How To Deal With Guests Who Don't RSVP

One of our couples' most common questions is what to do if their guests don't RSVP. Since I know our upcoming brides will soon be looking for their RSVPs in the mail, it's time to address this topic again. There really is no perfect way to deal with this problem (and trust me - it can be a BIG problem), but here are my suggestions for how to deal with guests who don't RSVP!


A while back, I wrote a mini series all about invitations. (You can read all three posts here.) We talked about choosing a design, invitation etiquette and how to save big on your invitations. Today, I want to address a common question that many of our brides at The Barn have. How do I deal with guests who don't RSVP?

Erika Dotson Photography , from  Anita + Wesley 's elegant turquoise and coral wedding

Erika Dotson Photography, from Anita + Wesley's elegant turquoise and coral wedding

My best advice is to give the guests you haven't heard from a phone call about a week before your final head count is due to ask whether or not they're coming. If they haven't decided, allow them a couple of days to decide. Make sure they understand why you need to know whether or not they're coming: because you need to know how much food to order, how many seats you will need, and how to arrange your seating chart. 

The Barn's Instagram , from  Amanda + Tyler 's stunning wedding

The Barn's Instagram, from Amanda + Tyler's stunning wedding

Still, you may not hear back from everyone. In that case:

If your wedding is more on the formal side, with assigned seating at the reception, unexpected guests could cause a huge amount of stress. One idea to deal with unexpected guests is to have someone at the reception let them know that they're welcome to have a seat and eat dinner if some of your guests who did RSVP don't show up. They can hang out at the bar until after dinner and then join in for the rest of the festivities. Another option is to have an extra table with no assigned seating and order extra food. 

If your wedding is informal (with a buffet, or without assigned seating), it is always a good idea to overestimate by a little bit. Etiquette experts say to provide 25% more food than what you think you will need, in case any extra guests show up unexpectedly. Same goes with seating; you should have several more seats available than you expect to need.

Shingleur Photography , from  Brittany + Jacob 's gorgeous blue and coral wedding

Shingleur Photography, from Brittany + Jacob's gorgeous blue and coral wedding

A note to those who have been invited to an upcoming wedding: Please, please, please RSVP. I know firsthand how stressful it is to deal with guests who don't send back RSVP cards (or return your phone calls). When you send your RSVP back, stay with your answer! If you say you're coming, show up. And if you say you're not coming, don't come (unless, of course, you speak with the bride and groom and they say it's fine for you to come). 

Cottonwood Studios Worldwide , from  Ally + Tyler' s beautiful blue and pink wedding

Cottonwood Studios Worldwide, from Ally + Tyler's beautiful blue and pink wedding