Ask Lily Beth ☞ More Sticky RSVP Situations

You know, the over-whelming majority of search results for WhatWouldJackieDo (somewhere around 75%) are from people looking for the polite way to handle particularly sticky RSVP situations. So remember – you are definitely not alone out there.

Also remember: any time you write in, I’m giving you an alias, just in case.

Geneva writes:

My husband and I were invited to #2 daughter’s friend’s wedding.  Also on the invite envelope were both our daughter’s names.  #1 daughter lives in another state.  I gave the bride our daughter’s business card with her apartment address written on it hoping she would get the hint, but my daughter still has not received her own invite.  #2 daughter cannot attend and is telling her friend in person.

How do I fill out the reply card?

Sympathy for the Bride

I totally get it – you already spent two decades being the go-between for your daughters, negotiating everything from their pre-school enrollment on up through their first checking accounts, cars, or apartments. And now your daughters are adults, and you’re kind of done being the family-managing matriarch. That’s understandable, even commendable.

But the number one thing to remember when dealing with sticky situations is to have sympathy for the Bride. She’s dealing with a lot right now (catering, flowers, table arrangements, numerous dress fittings, music, processional orders, officiants, getting the actual marriage license, and probably her own sticky situations involving her family and the wedding party).

Jack and I had a guest list of 200 people, and it was a major undertaking just to handle the invites (tracking down correct addresses, extracting the correct spellings out of a husband who never remembers these things, keeping track of who recently got divorced, whether Rick is short for Frederick or Richard, tallying the eight children of the McClure family, etc.)

It’s tough. Do your best not to take mistakes as personal slights.

Also remember that often times, the Bride herself isn’t responsible for the invitations – if the parents of the Bride are hosting the wedding, the Mother-of-the-Bride may be sending out the invitations, and she may not know your family as well as the Bride does, but she’s doing her best to get everything right.

Assessing the Situation Fairly

Obviously whomever was responsible for the invitations didn’t completely overlook either of your daughters – just their addresses. Often times, they’ll include your children as part of your invitation, especially if your daughters (although grown women) are unmarried, or are in a situation (like being a college student) where they move often.

I’m assuming at least Daughter #1 is unmarried, because the invitation was sent to your home and addressed only to her (not her and a spouse). If she is married and living outside your home, there’s no good excuse for not sending her a separate wedding invitation (which includes her husband). But for the sake of this argument, I’m going to give the Bride the benefit of the doubt and assume Daughter #1 is single. I’m also assuming you’ll be going together as a family, which (in the Bride’s mind) will preclude Daughter #1’s need to bring a date, hence why it was just addressed to the four of you.

And Now, the Reply

You’ve done the exact right thing in trying to make addressing as easy for the Bride as possible – i.e. providing her with your daughter’s business card. But there’s no guarantee that her business card made it to the actual person addressing the invitations – an impolite but forgivable oversight given everything the Bride must be dealing with.

In this specific situation, I’d take a deep breath, and then reply for all four of you – your husband and two daughters. Even though Daughter #2 is declining to her friend in person, you still want to make it easy for her (or her mother) to keep track.

It’s great that she is telling the Bride in person (this gives her a more intimate opportunity to congratulate her and make an earnest apology), but wedding preparation is a crazy time and often times the Bride depends on those RSVP cards like oxygen in order to keep her guests straight and iron out seating arrangements.

Also, be sure to fill out the reply card the way you prefer to be addressed – if it’s Mr. and Mrs. Steve Smith, fill it out as such. But if you really prefer Steve and Geneva Smith, then write it that way.


I hope this adequately answers your question – I know you will respond with the utmost patience and grace, but sometimes you also want someone else to just confirm your actions. And that’s why WhatWouldJackieDo exists.


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