Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Elusive RSVP

I thought that it was just me, but it's not. Many hostesses complain that people never give an RSVP anymore when invited to a dinner, a party, a wedding, whatever. Some say that it is because that the general public no longer knows the meaning of "RSVP." It simply means "please reply," or, in formal parlance, "the favor of a reply is requested." If you think that the majority of your guests are in the dark about the meaning of "RSVP," then it is better to just write "please reply." Hopefully, they will get the point.

Anyone who has planned a large party or reception is aware of how important it is to have a head count. It is particularly vital when arranging a formal, catered sit-down dinner, in which the caterer expects to be paid per head. And yet, I have friends and relatives who have been greatly inconvenienced by guests who did give an RSVP to a formal sit-down dinner and then never showed up. Why is there such a lack of courtesy? Such gestures are not a matter of having grand, formal manners but of showing basic consideration for others.

Here are a few points to remember:

1) When invited to a function always respond in the time frame designated by the RSVP. If a reply is asked for only if one plans to go, that is fine. (It is always courteous and acceptable to thank the hostess anyway, even if one cannot attend.)

2) If you do not know whether or not you can go to the party, it is better to decline. Otherwise, you give the strong impression that you will accept unless you get a *better* invitation somewhere else. Just say "no."

3)When invited to a party at someone's house, do not respond with "I don't know" and then go on to have your own party, on the same day, inviting the same circle of friends. That is the height of rudeness, to say the least.

4) If you have accepted the invitation, assuring the host and hostess of the pleasure of your company, but then at the last minute find that you are unable to be there, then at least call the host/hostess. Give them your most heartfelt apologies. This will give them time to rearrange the table.

5) After having enjoyed an event, be careful not to talk about it around those who were not invited. There may be reasons unkown to yourself why various persons were not invited to a certain function. It must always, however, be taken for granted that everyone has feelings and may be hurt at hearing about the good time at a party from which they were excluded. Share


Anonymous said...

I believe this etiquette should be extended to workshops, conferences, meetings, etc. I've been to two library meetings/conferences at my university and there were name tags of participants who never came. It's unfair to the host place because they need to have a head count for the caterers and money could well be lost.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, it is really wrong to do to people on a budget.

Anonymous said...

I must be very old fashioned. I sent my reply to a wedding invitation just yesterday and the hosts thanked me for being one of the very few to have sent the reply on time. I can't work out why it's so difficult to respond in good time to invitations, if nothing else it keeps your own diary in order!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Adrienne, I like to reply right away. I always make a note of it on a calendar, so I can remember to RSVP if too busy at the moment.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that people have to be told these things. It just goes along with the thoughtful thing to do.

Anonymous said...

ah, #3, did that happen to you?

Anonymous said...

Your RSVP article is very true.
>>My parents once had a party and about 30 people said that they would show up, so we ended up buying all this food and only about 8 out of the 30 people came.
>>It's good to know that someone else has good party etiquette:)