What Does The M Mean On RSVP (RSVP Etiquette)?

Whether you’re planning a wedding or any other invitation-only event, the RSVP system is a great way to make sure your guest list is well organized and is also a huge help in actually planning your event.

Knowing how many people intend to come to your event, and who they are, is really important to ensure that everyone can be arranged properly and that everyone has a seat at the table.

However, there’s a lot of proper etiquettes to observe when you send or reply to an RSVP invite, and to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself or offend anyone, it’s best to make sure you know exactly what to say to make sure everyone knows where they stand.

One of the most confusing things people often don’t understand when they receive an RSVP reply card is the ‘M’ on the card which is usually followed by a blank space. A lot of people don’t understand what this means, especially younger people who are not so familiar with the RSVP system.

Although it seems confusing, the idea behind this cryptic arrangement is actually really simple and easy to explain.

Essentially, when weddings were much more formal ceremonies the invitations would be sent out with an M which would signify the first letter of the title to whom the letter was sent.

So for example, the M could be used for Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss, and this would make it so that you could use the blank space after the M to fill in the rest of your appropriate title followed by your name to make sure that the wedding organizers knew who was planning to attend and had an accurate list of names and titles to avoid confusion when booking and making plans and also avoid embarrassing instances of using incorrect spellings or wrong titles for guests.

If you’re inviting someone who is a Dr or who has a different title, it can make things a little more complicated but it’s not too difficult to make a few alternative options to cater to these people and adds a nice personal touch to your invitations that makes your guests feel valued and appreciated, and may also lead to a better wedding present, who knows!

While this was the proper etiquette back when weddings were very serious and formal affairs, the modern wedding is much different and far more casual. In general, people today are less likely to want to be referred to by their title and prefer weddings that are more personal, both for the guests and the newlyweds themselves.

This has led to a lot of rethinking about old traditions, and much of the old etiquette now seems out of place or far too serious and somber for the modern-day celebration of love and romance.

Modern RSVPs tend to use indicators such as ‘Name(s):’ or variations of this sort to allow guests to fill in their preferred title, name, and even pronouns depending on the wedding and the particular guest, and this is a much more inclusive and progressive way to make your guests feel welcomed into the process.

Some may simply leave a blank space on their letter, but this can be even more confusing and many people won’t understand what this means or if they need to send back the letter to confirm their attendance.

Working out ways to work these letters and keep track of your guests can be difficult, and using old-fashioned letters and cards is actually something a lot of people are moving away from altogether.

It’s possible today to use email and social media to organize weddings and guest lists, and there are plenty of ways to use the digital tools of the day to your advantage and make things easier for both you and your guests. 

It’s worth noting however that digital event organizing can feel far less personal than sending physical invitations, and for special occasions physical invitations can feel much more exclusive and exciting, providing you can handle the expense and the organization they require.

Digital RSVPs also have a danger of getting lost in the digital ether, as people are so spammed by notifications and emails it can be tough to separate what’s important from what’s not.

It’s possible that combining physical and digital tools may be the way to go, to keep track of your guests easily and make them feel welcome and special with proper invitations.

Ultimately, you need to choose what’s best for you, as it’s your event and you who bear the brunt of the organizational stress and cost.

Additional Tips

Make sure to set the RSVP date well in advance of the actual event so that there is time to reorganize things if people can’t attend. A common choice is to set the date 3 weeks before the event date to ensure there’s time to sort out any issues that arise.

Send out the invitations in plenty of time to give your guests plenty of time to respond and organize their own plans to attend. It’s common courtesy to give people ample time to prepare for your event.

Number or mark your RSVPs just in case one gets sent back to you and it’s blank. Doing this will allow you to see who you send the invitation to and avoid confusion and stress in the planning process.