Is the RSVP Dead?

Is the RSVP Dead?

“It’s three days before my dinner party, and only a few of my guests have bothered to RSVP. Are the others coming? Should I call them? Should I plan on their attending or assume they will not? If I assume they will not, what will I do if they do show up? How much food should I prepare? Should I prepare extra in case some of the guests bring others who were not invited? What about seating? Maybe my guests don’t even know what an RSVP is!”

What is a host to do? These are the questions that keep hosts up at night and scare others away from ever giving thought to hosting an event.

When guests are asked why they neglected to RSVP, the comments often include the following:

“You knew I was going to attend.” (Does that mean I’m a mind reader?)

“I told you I would be attending when I saw you at the store on Saturday.” (Maybe I need to carry my guest list everywhere I go.)

“I forgot.” (I didn’t forget to invite you.)

And the worst, “I was waiting to see what else might be going on that day.” (I guess my invitation was not important.)

Sadly, less than fifty percent of guests bother to RSVP, with little or no concern given to the generous invitation extended by the host. Nothing frustrates a host more than guests who do not reply. And nothing wins the favor of a host like a guest who responds promptly.

What is an RSVP?

RSVP is a French phrase, “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” which in English means respond if you please. By the way, you would not say “please RSVP” in your invitation because that would be redundant.

RSVP is part of every invitation. A polite guest will respond within a few days of receiving the invitation. For guests who may not know what it means, some hosts are choosing to say, ”please respond” instead of RSVP.

Invitations that say “regrets only” have the potential to leave the host clueless. Did the non-replying guests know that their silence meant they will be attending, or did they simply overlook the message?

One solution for the lack of an RSVP for informal invitations is to say, “Please respond by December 15.” At least the host can then decide if he or she would like to call the non-responsive guests to ask them whether they received their invitations and whether they are able to attend.

Once you have sent an RSVP for an event, don’t be a no-show. The absent guest often says that he or she simply forgot.  That is no excuse. It is not the job of the host to remind guests of the special event to which they were honored to be invited. Google calendar can do that job for you. And if your long-lost friend happens to “drop in” the day of the event, don’t say that she or he is welcome to go with you and that no one will mind. Extra guests are not viewed as hostess gifts.

Does an RSVP matter? Yes! The fact that a host thought enough about you as a guest to include you in the festivities requires your acknowledgment of the invitation and a decision about whether or not you will be able to attend. Any event, from an intimate dinner party to a large celebration, requires planning, preparation, financial investment, and care. The least that guests can do is to let the host know whether they will be able to participate.

The RSVP is not dead, but a host may count the guest who neglects to RSVP as dead to the guest list, present and future.

©2013 What Would Mrs King Do? If you would like to use this article in your newsletter or blog, you may do so. Please include our credit information: Written by Deborah King, What Would Mrs King Do? © Copyright 2013. I would also appreciate it if you would send us a copy for our files to mrsking@whatwouldmrskingdo.com.

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