RSVP Etiquette – and what does the M mean on an RSVP card?

Is there anything better than checking your mailbox and finding a wedding invitation with your name on it? If you ask me, the answer is no! Even as a calligrapher and wedding invitation designer, I love the magic of seeing my own name on that envelope. It gives me all the warm fuzzies knowing that my presence is being requested on such a special day in that couple’s lives. Swoon! Being on the receiving end does come with some responsibility, too. Inside that gorgeous envelope, you will likely find an invitation, details card, and a response card. Today, I want to go over some “RSVP Etiquette” and share with you my tips on being a good recipient of an RSVP card as well as helpful tips if you’re the one sending them!

As the guest…

I’ll be honest with you, this is perhaps the most important job you have in this wedding. Luckily, it’s a pretty simple one!

If you know for sure that you will be able to attend as soon as you receive the invitation, my best advice is to fill it out right then and there and walk it to the mailbox.

If you need a little more time, set a reminder on your phone for one week before the RSVP date to ensure that it gets to the happy couple with plenty of time to spare. The RSVP date is the date the couple would like to receive the RSVP by, not the date you should put it in the mail by! Make sure you stick the RSVP card somewhere you won’t misplace it, like on the fridge.

Make sure that when you’re filling out your RSVP card, you fill it out in its entirety. An RSVP card will usually have a line that looks like this: “M_____.” Ever wonder what in the world that M means? It’s for your title – Mr., Mrs., Ms. etc! The line that follows is for you to complete with the names & titles of the guests attending. For example, “Mrs. Lauren Perry” is an appropriate response if I am attending alone.

Below I’ll cover some other common ways to RSVP:

For a Married Couple with the Same Last Name:

Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, or Mr. John and Mrs. Jane Doe

For a Married Couple with Different Last Names:

Mrs. Jane Smith and Mr. John Doe (or in reverse order)

For a Couple who is Unmarried:

Miss. Jane Smith and Mr. John Doe (or in reverse order)

After letting the couple know who you are, you’ll want to indicate if you will be attending or not. You should always send an RSVP back, even if you cannot make it. On many response cards, you’ll be asked how many are attending. Here you will put the number attending. Not sure who is invited? That brings me to my next point.

Another helpful piece of advice is how to know who is invited. If your wedding invitation is addressed to your name, you alone are invited. If your wedding invitation is addressed to your name with a guest, then you were given a plus one. If your invitation is addressed to “The Perry Family,” then you can assume your entire family, including children, is invited. If the wedding invitation is addressed to you and your spouse, but not your children, then it is a kid-free party…enjoy your night away!

The last thing on the response card will likely be a meal selection. Initial next to your meal of choice to let the couple know who is ordering what. They will then pass on this information to their caterer, so the clearer the handwriting, the better. Don’t just check the box, or your date might be served the meal you were wanting, and nobody likes food envy.


As the couple…

You’ll want to make sure that when you’re picking out or designing your RSVP card, it doesn’t leave any unanswered questions for the guest. It’s common etiquette to include an envelope that is already addressed to the return address and stamped. Putting a stamp on the return envelope will make it even easier for your guests to stick it in the mail quickly…which is ideally what you will want to happen!

Other Helpful Hints for Couples

  • Make the RSVP date three weeks before your wedding so that you have time to put out any fires that arise in regards to the guest count. Be sure to check with your vendors on when they need headcounts to give yourself as much time as you need.
  • Send out your invitations with enough time to give guests around three weeks to send back their RSVPs. Sometimes this just isn’t possible, though. I get it! With a firm RSVP date, fingers crossed that your guests hold themselves accountable.
  • While we always hope this doesn’t happen, sometimes people can send an RSVP card back blank…oops! To avoid stressful pre-wedding confusion, number each RSVP in a hidden place, such as in invisible ink on one of the back corners. Keep a list of which guests match with which numbers.
  • If your wedding food of choice is a buffet, you can still think of fun questions to ask guests on their RSVP. Some ideas are asking for song requests, their drink of choice, or even a favorite memory with the couple. Let’s chat about what we can add to make the RSVP card uniquely “yours!”
  • When it comes to the stamp on your response envelope, make sure that you’re following proper USPS guidelines for weight. I’ve covered that in a previous blog here to help!


There you have it, my all-inclusive guide to RSVP Etiquette. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or ideas about designing a wedding invitation suite to meet all your needs and wants. Together, we’ll design a response card to go along that will make your guests WANT to keep it forever…although we all know, that wouldn’t be good etiquette!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.