Popping the Question: ‘Will you R.S.V.P. already?”

by epi on March 7, 2012

Q: We are approaching the deadline for our R.S.V.P. date, and some have not responded.  As I am the mother of the bride, the R.S.V.P. replies come to my home.  May I call the people who have not yet responded?

A: Pick up your phone pronto!  It is perfectly O.K. to call and ask (politely, of course) each tardy guest for a reply: “We hope you have received the invitation to Sharon and Josh’s wedding on the 24th and that you can join us.”  If you get the answering machine, add a time by which you’d like to hear back.  As annoying — and rude — as it is when a guest fails to reply to an invitation that requests a yes or no, resist the temptation to chew out the invitee.  At this point, what would you gain?  Plus, there is the possibility (it does happen) that the invitation failed to reach the intended recipient.  Failure to R.S.V.P. is epidemic.  R.S.V.P., the abbreviation of the French phrase “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” means “please respond.”  These days, it’s hard to plead ignorance of the abbreviation when the answer is just a Google search away.  It’s also hard to imagine the excuse, especially when it’s a simple matter of checking a box on a reply card, clicking on an e-mail address or making a phone call.  Too busy?  Waiting for something better to come along?  Note to invitees: Save your host the hassle of having to ask you twice.  Just do it.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Alicia March 7, 2012 at 10:40 am

Yes call or email guests who do not Reply by the RSVP date but give them until the RSVP date before you start calling.


asmb March 7, 2012 at 11:14 am

RSVPs _do_ get lost in the mail. I followed up with people who I knew were not the type to not respond – their response cards just hadn’t made it to me. Yes, it’s a little awkward, but far more often than not, it was a mail error.


Winifred Rosenburg March 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Far more often than not is an exaggeration. Yes, it does occasionally happen, but not that often. For my wedding, by the time the RSVP date arrived I still hadn’t heard from over 50 families. It turned out one of them had never received their invitation. The rest just dropped the ball.


Elizabeth March 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I’d definitely give my guests at least until the RSVP date to respond. Mail errors do occur, but so does life! We all get busy and forget the little card we attached to our fridge with the magnet. A sweet and simple “I hope you can join us, please let me know, we’d love to have you there!” would do the trick. :)


Vanna Keiler March 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I agree with all these responses. It can be very frustrating to plan when you don’t have a final head count yet. If some of the invitees have email, perhaps send a general friendly reminder to the lax about the RSVP date having passed, and/or follow up with a telephone call. “We wanted to confirm you have received our wedding invitation. As we would love to see you there, please let us know if you will be attending so we can reserve your seat by (date)” or something to that effect. If after your second deadline has passed and no response, assume the invitees are not attending and move forward with the wedding preparations! I think a second reminder is sufficient for people to come forward – assume those who still do not are sincerely not interested in attending and/or probably would not be available.


Ace March 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Please advise if our daughter must extend a bridesmaid invite to our new daughter-in-law who married our son in Oct 2011.

Our son’s wife is extremely hard working as a first year associate at a NYC major law firm. She is expected to put in long hours and has admirably done so.

Our engaged daughter says she does not really know her so has limited her bridal party to just her very old friends. However, our son has been asked to be a groom, so his new wife will seated at the bridal party table. hence, she can enjoy the privileges of bridesmaid without the concomitant time commitment.

Can our daughter ask our son’s wife be a reader and thus obviate her showing up for the showers, bridesmaid batchlorette party, etc. which could all conflict with her very demanding job and indifferent legal bosses whose only mission is to get her to burn the midnight oil for the firm’s clients.

Thanks for an illuminating answer and I apologize for possibly appending this onto a RSVP question.

Respectfully submitted,


Just Laura March 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Please don’t apologize for the placement of your question – we see it anyway, and are happy to help. :)

Your daughter may or may not extend a bridesmaid invitation to whomever she pleases. There is no rule for number of bridesmaids, size/shape/height/gender of bridesmaids, nor whether they should be related to the bride or groom by blood. Normally, the bride chooses her nearest friends and/or family. Honestly, this is the bride’s and groom’s wedding, so it is solely up to them who should read/serve as ushers or attendants/etc.

Additionally, if your daughter chooses to ask the new daughter-in-law, the daughter-in-law may always politely decline. That is her decision to make, as she is the one who knows her schedule best.


Jody March 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Ace — I’m with those who say it’s the bride’s decision on who to include and she shouldn’t be badgered.

Is it possible for the bride to ask your DIL to give a reading or do something similar? That would allow her to be included but not require that the bride replace a bridesmaid.


ace March 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

Yikes ! I still need your thoughts.

It seems our newly engaged daughter and I concur with your first paragraph.

However, my wife and our Oct 2011 married son[who dated his wife for 3 years with 1 year overlap at the same college as our now engaged daughter. However, they never became pals there] is pushing his lawyer wife candidacy for bridesmaid over the selection of a few gals she has already selected. In full disclosure, both the newly engaged daughter and our younger single daughter were included as bridesmaids in our son’s Oct 2011 wedding.

My wife’s line is she’s trying to integrate my son’s wife into the family and she does not want to have to explain to her friends the bridal picture 10 years from now w/o our son’s wife in the picture . She infers that this bridal exclusion now may irreparably damage our son’s wife relationship with our family if not asked. I obviously think this is a bit over the top.

I’m in the middle of this donnybrook with a crying depressed newly engaged daughter who feels our son’s wife has not shared the same experiences as her chosen childhood/college buddies and therefore doesn’t pass the high buddy threshold for her bridesmaid choice. Meanwhile, my stubborn better have is asserting herself to the point where our daughter’s fiancee has sent her to an email brief defending our engaged daughter’s non selection.

Please provide a Solomon-like solution to my predicament to find a truce that works.

Many thanks in advance!


Just Laura March 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

It is your engaged daughter’s wedding. It is not your wife’s wedding. It is not your son’s wedding. The bride is being forced (and if the poor thing is crying, then she’s clearly being badgered) to have someone in her bridal party she doesn’t want. Would you allow a stranger to treat her this way?

The people included as bridesmaids in previous weddings has no bearing on this wedding. They are separate events for different people.

Do you really think that 10 years from now some random friend is going to peer at a decade-old photograph over tea and ask why someone wasn’t included in the bridal party? You mentioned that your son’s wife will still get to sit with your son at the wedding and reception anyway, so she obviously isn’t being shunned. I’m sure your wife is a lovely person – why else would you have married her? But making her own daughter cry with frustration during what should be a happy time in her life is, frankly, acting like a M-O-Bridezilla.


Elizabeth March 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

While I do agree with Laura, I can also see the other side of this issue. My sister and mother are having similar power struggles, only in my family it happens to be over the inclusion of a cheese and veggie tray during the passed hors d’oeuvres. (I know, first world problems!)

If your son is campaigning for his wife to be involved, it’s obviously because she really wants to be, and has asked your son to do this. I would guess that she’s hurt that she hasn’t been asked, since your daughter stood up in her wedding. While I do this it’s your daughter’s right to choose whoever she wants in her bridal party, she could also learn something about being politic – that sometimes it’s better to be nice and to be diplomatic rather than to exclude someone on principle. I know, on her end, she’s saying “What does it matter if she’s not in the bridal party?” I would counter with, “What does it matter if she is?” One more person in the photos, one more person at the mani-pedi party? While it is the bridge and groom’s “day,” it’s also a family celebration, and sometimes as a family member one has to (or should) do things that are good for the family.

Again, my guess is that son’s wife wants to be closer with your daughter and family in general, and I think it would be magnanimous of daughter to include her. Of course, if she ultimately decides against it, your son and DIL should carry on with dignity and just drop it.


Just Laura March 15, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Thanks for the fresh perspective. I think I’d be interested to hear from ace’s daughter herself about this.


Winifred Rosenburg March 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I agree with Elizabeth. Although technically the bride is not required to ask anyone to be a bridesmaid, asking family members provides a wonderful opportunity to develop family ties. I would think of it not as “these are the people who have been with me up until not” but rather “these are the people who I would like to be an important part of my married life.” When you think of it this way it makes a lot of sense for her sister-in-law to be a bridesmaid. I think with the exception of extreme circumstances every bride should ask their sisters, sisters-in-law, and the groom’s sisters to be bridesmaids. I would also like to add that there is no limit to the number of bridesmaids, nor is it required for there to be equal numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen so adding one doesn’t have to mean taking one away.


Ashleigh March 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Try presenting it to your wife this way: If your daughter’s bridesmaids are composed of old, close friends, I imagine it would be *incredibly* awkward for her new sister in law. The girls will sit around reminiscing about fun times in the past and clearly have a strong bond and her SIL will be the outsider trying to fit in but not part of the pack. That will make for a miserable left-out night for your DIL and a miserable trying-to-make-her-feel-included night for your daughter.

Is your daughter at all comfortable with your DIL? Is your DIL aware of the bridesmaid drama? Perhaps it might be a good idea to tell your daughter to have a heart to heart with DIL and let her know that she would love to get to know her in the future and look forward to building a friendship, but for her wedding day she has chosen her lifelong/high school/college/whatever friends. Then your daughter can tell your wife that she and your DIL have figured it out together and your wife can try to step back.

Best of luck!!! It’s no fun to be caught in the middle :(


Nina March 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm

This wouldn’t apply in all situations–I don’t know the complete details here, but I’m wondering if your daughter does actually like the new sister-in-law, why she might not just *add* her to the bridal party. It’d be pretty miserable to ditch a life-long friend just to satisfy family wishes, but she shouldn’t be forced to make that decision–bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t have to be even-steven numbers. It’s a different question if the bride and potential maid don’t actually get along, or know each so little as to be uncomfortable together, but if they are reasonably friendly, the more the merrier, right?


Melissa June 9, 2012 at 3:06 am

Siblings of the bride and groom are one thing, though still the choice of the bride and groom, siblings-in-law are another. Here’s another thought about future pictures – What if the brother and sister-in-law get divorced and in 10 years there’s an ex-SIL in pictures? The current bride was in her brother’s wedding, he’ll always be her family. What the mother is looking for is the in-law to be in the wedding, not the sibling. There’s a big difference and it’s definitely the bridal couple’s decision.


ace March 15, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Thank you all fine ladies for your thoughts and ideas. I think we’ve finally crossed the Rubicon.

My wife and engaged daughter both have seen the merits of their respective individual positions and appear to be moving toward our son’s wife as a reader so that she has a participatory position. Our son is happy as she will sit at the bridal table and is indeed part of the wedding party process.

Again, thanks for a much appreciated communicated solution.


AntoniaB April 1, 2012 at 8:48 am

That’s a great solution.

One more thing Ace – make sure your son’s wife is included in some formal photos, all morning of the the wedding events scheduled (trip to beauty parlor, brunch). This is an easy thing to do and will help with the diplomacy part of the equation.

If your daughter and wife keep on the ‘she should feel welcome and included’ hat then it will create familial warmth all round. I say this because I also get the impression she was feeling left out and shunned by her ‘new family’ – just bear that in mind.


Margaret Angell September 10, 2012 at 8:49 am

Our 50th wedding anniversary is in November… In August, we sent out “Save the Date” cards with an RSVP date (by telephone). If people do not RSVP by the mid-September date, are we still obligated to send an invitation for our anniversary celebration to each invitee on the “Save the Date” list?


Alicia September 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

Yes. Save the dates are not invitations and should not require RSVP. When you send a save the date you are letting people know that you will be inviting them to an event on that day. The only obligation is to you to follow through and incvite them. RSVPs are not required as people are not required to know their calendar that far in advance and it was not a real invite. Send invites to everyone on the save the date lists and then ask for RSVPs then due no more then 2 or three weeks in advance of the event.


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