Once your wedding invitations are sent off into the world, you'll need a way to track the RSVPs that come back to you. If you're not prepared, this step is enough to make even the most calm bride go postal (pun intended).
There are two major options for couples nowadays, and which one you choose depends entirely on your personality.
Photo by Charmaine Mallari
I don't think there's any better way to track your RSVPs than on a wedding website. Some people prefer using them anyway, since it means they don't have to find a mailbox. Many wedding websites will send you email updates as your guests reply. They are customizable to a certain extent, so you can match the theme of your wedding. And you can include a lot more information that wouldn't fit on your RSVP card (or that isn't considered polite to include on your RSVP card, like where you're registered).
Are there any downsides to using a wedding website? There will likely be a few people (like grandma) on your guest list who don't use the internet. There's always technological error to account for, like site downtime or glitches. And (call me old fashioned) there's just something in the magic of the wedding process that lends itself to real paper, crisp envelopes, wax seals, and postage stamps. But, as old fashioned as I am, I would still use a wedding website alongside a paper RSVP in a heartbeat, simply for the convenience.
You can find great wedding websites at The Knot and Wedding Wire.
If a wedding website isn't for you, or you really like being able to watch and control the RSVPs returning to you, you might be better off with a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet. Make sure you have columns for First/Last Name, Yes/No, Food Preferences, Table Number, and whatever other variables you have. When all the RSVPs have come in, simply filter off the Nos and hand the list over to your venue/wedding planner/calligrapher/etc.
An important tip: Make sure you fill out the First/Last Name column BEFORE you send out your invitations. If not, you'll be left wondering, "Did I invite that person or not?"
Black Light Pen
I've seen this option floating around the internet, and I'm torn as to whether it's a good idea. Here's the concept: You write a number on the RSVP card in black light pen, and then when the card returns to you, you shine a black light on it to reveal the number. It's meant to be a way of tracking how many RSVPs have come back to you.
Aside from being a really cool tool, and potentially a very crafty way to get your fiance involved (men and their tools, right?) I personally think that if you're organized beforehand and have your guest list down pat, you won't need a black light pen to manage your guest list. I wanted to mention it just in case you thought it was the bees knees or something.
Ok, you're all set with RSVP tracking ideas - now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! Read more about RSVP card wording, or get to know my process for creating wedding invitations.