP on the website, but even then a majority of them were complaining that our site "won't let them in." It's a public site. I'm just convinced they wanted an excuse to not RSVP. Come due date, I mandated that everyone who did NOT RSVP needs a phone call STAT.

    Good thing I did. Six of the people who previously said they likely wouldn't be coming now were. There were at least three random plus-ones that got tacked on. Oh and did I mention the wedding crasher who read about it on Facebook and texted an RSVP to my husband, having never gotten an invitation in the first place? Yeah. That happened. My intimate private wedding of MAYBE 50 people suddenly exploded into 65 in a matter of hours. That led to panicked calls to the ceremony site to see if we could even fit all these people at the venue for the ceremony, and a discovery that we could fit an additional 10 people and still not max it out.

    2 agree
    • Knowing our margins has definitely helped de-stress us a bit. A whole lot of things happened at once and our "we don't want to have to play friendship survivor" discussion came back to "FUCK IT invite everyone. The theme of the wedding is, The More the Merrier!" Rather than stressing about how to tell my mom I didn't want to invite her cousins I'd never met just because we invited the ones I liked, or how to tell my partner's recently-widowed mom that her only friends there would be family, we ended up in a venue that has a max capacity higher than our guest list and self-catering so that we can fiddle with head counts until a week out. I mean there was more to it than that, but that's where were at with it. But shhhh don't tell our guests that we've arranged it this way, I definitely want to get RSVPs in sooner 😉

      2 agree
  8. Having a short time frame for RSVPs deadline definitely helped, in my case. 90% of invited family members responded.

    Also, having a wed site helped with RSVPs. One of the many reasons why people forget to RSVP is that they might have misplaced the invite card. Providing a RSVP link to a Google Form on a restricted folder on Google Drive also helps put guests' minds at ease about giving out private information, such as phone numbers and allergies.

    Electronically inviting guests also cuts responses time. How to do this? If you DIY'ed your wedding invites in Word Doc, you can save as PDF. Just one thing: customize the template to show your guests' names, before you export to PDF format. Attach to email. Send. (Pro: Postage-free, especially for international guests)

    2 agree
    • The wedding website idea has had its own share of stresses. Fortunately, not a single one of them has involved questioning whether someone got their save the date. Even if they RSVP'd, I know whether they opened the email, and whether they clicked through to the website. I'm surprisingly much calmer dealing with "Huh, I wonder why your link isn't working" discussions and repeatedly asking "what's your email?" than I am with being frustrated someone hasn't RSVPd only to find out they never got their invite. I ended up sending save the dates to everyone, just to make sure everyone has received the emails from us and can get into the website over the course of 3 months, so that when the invites go out we aren't dealing with as many technical difficulties. The stress and frustration is of a similar caliber to dealing with paper invites, but if someone loses their invite it's nothing to send another or they can search their email for it, and we saved a ton of cash.

      1 agrees
  9. These are all great suggestions! Wish I had known about the private Facebook lists.
    I sent the email below to the people on my guest list that had not responded and the responses were immediate.

    "Dear_____,

    We hope you can make it to our wedding! We wanted to send a quick reminder that we need you to please RSVP by ______, 2014 to reserve your seats.

    We will be sending out a second round of invitations on ______,2014 so we will be releasing the reserved seats if we don't have your response by _______, 2014. We hope you can make it!

    12 agree
  10. We made a Facebook event and invited everyone on there after the RSVP deadline went by and we were at 50% responses. That shook a few people out of the woodwork. I also got my parents to hassle their siblings, and learned that some of them had RSVP'd to my parents but not to me, which I can't even fathom.

    1 agrees
    • I've had a couple people do that, as well. It's how it used to be done, when parents threw the wedding more often. What I don't understand is the decision to completely disregard the very clear instructions on which phone number to call if they want to RSVP by phone.

      1 agrees
  11. My issue has been the USPS either not delivering the invites, RSVPs not being delivered to us, or people going…OH CRAP YEAH…
    we are two weeks out and still missing about 80 responses….
    But you can't post something on your facebook wall because then you get those people saying, "I haven't gotten my invite yet…" cus ur not invited sorry….

    So I've resorted to facebook, text messages, and parents. Asking the person, "Hey what's going on? Did you happen to get your invitation? No? well crap…(it was only sent 3 weeks ago…) Well you are invited, we'd love to have you, here's our wedding site, if I have any spare invites I'll make sure you get it. OR You did? fantastic! Have you had a chance to send in your RSVP? etc….

    This has been the most frustrating part. I can't solidify the number of tables needed for my florist or venue. And I need to start paying people (like the florist) next week….

    1 agrees
  12. Just YES! We have gone the entirely digital route (via greenvelope.com) and it has been really wonderful, and easy, a stress-relieving to see the "Yes's" and "No's" add up, and get put into a pie chart and…and..AND YET, we are 4 weeks away from our wedding and still have about 30% of people who haven't RSVP'd. And all we require is to click on the "RSVP link, choose "Attending" or "Not Attending" and hit Submit. That's it! No envelopes to seal, no post boxes to walk to, no nothing. Click and submit.

    Our deadline is TOMORROW, June 30th. On the invitation we have set it so that no one can RSVP after this date. I chose this date because it is 2 weeks before the final walk through with our caterers and venue, and it is 3 weeks before the drop-dead head count has to be in to the caterers. So for those who want to RSVP (and we will be doing the mandatory follow-up calls and emails) after June 30th they will be forced to communicate with us – uncomfortably, awkwardly, whatever it is that has some folk terrified of communication, they will be forced to do it. Oh, and did I mention one of our outstanding RSVP's is from a couple who yadda-yadda'd all over Fbook about how people weren't RSVP'ing and how hard was it to…Honestly, you just have to laugh.

    Actually early on in this whole invite-RSVP thing I remember a friend told me that the people who can come to the wedding will be the first to RSVP – those that wait the longest are usually procrastinating because they don't want to say no, even though they will likely have to. So, for me it helped to just sort of say to myself that at this point – 1 day away from RSVP deadline – I can probably count those not-yet-RSVP'd out. 🙂

    3 agree
  13. I don't want to sound like a grouchy mean old lady. But I won't be chasing ANYONE down. We will give a deadline (point of a deadline is that if you do not meet it, there are consequences!) and I will politely and calmly let my invited guests know that, if we don't receive an answer by the deadline we will assume they are not attending.

    15 agree
    • yep I agree. I am doing the same thing. Our rsvp's are due back in 2 days and about 5 people haven't even mentioned if they got their invite. They know when the wedding is and they know we've sent the invites and that they are invited so, they would have said something if they haven't received them… If I have no received your RSVP in 2 days, than you will not have food. A seat – yes but no food.

      1 agrees
  14. Awesome list! Thankfully all my guests RSVPd before time. Only bummer is we had a guy RSVP and then not show up. He facebooked another guest saying "CHUUURRR got a bbq and beers on if you wanna come", and they replied, "actually we're at R & M's wedding, aren't you supposed to be here too?" to which they got no reply, and my husband struck him off his list of friends. 🙂 No loss, IMHO!

    1 agrees
  15. Calling guests "lazy" just because they haven't R.S.V.P.'d leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You could have no idea why someone hasn't R.S.V.P.'d. They may be dealing with an illness, a hospitalized family member, a personal issue. Who knows? It certainly wouldn't hurt to try and contact people. I know a few years ago, my parents were invited to the wedding of a friend's daughter (who they had known her whole life) Well, there was too much mail to fit all into their PO Box so the post office decided to hold it for them. Only they never received notification and it was never put in the box once there was room. They didn't get it for a month+. The bride had elected to not check in with them, unfortunately, and so my parents ended up missing the wedding of an important family friend. No laziness there.

    2 agree
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