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Response Card Etiquette

Response Cards and RSVP Cards: The Favor of a Reply

When sending out invitations – specifically formal ones – etiquette says that a response card be included as well. This response card (also called RSVP card), along with a matching, self-addressed, stamped envelope, is the traditional way of requesting a response from invited guests. Simple in wording, the RSVP card serves a singular purpose: To inform the hosts of who will – and who will not – attend the event.

The Response Card

When including response cards, remember to keep the wording simple, clear, and courteous. No more than a few lines is typically needed. The wording should cover two elements:

• The reply by date
• Confirmation of attendance

In addition, response cards can also include a line about the menu, dress requirements (see below) or other small piece of necessary information.

Some response cards will use the phrase: 'Number of people in party.' This is just one more confirmation for you – the host. Knowing how many people will attend your event is a significant factor to a successful party. Every decision made – from seating to the menu to the venue size – hinges on a precise guest count. The response card is your assurance.

The Dos and Don'ts

The invitation and response card are the first impression you will make on guests. Thus, you'll want your invitation to convey the tone of your event: Formal or casual. This will also clue guests in on how to dress.

While traditional etiquette says it's improper to include anything about attire, it's hard to imagine anyone being offended by a small note confirming what to wear. For instance, 'Black Tie,' 'Festive Attire' or 'Dressy Casual,' will help guests better prepare for your event.

Above all, you want to make guests feel at ease from the start and stressing out over how to dress is never good. Thus in this instance, it's OK to break with etiquette and include a small note. You can also include it on the response card.

The response card could also tactfully note if children are allowed to attend. While this will already be covered by the invitation, the RSVP card is one last reminder. A common way of doing so is to include 'Adult reception' as a right footnote, which is a polite way of saying 'No children.'

Rιpondez, s'il vous plait

French for 'response, would you please' and the explanation for the abbreviation RSVP. You'll now understand why saying Please RSVP is both unnecessary and also inappropriate.

Once upon a time, the 'RSVP' request was made on the invitation itself and invited guests knew to 'reply' immediately – on personal stationery no less. Yet, as you can imagine, such etiquette was not followed by all and after one too many incorrect head counts, someone got the bright idea to create reply cards to simplify the process. With the invention, all guests had to do was fill out their names and their intent – by a specified date.

Ah yes, the 'specified date.' In order for guests to reply by a certain date, they must have enough time to make a decision. This is where etiquette comes into play once more. Invitations should be sent out early enough for guests to properly plan. Depending on the formality of the event, there is a bit of wiggle room as far as when to send out invitations. Yet, it's always better to be early than late.

For formal affairs or events where a gift is given (like a baby shower), you should send invitations out no later than six weeks before the celebration. Guests will then have about two weeks to decide, as RSVP cards should be returned three weeks prior to an event.

Keeping it Simple

Response cards and RSVP cards are small, they need to fit inside your invitation envelope, and range from simple to elegant. In fact, some are as simple as one line, with space left for a personal message from guests. You'll find we have several type of response cards to choose from. There are lots of different ways of asking for the 'favor of a reply.'

One little note: Most response card will have an 'M' line. We often get asked what that means. It's a way of starting 'Mr.,' 'Mrs.' or 'Miss' and the line is where attendees' write their names. Such wording is still commonly used for response cards today, especially for formal invitations. However, it's perfectly fine to substitute 'Names(s)' for the mysterious 'M.'

Below are a few examples of response card wording. Remember, when you place your order, you'll get to choose exactly how you want your response card worded. These are just a few examples.

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