I knew printing your own invitations could be a tad frustrating, but I didn’t expect to be swearing at my printer for 4 hours. I also never expected it to re-frustrate me two weeks before my wedding. Allow me to explain:
DIY invitations, whether made from scratch or from a store-bought kit, can save you a lot of money. It also allows your creative side to come out. When you’re making your own invitation, you’re free make it say anything you want. Any wording, any layout, anything. Actually, you might be too free. I was. I ran into trouble when I realized that I hadn’t actually read many invitations and RSVP cards and didn’t really know what they were supposed to say. Naturally, I googled wedding templates and I came out with a perfect invitation.
I was equally pleased with the RSVP cards. I based it off of a template I found online and on the one I’d gotten for my coworker’s wedding. I figured that if multiple websites had it as a template and my coworker used it, it must be suitable. I’d found it clear when I filled it out for my coworker’s wedding. Here it is:
It was problematic on a few levels. Firstly, in how people filled it out. If it were filled out properly, it would read “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, 2 will attend, 0 vegetarian.” Not everyone knows the blank spots are for numbers. Some people just put a check mark next to “will attend.” That seems like an appropriate response when you look at the RSVP card, but it’s quite problematic when the Doe family is responding and you need a concrete guest count (are they bringing all of their kids? Are their kids assuming they can bring dates? Yes, it happened to us.)
There were some cases where we didn’t know the names of distant relatives’ children or spouses (shameful, I know,) and this format didn’t allow us to get the names. I don’t know about all banquet halls, but our venue required a list of the names of all guests.
On a similar note, when couples/groups responded and listed one vegetarian, we had no idea who in the pair/group couldn’t eat a meat dish. Luckily we had a buffet so it wasn’t an issue, but if you had to tell your venue exactly who needed the vegetarian dish, it might be difficult. Hopefully they only need to know the number of vegetarians at each table; it might be worth asking your venue about.
The problems listed above are only problems when people respond. The biggest problem I found with this format was that guests didn’t respond at all. I expected everyone to respond, not just because I’d spent so much on stamps, but also because I thought it was common courtesy. Some people who couldn’t come responded with a card that said “0 attending” or wrote a little note on the card expressing their regrets, but many more figured that we were only expecting cards from those who were attending. In an ideal world, only attendees responding could work, but not all attendees sent their cards back. There were people who assumed we knew they were coming without them responding, or those uncles who never respond to anything but just show up, or those relatives who were waiting until the last minute to see if they could get the weekend off/how their great-aunt’s health would be/if they felt like going, etc. No really, that all happened to us. On our deadline, we had received about half of the cards back. We had to follow up with all of the rest! Our deadline was a week before the venue’s deadline for our final guest list, but I never imagined that entire week would be spent tracking people down.
Remember my post on over-explaining your tosser? Same idea. Make the response card so simple that no one can make a mistake, not even that young single person who has never attended a wedding. I’d only recommend the last template on this list of templates. Remember that you should have a place to check yes or no (so the non-attendees know they have to respond too) and a place to list the number of guests. If you’re giving food options (choice of entree, vegetarian options,) you can present the choices with a blank spot and hopefully your guests will fill it out clearly.
In the end, there’s always going to be people who don’t respond, fill it out wrong, or say they need more time. There’s nothing you can do, it can’t be perfect. Just make sure that you put the deadline on the card at least a week before your venue’s deadline and try to make the card as clear as possible. And if all else fails, whoever wanted the non-responders on the guest list should be stuck with tracking them down (my parents and in-laws had a busy week of tracking people down, our friends responded.) Remember to delegate, especially since they should know the best way to get a hold of these people, especially if you don’t know them at all.