I had an interesting conversation with a customer today about RSVP dates and how early is ‘too early’ to set an RSVP date…and for that matter, is an RSVP date even necessary? To set the record straight, I always suggest putting an RSVP date on your invitation. If you simply ask your guests to RSVP, it seems that most times you are less likely to receive a reply from everyone. If you have an RSVP date written on your invitation it gives your guests the impression and sense of urgency in receiving their reply.
For a casual event, we typically say to set your RSVP date for 1-2 weeks before the party date. This can be lengthened for a more formal event, (weddings are more like 2-3 weeks prior to the wedding date), or if your caterer/reception site needs a head count to prepare a venue or food for the event. In the case of the customer I was chatting with, she actually had an RSVP date that needed to be five WEEKS before her event. She and her other hosts were preparing a costly event and needed a firm count of guests before purchasing favors and planning their location decorations, etc. In this customer’s case her RSVP date was in definite need of being included on or with her invitation.
Suggestion: If you have an RSVP date that is way before your event, be sure to mail your invitations early enough so that your guests have time to reply. Since the event needs such a firm confirmation of attendees, be sure to have the contact information for all guests in case plans change, (with the event being so far out), or in the case that a guest does not reply, (which WILL happen more times than you think).
End of the story? If you’re a guest and you see an RSVP date on your invitation, make it easy on your host(s) and reply as soon as possible on or before the requested date. It makes party planning SO much easier!!