When planning the special day, it's critical for the bride and groom to know how many people will be at the event. Don't leave the happy couple hanging.
Step 1: Adhere to the RSVP date Look at the invitation -- it should note an RSVP deadline. It's there for a reason, as the bride and groom must give the caterer an accurate headcount and plot the seating arrangements. Respond by the date indicated, or the bride will have to track you down.
Step 2: Abide by the guest list Fill out the enclosed response card and abide by the names listed on the envelope. Adding the name of an uninvited date or child is rude and puts the couple in the awkward position of having to explain their guest list policy.
TIP: It's become increasingly common for couples to send out a "save the date" card months before the wedding, prior to mailing out the actual invitations. No response is required.
Step 3: Decline graciously Send regrets graciously. Check the appropriate box on the response card to let the couple know you'll be unable to attend. Tradition dictates that you should still send a gift, even if you're not going; but a handwritten note of congratulations may suffice.
Step 4: Respond appropriately Read the response card. If it requests an RSVP, you'll need to respond whether you're going to attend or not. If it states "Regrets Only," it means only those who won't be attending need to reply.
Step 5: Address questions correctly Direct any wedding-related questions to members of the wedding party. Don't bombard the already stressed-out bride or groom with nit-picky issues and concerns, like what to wear to the ceremony.
Step 6: Stick to your response Heed your own reply. If you indicated you would attend the wedding, don't bail on the happy couple and not show up. On the flip side, don't crash a wedding you said you wouldn't attend. Be a conscientious guest or you may have to deal with an unhappy bride and groom and a damaged friendship.
FACT: RSVP is French for repondez s'il vous plait, which translates into "please respond."