If you've been an invited wedding guest before, you know the drill: You receive the invitation and your response card, along with a due date indicating when you must let the bride and groom know whether or not you'll be in attendance. Sounds simple enough, right? But when you're on the other end of things—the bride and groom awaiting dozens of RSVPs—you realize things become a bit more complicated. You're at the mercy of your invited guests, and when people don't respond by the designated date, you're essentially required to track them down.
Should a couple anticipate the inevitable—that their guests won't respond in time—and reach out to them before the due date to get an answer? The answer, according to wedding experts, is a resounding "no." In fact, the pros agree that trying to track down invited ahead of the "RSVP by" date you've outlined on your invitations is seen as a rude. "With invites, it's important to stay organized and calm throughout the entire process," says Sabrina Zeile of Weddings By Sabrina. "I think couples are often eager to cut their guest count due to costs per person, but the response due date should be at least three weeks before your wedding, which gives guests enough time to decide if they can attend." By reaching out for an answer before then, your guests may not have a chance to make travel arrangements, request time off work, or determine if it's in their budget to attend.
If you fear that stress over the bottom line is what would force you to track down RSVPs early, the best thing you can do is only invite the number of guests you can afford to host. Kimberly Lehman of Love, Laughter & Elegance says that most brides and grooms anticipate a certain number of invited guests will decline the invitation, but that's risky business—if they don't, you're on the hook financially for the group. She recommends creating an "A list" and "B list." "For every person on the 'A' list of invitees who declines, an invitation could be sent to a guest on the 'B' list," she explains. In order to do this successfully, you'll need to set an early RSVP date and have two sets of invitations (one with an early RSVP date and another with a later one) printed.
If you've already sent your invitations and realize that the RSVP deadline you listed is too late, you have a few options, explains Lindsey Nickel, wedding planner and owner of Lovely Day Events. "The couple could send a quick and polite text to each guests, if there are not a ton or she could send a paperless post invite to the guests and request them to RSVP sooner via that link." No matter what you'd do, you should apologize for asking for their response early, explain why you've reached out ahead of the RSVP date, and express understanding if they need more time to finalize their plans.
As in all situations, the couple should handle themselves with as much grace, tact, and patience as possible adds Lehman. "The last thing a couple wants to do is to become stressed out over the guest count." Keep calm and remember that once the due date has passed, you have full permission to start tracking those RSVPs!