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Anatomy of a Reply Card

The who, what, when, where and why of wedding invitation response cards. I get more questions regarding reply cards than any other. Reply cards are also known as RSVP cards. To begin with, RSVP stands for répondez s’il vous plaît. In French, “please respond”. You must have some way to let your guests tell you that they are, or are not attending your wedding.

We never put response requests ON our formal invitations. No matter how small your budget, it is never done. Printing this on the formal invitation gives one the impression of extreme thriftiness on the part of the sender and is frankly, just too casual. Email, phone numbers and websites on the formal invitation look cluttered. You only get married once, we hope, so let’s at least have some decorum and put these details on another card.

The reply card will have the following:

Reply by date:

Traditionally, invitations go out two months prior to your wedding. Your reply by date should be three-four weeks before your wedding.

Formal: The favor of a reply is requested by the tenth of June

Informal: Kindly reply by June 10th


What is this M in front of the name line? I get this question all the time and it saddens me that this tradition is going by the wayside. Lately, I have replaced M with guest(s) as couples do not care to embrace this tradition today. M in front of the line is for Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss. Historically, this is traditional proper protocol.

Reply envelopes:

You must include them with your response card and either handwrite or have your Stationer print your return address on the front. Self-mailable postcards are informal but still do the trick if you forgo a proper response envelope.


You must place a stamp on the self-mailable reply card or on the reply card envelope. It is bad form to ask your guests to pay for the response to your wedding.

Meal Choices:

Many couples like to include meal choices on their reply card so that their caterer can better prepare for the wedding day. This is entirely up to you. A major reason couples send out their invitations late is that they wait and wait for the caterer to sort out the meal choices. Caterers do not care about invitation deadlines and the stress this causes the Stationer (me) and the couples (you) is tantamount. If you must put meal choices on your response cards, then go with the bare minimum: meat, fish, vegetarian.

Mailable response card vs an online reply, which is best for you? It depends. If you are having a very formal black tie wedding, something in a grand home, country club or ballroom, you would want a proper mail-in reply card. Below are the pro’s and cons of each side of the argument:

Online Reply Card Pros

• You will receive responses sooner

• Since you do not need an envelope, you will save environmentally and in your wallet

• Easier for some guests

Online Reply Card Cons

• Out of site, out of mind; spend more time tracking down responses from guests who simply forgot

• Too casual for formal weddings

• Older guests may have a hard time navigating the web

• How do you indicate how many are invited with just a link? You will have to have numerous conversations or a way to indicate online what the guest limit is. You may not want everyone to bring a "plus one".

• You must have a shortened url. It is difficult for older guests or guests on mobile devices to type something like this in order to reply:

QR Codes

• Insanely ugly and detract from the invitation design

• Are difficult for many guests, particularly the elderly

• If I did not stress this enough above, they are really unattractive

Mail-in Reply Cards Pros

• A physical card that requires action is more reliable for getting responses

• It’s classier

• Every day you receive a response in the mail is like getting a letter from a friend. When do you ever receive letters these days? Many guests take the time to write a little handwritten note on your reply cards. You can even add a few lines on your card for this. I kept all of mine and tied them with a pretty ribbon.

Mail-in Reply Cards Cons

The added cost of the stamp and envelopes

Not as environmentally friendly

With the advent of technology, we seem to lose little pieces of traditions every day. It would be a shame for weddings to go fully digital. When you look back on your 50th wedding anniversary, what will you have besides your love and photos? Paper will be there. Texts, wedding websites and email confirmations will all be long gone after your wedding day. Let’s ditch the traditions that are not so important to us. Tossing the garter can go, bridesmaids don’t always have to wear the same dress and we really do not have to throw rice. As a self-proclaimed paper and etiquette collector, I admit the online reply is becoming more and more popular. Let’s just make sure we keep it OFF of the invitation and ON a separate card, no matter what you decide to do.

A traditional reply card


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