The general idea behind online invitations has remained unchanged since the beginning – give folks the information they need to make their decision, and (hopefully) a way to submit an RSVP if they’re planning on coming!
But not all online RSVPs are created equal. Some are free, some are paid, and some are better-suited to certain event types over others. Here are a few questions to consider before settling on which online invitation maker to use:
- What type of event are you planning?
- Is this a small, invite-only event? Or a big, open-invitation bash?
- How important is it that you receive an accurate headcount ahead of time?
- Are you charging guests to attend (i.e. selling tickets)?
- What details do your guests need? But also, what else might they want?
Here’s a list of all of the online RSVP sites that are mentioned in this report. Click any of these to scroll to the Online Invitation Comparison section at the bottom of this page, which include screenshots, pricing info, and their notable features.
Choosing an Online Invitation Based on Event Type
“Just Show Up” Events
The majority of events that you’d send out an invitation for are what we classify as “just show up” events, which don’t require a whole lot of input from your guests. Maybe they need to bring a food dish or a present, but in general, they just need to show up and have fun. Examples might include:
- Birthday Parties
- Baby Showers
- Brunches/Dinner Parties
- Graduation Parties
- Holiday Parties (New Years, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc. etc.)
- Sports/Superbowl Parties
Punchbowl, Evite, and Greenvelope are the top choices here (and all quite similar in style and functionality) if you’re looking for free online invitations. You can choose from hundreds of pretty, “fun” designs, load in your guest list, and you’re all set.
Paperless Post offers a sleeker experience and a more “modern” event landing page that can include a map, improved RSVP capabilities, and more. However, beauty comes at a price – sometimes costing almost $0.80 per invitation. But if you only need a quick RSVP, take a look at their Flyer product, which are eye-catching and fun.
Lastly, if you prefer to do everything through your phone, check out Hobnob, where you can send invites and collect RSVPs through texts. Hobnob has animated, well-designed (and mobile-optimized) invitation backgrounds to choose from, and is great for social get-togethers.
Events that require.. a little more
Certain events require a little more group communication– especially if they span over multiple days or include lots of moving parts, such as:
- Bachelor Parties
- Bachelorette Parties
- Camping Trips
- Group Trips
- Retreats (corporate, wellness, yoga, etc)
- Seminars & Summits
- Smaller Conferences/Festivals
- Weddings & more
You’ll notice right away that these events are more complex for both the organizer AND the guests. And if you use a “just show up” online event invitation, you’ll be stuck communicating back and forth with your guest list in other ways – like a lengthy mass email or a separate event website. How do you send out the itinerary? What about packing lists? Information about flights/hotels/travel? What if people have questions?
Take a look at Guestboard (hey, that’s us!) for managing large group invitations and keeping all communication centralized. You can turn on any number of handy tools (widgets) such as a message board for organized conversation threads, a collaborative checklist, a full schedule/itinerary, and a place to post shared resources or important links. Guestboard also features a library of photo-based RSVP invitations, which come across as a little more modern/professional than the invitation templates found on Evite or Punchbowl. You can, of course, also upload your own photo (or a gif!).
Events that require a ticket purchase to attend:
An event platform for selling tickets is a whole world in itself, and there are literally dozens of options to both host an event page and collect payment prior to entry. The list of examples could go on forever, but a few obvious examples might be:
- Benefits Dinners/Fundraisers
- Conferences & Trade Shows
- Food Festivals
Chances are, if you’re planning an event that requires an admission fee, you will most likely have multiple marketing channels to promote the link to your event page. But if you have a pre-existing guest list to invite, Eventbrite is the leading name in the event ticketing space. You can send your invitations online, create a clear and public event page in minutes, and include a long-format description of what an attendee needs to know.
There isn’t a great way to interact on Eventbrite, though, so it’s best suited for promoting your event, driving ticket sales, and tracking key metrics.
An interesting alternative to Eventbrite is RSVPify, which features easy-to-create free RSVP invites, +1 capabilities, and also ticket sales, if you need it. If you’re an event planner or a meticulous wedding guru, you might enjoy their seating chart tool!
What guests need, and what they want
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities you have as the event organizer (EVERY sized event requires more effort than people think). But by thinking from the guests’ perspective early on, you can save yourself a huge headache later.
Think of what goes through your mind as a guest invited to a new event. If travel is involved, where will they stay? What should they bring/prepare? What time will everything wrap up? And lastly, if you were a guest, would you realistically take the time to read an 8 paragraph event description? Probably not. So keep things event invitations informative, but brief.
Additional details you may want to add to your invitation:
- Answers to potentially common questions – parking situation, dress code, etc.
- Visible Guest List – so guests can coordinate with others they may know
- Links to helpful resources – venue info, schedule, maps, etc.
Online Invitation Overview (w/ Pricing)
It’s important to note that each one of these event invitation sites are packed with features – from guest list management to advanced email capabilities. We’re noting some defining features, but not all that they offer!
|Price||Best Suited For:|
|Evite||Free (with ads),
14.99 – $79.99 per event for Premium
|Free online invitations.
BBQs, family gatherings, young birthdays.
|Eventbrite||Starting at 2% ticket fee + $0.79/ea, but this fee can be passed on to purchaser||Selling tickets to an event, or spreading awareness to a free event|
|Facebook Events||Free with a Facebook account||Promoting a public, local event
live music shows, demonstrations, etc.
|Guestboard||Free up to 30 accepted guests,
as low as 0.30/guest for events over 30 attending.
|Events that need a no-frills invitation + more. Group communication & organized planning
Retreats, Conferences, Group trips, Weddings, Multi-day events, etc.
|Greenvelope||$39 for up to 40 guests,
$124 for 150 guests
|Sending digital invitations that match your color scheme & supporting independent graphic designers|
|Hobnob||Starting at $3.99/mo,
up to $47.99/mo
|Sending invites straight from your phone via text or link
Parties w/ friends, happy hours, BBQs
|Paperless Post||$10 for 25 coins,
$50 for 400 coins.
|Stylish invitations and save-the-dates that look like the real thing|
|Punchbowl||Some free up to 50 guests,
$5.99/mo for up to 100 guests,
$7.99/mo for up to 500.
|Kids parties, birthday parties, baby showers.|
|RSVPify||Free up to 100 Guests (basic plan),
$29+ for more guests/increased features,
$189+ for professional events
|Collecting RSVPs, +1’s, Seating charts, Guest Management|