No, it’s not for “Maybe.”

Congratulations! You’ve been invited to a wedding. Here’s how to respond to the invitation with grace.

Traditionally, wedding invitations are accompanied by a response card (the most formal weddings may forego the response card, and you are expected to pen your reply on your own stationery—but that’s an etiquette lesson for another day). The response card is exactly what its name suggests; it’s how you notify the couple whether or not you will be attending their wedding, so it’s important to complete it correctly and return it swiftly.

Before you complete the response card, first determine who has actually been invited to the wedding. To do this, check the inner envelope, as it will list the names of all invited guests. For instance, the outer envelope may only have listed your name, “Miss Elly May Clampett,” but the inner envelope may say, “Elly May and Guest.” That’s how you know you’re responding for two guests, rather than one. Same goes for families: The outer envelope might only say “Mr. and Mrs. Ladd Drummond,” but if the kids have been included too, the inner envelope will tip you off, as it will say, “Ladd and Ree, Alex, Paige, Bryce and Todd.” If there is no inner envelope, let the outer envelope be your guide, and don’t make any assumptions.

Once you’ve determined who’s been included, it’s time to fill ‘er out.

Many response cards will include an “M” followed immediately by a line. In keeping with more formal wedding tradition, the line is here as a way to kickstart your reply. The “M” stands for the first letter of the title you prefer to go by, be it Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss. (Quick tip: Ms. may be used for married or unmarried women, while Miss is reserved for unmarried women.) Of course, you may have guests that are “The Honorable” or “Dr.,” but the response card levels the playing field on the salutation-front and they’ll just have to use the old “M” like everybody else. (That said, if you are the bride or groom, take care to get those titles right on the outer envelope.)

From there, everything is pretty self-explanatory. Mark the number of guests by either “joyfully accepts” or “regretfully declines.” Do not include a check mark or “X” to signify your acceptance or rejection of the invitation; instead, list the number of guests who will or will not be attending. The same goes for menu selection, if listed.

And once you fill out the response card, drop it in the mail immediately! The most impolite thing you can do is not reply to the invitation at all.

While guests are the ones who need to mind their p's and q's when it comes to response cards, it's the bride and groom who need to take notes on the proper way to address those wedding invitations. Here are our tips for doing it correctly. 

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