26 Feb

Etiquette :: RSVP 101

Most of our acquaintances have horrible RSVP etiquette. I am not sure why, but responding to an RSVP just doesn’t happen. So you’re invited to a party and at the bottom of the invite, there are four little letters. RSVP. As a host, my biggest pet peeve is when people do not respond in a timely manner (or not respond at all). Whether it is to a wedding, a dinner party, shower or gala event, an invitation comes with some important obligations. Here’s a quick guide to keep you on the guest list for future activities.

RSVP Basics

RSVP is a French acronym meaning, “Répondez, s‘il vous plaît,” or, “Please reply.” These four little letters are seen on every wedding invitation, bridal shower and most parties. Basically, it is saying, your host wants you to attend and a head count is needed for organization purposes (ie. food quantities, table placements, deposits!!! etc). The key thing is to reply promptly, within a day or two of receiving an invitation. Yes, your life is busy and schedules get hectic, but the host also has a busy life and a hectic schedule.

Question: How do I respond?

Answer: Reply in the manner indicated on the invitation.

  • RSVP and no response card: a handwritten response to the host at the return address on the envelope.
  • Response Card: fill in and reply by the date indicated and return in the enclosed envelope.
  • Regrets only: reply only if you cannot attend. If your host doesn’t hear from you, he is expecting you!
  • No reply requested? This is unusual, but it is always polite to let someone know your intentions. Depending on the formality of the event, a handwritten note, phone call, email, text is sufficient.

Question: What if something happens and I need to cancel?

Answer: It depends on the situation which causes you to cancel.

  • Changing a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ is only acceptable on account of: illness or injury, a death in the family or an unavoidable professional or business conflict. Call your hosts immediately.
  • Canceling because a “better” offer is a sure fire way to get dropped from future engagements
  • Being a “no show” is unacceptable. Contact the host (if for a wedding, let someone close to the bride/groom know).
  • However, changing a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ is OK only if it will not upset the hosts’ arrangements. (Every rule has a rule exception).

Question: May I bring X to the party?

Answer: Don’t even ask! An invitation is extended to the people the hosts want to invite-and no one else.

  • …a date. Some invitations indicate that you may invite a guest or date (Mr. Joe Smith and Guest) and when you reply, you should indicate whether you are bringing someone, and convey his/her name.
  • …my children/nanny/mother. If they were invited, the invitation would have said so.
  • … my house guest. It’s best to decline the invitation, stating the reason. This gives your host the option to extend the invitation to your guests, or not.

Exceptions

Office holiday parties may extend the invitation to spouses/significant others and not just the employees. Just be aware of company policy or ask your co-worker about previous parties.

House parties are usually a free for all, but let the host know you are bringing X amount of people.

Word of Mouth invitations: It seems like it is a casual event and not much planning is required of the host. No RSVP is needed.

Evites/Facebook/Gvites will note on the invitation if guests are allowed.
(gathered from Emily Post and various other sources)

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