Monday, April 21, 2014

10 Ways to Get Guests to RSVP

R.S.V.P. stands for a French phrase, "répondez, s'il vous plaît," which means "please reply."

In other words, will you be coming to the event or not?

One would think that it is common etiquette to RSVP, but many are wondering if the days of the RSVP are long gone.  More than not these days those four little letters go unnoticed leaving party hostesses scratching their heads and biting their nails before the big event.
Thankfully, there are ways that you can encourage your guests to RSVP.

Here are a few tips to make sure that you get the response you need when sending out invites.

1.  Send them out on time!
You can't blame guests for not responding if you send out your invites right before the event.  That is why it is important to send them out well in advance.  Of course, this time varies by the event type.
For weddings, it is recommended that invitations be sent out eight weeks before the wedding at the latest.  This gives guests four to five weeks to respond, so you can make your RSVP date three to four weeks before the wedding.
For company picnics, as soon as you have a date and time, send out a save-the-date.  To get the best turnout, at least eight weeks notice is also recommended.  However, with company picnics you'll have the option to send out more reminders, as well as post flyers around your office.  You'll want to build excitement for the event, so more than one invitation will be needed (more on that later!).
For children's birthday parties, send the invitations out three weeks in advance and ask for the RSVP one week out.  The only exception is for summer parties when children are busier.  Then it is recommended to send the invites out at least a month in advance.  

2.  Mail invitations on a Wednesday.
Or at least mail them towards the middle of the week.  Weekday mail often gets put in a "to-read" pile.  Mailing invites toward the middle of the week ensures that it gets there on the weekend and is at the top of the pile.  Plus, since it is the weekend your guests will be more likely to respond when they open the invitation.  

3.  Utilize an online invitation service.
Although they lack the formality of a paper invitation, online invitations such as Evite are much easier for guest to RSVP to.  There are several providers to choose from including Punchbowl, Sendomatic, and even Facebook events.  What's nice is that most of these are free, so you can even send them in addition to your paper invite with no extra cost.  However, if you are planning a formal event, stick to the paper invitation.  Since online invitations are casual, it can send a mixed message about what to expect if they are sent for a formal party.

4.  Explain what RSVP means.
Some guests may not know what RSVP means.  So, instead of writing "RSVP by [date], say something along the lines of "Please respond by [date]" or "The favor of a reply is requested by [date]."  

5.  Make the RSVP date prominent and urgent.
On many invitations, the reply date is tiny and in the corner where it is easily overlooked or seems unimportant.  Choose to make the date prominent on the card.  It is also a good idea to provide a date as well as a sense of urgency to RSVP'ing.  For example, instead of just "Please RSVP" say "Please respond by June 11th so there isn't a pizza shortage!"  Our brains respond to scarcity, so phrases like this are more likely to get a response.

6. Avoid asking for "Regrets Only."
Asking for "regrets only" can quickly turn into a party disaster.  Instead, expect that your family and friends will happily send in their RSVP's.

7.  Make it clear whether guests are included.
When you send out your invites, make it very clear whether it is intended for just the person receiving it or if they are allowed to bring a guest (or even multiple guests).  While people are more likely to attend an event if they are allowed to bring someone, sometimes that isn't always possible.  So, be clear on your invites as to who is invited.  For weddings, don't leave your guests wondering if they can bring a date.  For company picnics, make it clear that they need to respond with how many members are included in their family.  As for birthday parties, it can get a little tricky.  Many times parents worry over whether or not to include guest's siblings.  If your intent is to just invite the child, you can state on the invitation "Due to space limitations at the party venue, we cannot accommodate siblings" or something along those lines.  
8.  Provide alternate ways to RSVP.
Instead of just responding by phone, provide e-mail addresses or even a website where guests can RSVP (e-vites make this easy!).  You can even include "Text or Call [phone number] to respond."  Many guests might hesitate to text at first, but if it is clearly stated on the invitation then they will find it okay.  Remember, the point is to get the responses no matter how they do it.

9.  Send out a reminder!
There is nothing wrong with sending out a reminder e-mail or online invite a few days before the RSVP count is due.  Websites like Evite do this on their own, another reason why online invitations are becoming so popular.

10.  When in doubt, call!
Let's face it, people forget! So, feel free to call people who haven't responded to see if they received the invitation and plan to attend.  However, if you follow the tips and tricks above, hopefully you won't have to do this step.

Have a great day, y'all!

~ Your Friends at Faulkner's

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