In the past couple of weeks, I have done a number of wedding walk through’s here at The Leadership Center. They are one of my favorite things to do! It never fails during that time or during the meeting with Chef Susan when we’re discussing food, set-up, and ultimately, cost, that we get the following questions, “Do we do an RSVP or not?” or “Do people do RSVP’s anymore?” or “Is there a magic percentage you should just figure on attending versus doing an RSVP?” In response, we ask, “Do you have a crystal ball?” Laugh if you like, but it’s a good question.

RSVP means “Répondez s’il vous plaît” or respond please! You should always include an RSVP card (postage included) with your invitation to make it easier for your guest to get you the information you need for a successful event.

So back to the 3 questions we so often get:

  1. “Do we do an RSVP or not?” The answer is YES! YES! YES!!!
  2. “Do people still do RSVP’s any more?” Yes (and if not, they should!) I am a member of a number of other organizations and whether it is a  business meeting, committee meeting, luncheon or event, RSVP’s are mandatory. It makes planning far easier. It makes ordering food and supplies easier. It eliminates a part of the unknown and stress in planning.
  3. Is there a magic percentage to use versus doing an RSVP? Not really. Often times with food, a catering company may plan for 5 or 10 % over the number you give them as a back up, but as for the magical number, there really isn’t one.

Here are some of the major reasons why you should not only be doing RSVP’s for your event, you should be conscious of making sure you RSVP when requested (whether you are going or not):

  1. As a planner, it allows you to actually PLAN! You can figure out how much food, linens, meeting materials, favors, etc. you need.
  2. You can budget! Money doesn’t grow on trees and very rarely is it infinitely available, so having an idea of how much money you will need, makes planning far easier!
  3. It allows your vendors to help you be successful. If they know you are planning for 300 people you are setting tables of 6, it means you need 50 tables, 50 table clothes, 50 center pieces, 300 name cards, etc., ect., ect.
  4. It provides peace of mind. We joke at times that our job as a facility is very easy until you add people! The truth of the matter is, I would be out of a job if there weren’t people to serve. Budgets and details can be stressful, but eliminating some of the unknowns like numbers of people attending or not attending, takes a great deal of stress of your shoulders.
  5. If you’re the invitee and an RSVP is requested, it’s common courtesy to respond in a timely fashion. Think of a time when you were left wondering if you had enough chairs or food or space because someone didn’t tell you they were coming. Remember the feeling, don’t do that to your friend or the person who is inviting you! Be kind, RSVP in time!

A few blogs ago, Micheala, wrote about how technology is changing how people are both invited and RSVP to events. She mentioned that there are a number of online sites that allow you to both invite and manage RSVP’s! I really encourage you to check her blog out as it has a number of great resources to help make your event a success including counting those RSVPS! Click here to read!

Overall, collecting RSVP’s may not provide you with the exact number, but it gives a really good idea of where to start planning and provides with a good foundation on which to plan on.  I would also advise to plan a small percentage above your RSVP just in case, but be advised, whatever number you give your caterers, venue, etc. is the number you’ll be paying for!

One other quick detail. We have been asked if it’s okay to follow up an RSVP (especially for weddings) with a call if you haven’t heard from someone and the RSVP date has passed? Yes it is, especially if it’s someone you would expect to be there like your aunt & uncle or a close friend. It’s possible their invitation got lost in the mail or spam ate it. I know making that call might be slightly awkward, but so will a guest showing up and not having a spot to sit!

RSVP’s are not an exact science, but they are still a good practice. Good luck in planning and have a great day!

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