Monday, January 25, 2021

The Reply Card Debate

At Fresh Ink, we get lots of questions about reply cards. Are they necessary? Why does it seem so few people reply these days?

The beginning is always the best place to begin, and we say that because everyone should be educated to know that it is proper to always reply to a formal invitation to accept or decline. Uber traditionally, reply cards were not included because every invited guest was expected to write a reply on personal stationery to accept or decline.  A formal reply to a wedding invitation would typically read:

Mr. and Mrs Jeffrey Wayne Upchurch

accept with pleasure

President and Mrs. Obama’s

kind invitation for

Saturday, the seventh of May

Beautiful, yes?

Many continue this tradition and send hand-written replies even when reply cards are not included with an invitation.

However as time progressed, there was concern that many people did not know of this requirement and the reply card was developed as a way to ensure the invitee made their reply properly by providing them with practically a fill-in-the-blank version of a properly worded reply. Self-addressed and stamped envelope was included.

Now that we have laid the grounds for the tradition of proper etiquette regarding replies, and it’s evolution to the modern reply card, the question still remains if you need one for YOUR wedding?

The answer, as you can imagine, is complex.

In a market like New York City, you would never consider invitations without a reply card because receptions are always seated dinners.

In our southern market, things are more flexible because we regularly have “cocktail buffet” style receptions where guests meander between various stations and do not have assigned seating at tables.

First you must come to grips with the reality that no reply system is 100% perfect and inevitably you will spend a little bit of time following up with people who do not reply if you desire a perfect guest count.

Which begs another question: do you need to have a perfectly accurate guest count for your wedding?

Our first consideration in the matter is your venue. A restaurant or club with an in-house kitchen may be able to react nimbly to a guest count above what you have estimated. A caterer bringing food to a site may not have this luxury. Always ask your caterer or your wedding planner their feedback on the matter based on their experience.

For larger weddings, where close 500 invitations might be sent, keeping up with individual replies might be a daunting matter. In this case, your planner might advise that they feel confident estimating the number of guests you can expect based on their experience.

If your wedding or reception will occur at home, a more precise count may be critical to ensure you have enough parking, tables, chairs, and other necessary preparations.

In past years, a frequent debate raged: Is including a reply card asking for a response via a website a faux pas? In our opinion, it is not. Reply cards that are mailed back present a physical reminder to the invitee that they need to reply, however the matter of delay from the post office returning the reply card can be an issue. Online replies have the advantage of being instantaneous, but might not be the preferable way for attendees of a certain generation to reply. A happy medium for some couples is to include a reply card that allows guests to reply via mail or online at their preference.

We find that given the expense of weddings, and the expense that can be associated with over or underestimating your guest count, a reply card is a worthwhile asset to help you plan accordingly and over 75% of our couples do choose to include them.

Armed with all of this information, you should be able to make the decision that is best for your event!


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