We sent out over 1,200 reply cards in 2018, and are hoping to do more in 2019. The reply card is an often-overlooked piece of the invitation suite - we tend to stick with the typical wording and design and move on to more “exciting” parts. The truth is, however, that the reply card is the only conversational portion of the suite - the only piece that sends information to your guests and also receives information from your guest - so don’t discount the value of the RSVP card! It can save you loads of headache as well as help with your budget if you use it properly!
What is a Reply Card?
A reply card is a piece of the suite that allows guests to write in their names and let you know if they can attend your wedding or not. It stems from a time when a person would receive a handwritten note as an invitation, and respond with their own handwritten note back. We’ve modernized it since then, of course, and a lot of Reply Cards look very similar these days - write your name, check yes or no, return.
When do you send a Reply Card?
Reply cards are usually included with the invitations. They often include a stamped envelope in order for the guests to send them back to you free of charge. If you’re collecting RSVPs online, then you’ll still want to include a separate card with the website address on it so that people pay special attention to it.
Who gets a Reply Card?
Everyone who receives an invitation! If you send to international friends, then you do not stamp the envelope, as they’ll need to purchase a stamp in their own country to send it back to you.
What Information Is Needed for a Reply Card?
The only required information is a reply by date, and your options for attending or not. The reply by date is typically about 4-6 weeks before your wedding, which will allow you time to create a seating chart and provide final counts to all of your vendors. However, if you want to take your reply card to the next level, you can include plenty of other information on it!
Number of Seats reserved: This is a line that typically says something like “We have reserved __ seats for your party” and you fill in the blank. It keeps people from inviting unwanted plus ones or children, and makes it clear who’s invited.
Number in Party: This is a more open-ended line that will allow your guests to indicate how many people are coming with their party. That helps you get a more accurate count.
Meal Choices: Your caterer may offer meal choices, in which case you’d use the Reply Card to get an accurate count.
Many Reply Cards these days allow for a write-in of any dietary restrictions as well, so you can give the caterers a head’s up!
How to Design a Reply Card
Design-wise, we typically keep reply cards more simple, with one or two elements corresponding to the rest of the invitation. They are typically small (around 3.5x5”) but have a good bit of information on them, so you don’t want too many graphic elements taking up that space.
Handwritten: The extra formal reply card is simply a blank card, where the guest can hand-write a response in letter format. A lot of folks get confused if you do that these days, so while we love the personalization of it, we’d recommend a little instruction.
Colors: Since guests have to respond, try not to print your reply cards on dark paper (they may not be able to find a pen that shows up on it!)
Anonymous RSVPs: It never fails that a few people forget to fill in their names. To avoid this, we recommend numbering the back of your RSVPs to correspond to your Guest List, or printing your guests’ names on them directly.
Take Advantage of the Response: Like we said, this is the only actual exchange of information you have with your guests via stationery - use it. We love when guests are encouraged to share a recipe, song suggestion, or even marriage advice on the back of their reply card.
Wording: Keep your wording as formal as the rest of the invitation. Of course, we love unique wording such as “Meet us in the garden” or “You’re coming, right?”. Our Adventures Await suite was named after the wording on the reply card!
Budget Saving Tips for Reply Cards
There’s not a ton of ways to save on the reply card directly, but the reply card is strangely powerful in its ability to save you in other ways! Here are a few suggestions:
Postcards: Postcards are common these days, as they cut down on postage and envelope costs. Most postcards can get torn up in the mail, but since they’ll arrive to your guests in an envelope with the invitations, you’re the only one who will see them after they’ve gone through the ringer!
Online RSVPs: Online RSVPs are increasingly common, and have similar cost savings to the postcards. We don’t recommend including reply information on your invitation directly, as people may overlook it, but you can include it on another small card to draw attention to it.
Meal Choices: Get an accurate count on the meal choices with the right reply card wording - we like “Please initial a meal choice for each guest” so that you can tell who is getting which meal as opposed to just how many of each meal. That way, if you end up doing place cards or escort cards with meal choices indicated, you know whether Uncle Jim or Aunt Karen wanted the vegetarian meal. The more accurate your meal counts, the better off you’ll be!
Prepare for Other Events: You can use the RSVP card to capture counts for other wedding events as well - such as the rehearsal dinner or Sunday brunch. We often print multiple versions of a reply card, and include the correct one for each guest based on what they’re invited to. This way, you don’t have to send a second invitation or reply card just for those events.
Who knew Reply Cards could do so much? We can’t wait to chat with you next week about Inserts and Details Cards!!! In the meantime, take a look at our Collection Suites Details Cards here, or send us an inquiry for custom invitations!