My best friend recently lamented to me about her challenge with RSVP’s for her son’s upcoming 5th Birthday party. She was going all out and the venue required a final headcount a week out. The problem, not all of her guests had RSVP’d by the date that she had provided on the invitation. I could sympathize, I’ve been there myself.
Her call led me to think about RSVP’s and what they mean to us today and how we think about them.
RSVP stands for Répondez, s’il vous plaît or “Please Respond.” Created in the late 18th centry by the French, and later adopted by high society England. Today, RSVPs seem to have be a little lost in their translation. One reason may be the modern twist of including “Regrets Only” to the end, which asks the recipient to respond only if he/she cannot attend.
On my part, I’ve always believed that if you are invited to attend something that you should always respond, regardless of your answer. I also include a RSVP at the bottom of all of my invitations (hand written, printed or emailed). I find it especially crucial when I’ve planned a large event where I need to purchase and/or cook food, book a venue, or reserve a reservation. Plus in planning the event, I am excited about getting everyone together. I want everyone I’ve invited to show up…or at the very least let me know if they cannot.
That said I tend to take it personally when I don’t hear from someone who I’ve invited. And despite the growing idea/excuse that people don’t understand the meaning of RSVP, I can often feel as though my guests don’t appreciate me enough to respond or worse yet, I imagine that they are waiting for a better offer for that night! Should I not take it personally and/or is this too cynic a view?
I did some research about RSVP etiquette. Emily Post’s etiquette on invitations notes that guests who receive an invitation with an “RSVP” are obligated to respond promptly. In her book, Etiquette “she” goes on to say that, “It is inexcusably rude to leave someone who has invited you to a party left with no idea on whether you will attend or not.” Well! Maybe my hurt feelings shouldn’t be completely disregarded.
Ms. Post notes that you should reply in the manner indicated on the invitation.
Here are some tips:
- RSVP with Response Card: Fill in and reply by the date indicated and return in the enclosed envelope. **Remember to clearly indicate the total number attending or just yourself, if the option to bring a guest has not been extended.
- RSVP with Phone Number: Telephone and make sure to speak in person – answering machines can be unreliable. (Some find this debatable what with our overtaxed lives.)
- RSVP with Email: You may accept or decline electronically.
- Regrets Only: Reply only if you cannot attend. If you do not respond, you are expected to attend!
- No Reply Requested: Unusual, but it is always polite to let someone know of your intentions. A phone call would be sufficient.
As I shared with my friend, in the worst case scenario, as the host(ess), you are with in your rights to call and follow-up with those guest who have not replied. Hopefully they will feel a little sheepish for having to be tracked down.
Remember your host(ess) cares about you. He or she thinks that much of you that they want to extend an invitation to join them, share in their happiness, celebrate etc . Don’t you appreciate the friendship enough to take two minutes to reply? If you don’t, Emily Post, Miss Manners, Helena Echlin of Table Manners on Chow.com and even Wikipedia, all agree, don’t be surprised if you are left off of future guest lists if you fail to respond.
Have you sent invitations where no one replied or you had to chase down friends to see if he/she was going to attend or not?