Have you ever held a party or an event and been frustrated when people don’t RSVP? You clearly placed a deadline on the invitation when you needed their response by. Do they not know what RSVP means? I’ve come to realize that some people actually don’t know the meaning. RSVP stands for repondez s’il vous plait, which is French for “please respond.”
As we approach the holidays, I wanted to give an overview of RSVPs. This article covers why RSVPs are needed, what you should include in your RSVP request, how to respond as a guest and what to do if a guest has not given their RSVP by the deadline.
Why bother to RSVP?
Planning an event has a lot of moving parts. One big part of hosting is planning for the number of people who will be attending. If it’s in their home, the host will need to coordinate with the caterer or shop for the food. They also want to make sure there will be enough seating.
If the event is at a venue, the host will need to give the venue a headcount a couple of weeks before the event. This ensures that there will not only be enough food and seating but also enough staff scheduled to work the event.
What to include on your RSVP request
When sending out invitations, make sure to include an RSVP date and a deadline when you need their response. Also include how you want to receive the response: Mail, Phone Call, Text Message, Email?
For a more formal event such as a wedding, you can include an RSVP card with a stamped-addressed envelope to be sent back to you. Today, many couples utilize their wedding website to collect RSVPs. Include the website URL on the invitation if that is how you are collecting your guest responses.
For more casual events, many times we see the invitation sent via email or text message. Make sure to include a response deadline in those communications. If it’s a verbal invitation, you can say something like: “We’d love to have you over for a BBQ next weekend. Please let me know by next Monday if you and Richard can come.”
As the Guest
When you receive an invitation that includes an RSVP, please respond as soon as possible and definitely by the deadline given. Sometimes there are situations when you can’t respond right away. If the deadline is approaching and you haven’t given the host your response yet, let them know that you’re still trying to coordinate your schedule and you will let them know as soon as possible. If the deadline has arrived and you still don’t know if you will be able to attend, I suggest declining the invitation so you’re not leaving the host in limbo.
If you’ve responded Yes to an invitation and something comes up that requires you to change that to a No, let they host know right away. That “something” should not be a better offer.
When you receive an invitation, take note of who was actually invited. Is it just you, you and a plus-one, you and your family? Please do not ask to bring additional guests that were not included on the invitation. This includes asking if you can bring your children. If you're unsure who is invited, clarify with the host.
If you have not received an RSVP by the deadline, it’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to the guest to ask if they will be attending. They may not have received the invitation. A simple, “Hi Jeannine, I’m checking to see if you and Richard will be coming to the wedding?” Then wait for their response.
These tips will help you be a gracious host as well as the perfect guest as we go into the holiday party season!
Suzy Lins is a certified etiquette trainer located in Southern California. Educating on manners and etiquette to help people gain confidence to master business and social situations is the core of her teaching.