Welcome, pals, to another Problem Pal segment, where you can get actionable (and anonymous) advice on all your wedding worries.
Like Carole King Says, It’s Too Late has written in with an all-too-common problem:
Some friends of ours didn’t RSVP before the deadline on our invitations. We assumed they couldn’t attend but, after we gave the final details to our caterer and our venue, they mentioned how excited they were for our wedding. I’m not sure how to tell them it’s too late now and they’ve missed the deadline – or if I even should!
People just do not RSVP in time. It’s an indisputable fact of life. Instead, they:
- pop your invitation on their fridge
- spot it every time they make a cup of tea
- think, oh, I really need to do that
- give you ulcers
- only remember about two weeks after you’ve passed your final head count to your caterer.
If your RSVP deadline hasn’t passed yet, there are a couple of things you can do to get your answers in on time, which we’ll get onto in a minute, but first, let’s talk about the worst case scenario.
How to handle late RSVPs when you’ve already finalised the seating chart
If you’ve already finalised everything with your wedding suppliers – if the venue has the final head count, the caterer has the exact numbers for the meat and vegetarian options, and your stationer has made your table plan – when someone tries to RSVP late to your wedding, you need to be very honest with yourself about who this person is to you and your partner and how much it means to have them at your wedding.
Keen to have them join you? Pay extra to have them at your wedding
No matter how late it is, you can still add guests to your day – but it might cost you.
You’ll need to give everyone you’re working with as much notice as you can to make sure they can accommodate a few extra heads, and they all might have additional charges. Consider…
- The venue
If your venue is organising the tables for you (and you’re still within the headcount they gave you, for how many people they could sit at dinner), they should be able to add some extra seats without much fuss.
- Furniture hire
If you’re hiring furniture, you may have to pay an amendment fee on top of the additional money you’ll pay for extra seats and tables.
- The caterer
Caterers will usually plan to make a few extra plates anyway in case anything goes wrong so, as long as you give them a few weeks’ notice, they’ll likely only charge you for the extra plates. (Though it’s worth checking your contract on that, of course!)
- The stationer
If you’ve ordered place cards, menus, or a table plan, how much you can change is going to depend on if your stationer has actually finished and printed everything.
Stationers often have minimum print runs, so it might not be possible to add an extra place card if they’ve already been sent out (at least, not without paying for 25!), but adding one into the mix before they get printed will likely be fine.
There might be a charge depending on the work and the notice you can give. At Gettin’ Hitched Rocks, we give our couples two free rounds of amends to everything we design, so adding a few extra guests would be free of charge.
Happy to have them – but not happy to pay? Ask them to contribute
If you want your friend there but can’t afford the extra charges, be honest with them. If they’re a close enough friend to come to your wedding, they’re a close enough friend to have a frank conversation with.
They missed the RSVP deadline. It’s their fault, not yours, and it’s not unreasonable to ask them to contribute to the costs you’re being hit with because they couldn’t answer in time – as long as you do it politely!
Chat to your mate about the deadline, the wedding businesses that are working to the numbers you gave them, and the extra costs you’d have to pay to be able to add them to the day so last minute, and give them an option: would they like to contribute the money for their food and seat, or would they prefer to come to your evening reception?
It matters a lot less about having exact numbers for your reception – you won’t be giving them a sit-down meal, you won’t need to organise favours or place settings for them, and even if you’re providing drinks instead of having a cash bar, a few extra heads won’t drastically affect your numbers.
Not that fussed? Invite them to your evening reception
Since you don’t need to work to such exact numbers for your reception, you can add a few extra heads without re-organising your catering and paying extra.
Tell your friend you’re sorry they didn’t get back to you in time to be part of the day, as you’ve organised everything now, but you’re looking forward to seeing them at the reception.
If you’re not having an evening reception, you could invite them to watch the ceremony if there’s space, or even organise a night out after your wedding so you can have a private celebration with them – and soften the ‘too late, loser’ message!
Avoiding the whole awkward situation all together
The best answer – if your RSVP deadline hasn’t passed yet – is not letting your guests not RSVP!
A wedding website is the best way to organise your guests; ours send automatic reminders to the guests who haven’t RSVP’d yet, so you can relax and get on with other – muuuch more fun! – things, knowing your website is on the case!
And, when your deadline has passed, our websites won’t let anyone RSVP. No sneaking a reply in the postbox three weeks late – they get told you’re sorry they’re not coming, so you can avoid that awkward conversation.
If you don’t have one of our (really rather amazing) wedding websites, the best thing to do is chase people up before your deadline. Set time aside a few weeks before and text or call the people you need to hear from, reminding them of your deadline.
If you feel awkward, it can be useful to tell a little white lie – say some of your invites have been lost in the mail and you want to make sure they got theirs. That way, you don’t feel like you’re treating your mates like children, but they still get the reminder to RSVP.
What do you reckon? Are there other ways to handle those awkward guests who don’t RSVP on time? Do you have any tips or tricks for other couples facing the daunting task of Herding The Guestlist? (They’re worse than cats, honestly.)
Or do you have any wedding worries of your own that you’d like a little advice on?
Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help keep you whelmed.
Until next time, pals!
Your pal for all problems (wedding related – maybe not world peace level),
Photo by RawPixel.