To keep the cost of our paper suite down, I was decidedly against having RSVP cards returned by mail. We live in an age where a lot of people handle their business online or by phone, and from there everything is recorded electronically. Not only did I not want the extra costs, I didn’t want the extra hassle. For starters, our wedding website offers a customizable RSVP form. We’re able to ask very specific questions, make required fields, and generate a spreadsheet of all RSVPs received. Why consider anything else? The website couldn’t be more perfect. BUT—and there always seems to be a “but” when it comes to wedding planning—by nixing mail returned RSVPs I was left with one conundrum: How do we ensure that everyone is able to RSVP?—even our not-so tech savvy guests?
The phone, of course! The only option in my mind was an awesome RSVP service that featured a live agent who would record all of the information. Unfortunately, the company stopped offering it just in time for my wedding, and paying money to have our guests call an answering machine was out of the question—especially with rates starting at $130. Thanks, but no thanks! Nonetheless, what I thought to be a huge setback turned out to be a huge cost-saving hurdle in the form of Google Voice.
In various searches for “RSVP (this and that)” there was always at least one bride amongst the threads I’d been reading that mentioned Google Voice. Reluctantly, I pursued it because it seemed to be my only option. I wasn’t happy. However, once it was done and I realized how easy it was, I felt ashamed of the attitude I had going in. In a few short steps, we got a personalized RSVP hotline that people can’t even pay money for.
What makes Google Voice so great? Of course, the top reason on my list is the cost—absolutely nothing. Other features include one number to ring all of the phones of your choosing, an online voicemail with transcriptions sent to you by email or text, call blocking and custom greetings. Sherrod and I had a lot of fun with the custom greeting…I’ll share more on that later.
It should go without saying that in order to use Google Voice you must have a Google/Gmail account and an active phone line to receive calls on. The phone line can be a mobile or landline phone. On behalf of Google, I apologize to all of the international budget savvy brides who may be interested in Google Voice. Unfortunately, this service is limited to the US and you must have an existing US number to get a Google Voice number.
Understanding instructions for Google Voice can be a little confusing, particularly at the point after you’ve gotten the phone number and need to figure out how to set-up your greeting. With that said, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of how to set up your own Google Voice RSVP line:
Step 1 – Set up your phone number
- Go to www.google.com/voice. Read and accept Google Voice’s terms and privacy policies.
- When prompted to choose a new number or use your existing number, select “I want a new number.”
- Before selecting a Google Voice number, you must decide which of your existing phone numbers you’d like to have calls routed to. Enter that number and continue.
- Google will need to verify the number you entered is your own so have your phone handy. You will be prompted to click “call me now” and enter the 2-digit verification code on your screen. Go ahead and do that.
- Now, you’re ready to pick a number. The next screen will ask if there is an area, zip code, city and/or a word, phrase, or number that you’d like to use in the available numbers you’ll pick from. Go with what works best for you. Pick your number; write it down; and select “Finish.” Step 1 is complete.
Congratulations! You now have your very own Google Voice number. Easy-peasy!
Step 2 – Choose your settings
I mentioned that the next steps after setting up a Google Voice number can be a little confusing. At least it was for me. And if you find yourself feeling that way I’ll walk you through it quickly in the video tutorial that you can watch here. (For some reason we are having trouble embedding the video in the blog post– sorry about that!)
Step 3 – Record your personalized greeting
It’s show time! Before you press record, make sure to have your script ready. Script?—yes, script. How else will you be prepared to let your guests know what information to leave? It doesn’t have to be difficult. Sherrod and I prepped a short script and it went something like this:
Sherrod: Thanks for calling, you’ve reached the RSVP line for the future Mr. and Mrs. Sherrod Keaton.
Bianca: We hope to see you at our wedding on May 10th, 2014!
Sherrod: After the tone, please say the first and last names of the guests you are RSVPing for and their meal choice – the options are Seared Salmon or Grilled Chicken.
Bianca: And, if you can’t make it or are only able to attend a certain portion of our wedding festivities, we understand…just let us know after the tone. We’re very much looking forward to celebrating with you…hope to see you soon!
Cute, huh? Well, I thought so . Unfortunately, we weren’t able to record it together. After a few tries, we learned that it isn’t possible to do a three-way call voice recording. Presently, we live in different states and were not able to leave the cutesy back and forth message we’d intended so I wound up doing it solo. Upon direction from one of my bridesmaids, I ad-libbed our written text a little bit in order for the recording to not seem too rehearsed. She gives it the utmost stamp of approval, noting that my use of tone helps separate the questions so as to not overwhelm guests with information they may forget before they have a chance to leave a message. I’ll take it! If you have the chance to both do the voicemail recording, go for it! It will be fun and your guests will love it.
Once your script is ready, click “Record New Greeting” and follow the prompts. You will receive a call from Google Voice, upon which you will record your message. It may take a few tries to get it just right; just make sure you have fun with it. And guess what…? You’re done!
Here Are Some Things You Can Expect
Even if you’re learning as you go, with these instructions, the whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour to set everything up. From here on, there’s nothing more to do but get the number out there and watch the RSVPs come in. You’ll see the history of every call that comes in and whether a message was left or not. However, only the recorded voicemail messages will show up in your Google Voice inbox (unless you change this in your settings). I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that Google Voice transcriptions aren’t the least bit accurate so you will have to listen to the messages. Nonetheless, the transcriptions will be worth a few good laughs.
In terms of keeping track of your RSVPs, choose a system that works best for you. As for us, we’re using an Excel Spreadsheet in the same format as the one generated by our wedding website for consistency.
I’m not the expert on Google Voice or RSVP services, but I hope you’ve found this budget savvy bride’s experience with the RSVP hurdle helpful. Whether your concern is budgetary or environmental, using Google Voice as an RSVP service is a REALLY easy way to satisfy both. What do you think?