What to Do if You Haven’t Received an RSVP on Time

A wedding invitation suite with flowers and kraft paper accents.

It’s really happening now: your guests are sending in their RSVPs to your wedding and the official guest list is starting to come together. But once the RSVP deadline you set has passed, what do you do about the stragglers?

There are inevitably guests who are going to forget to RSVP to events, but when you need to know the final guest count to tell the venue and caterer, it can be an extra annoyance. While you understand that everyone gets busy and sometimes things get lost in the shuffle, it’s still important that you know exactly how many guests are attending your wedding to get things finalized. Here’s how to handle late RSVP-ers in stride.

Double-Check that They Actually Haven’t RSVPed

Before you approach someone with the accusation that they haven’t RSVPed to your wedding, you might want to double-check your numbers. If you haven’t already, start a spreadsheet of who was invited, whether or not they were sent an invitation, and how they RSVPed (this should include “yes,” “with regrets,” and whether or not they are bringing a plus-one). You definitely want to avoid the embarrassing situation of reminding someone to RSVP when they, in fact, have already RSVPed.

Give Them an Extra Couple of Days

A journal and cup of coffee with some lavender sprigs.

Everyone knows that planning a wedding is stressful, but you don’t want to get a reputation of being a high-strung bride or groom by reaching out to guests the day after the RSVP deadline. People get busy and your wedding isn’t the only thing going on in their lives. Giving them an extra couple of days allows for some extra cushion if it happened to slip their mind.

Know When Your Deadlines are for the the Venue and Vendors

You set your RSVP deadline so that you could get the final tallies to the baker, caterer, and wedding venue in plenty of time. However, with your straggler RSVP-ers it’s a good idea to know when each wedding professional needs to be informed of the guest total. Keep those dates in mind as you begin to reach out to each guest so that you can give them a deadline of when you need to know their response.

Approach them in a Gentle, Friendly Way

Someone using a smartphone to send emails.

When you start to reach out to your late RSVP-ers, be sure to approach them in a gentle and friendly way. Even if you are slightly (and justifiably) annoyed, it’s never a good idea to start out a conversation with hostility. They will, after all, be your guest in just a few short weeks. It’s never too early to start being accommodating.

Typically, the easiest way to ask them about their RSVP is to write a short email that more or less sounds like the following:

Hi (Guest Name),

I want to follow up with you and see if you’re able to attend our wedding on September 5. We are trying to get an accurate count for the caterer and I want to ensure we have enough food/could get your menu preferences to them. If you could let me know whether or not you can attend by August 15, that would be great.

I hope you’re doing well!


If your guests are notorious for not responding to email, try giving them a text instead.

What Do I Do if They Still Don’t Follow Up?

If you’re in the unfortunate situation of being in limbo with a guest or two who didn’t respond to your initial followup, you should give them a personal call to confirm whether or not they can attend. It may be a bit awkward, yes, but it’s better that you know so that you can get those final guest counts to every wedding professional who needs them.

You don’t have to say anything apologetic or come up with any excuses, but simply just ask them whether or not they can attend. Hopefully they will be understanding and will likely be apologetic for not taking the time to respond initially. If a phone call goes unanswered, the best way to treat this particularly pesky guest is as a “with regrets” RSVP.

Know that Guests Might Still Show Up

Even though you’ve gone through the painstaking process of sending out invitations, requesting RSVPs, and following up with your guests, know that it’s still possible you will get guests who just show up out of nowhere. This is expected for a wedding and your caterer should come prepared with extra food just in case. Your venue should also have an extra table that’s arranged for those who didn’t RSVP or who RSVPed at the last minute. Try not to sweat it: remember, the more the merrier.

Find Amazing Vendors