Manners Monday: RSVP Etiquette

February 28, 2018

An invite to a wedding, a dinner party, a fundraising event, a baby shower – any kind of event that requires an invitation – also requires a very simple obligation from the recipient: an RSVP. From the French, it means “Répondez, s’il vous plaît,” or, “Please reply.” This short phrase is politely informing you that your hosts want to know if you are attending.·


RSVP as follows:


·PROMPTLY. The longer your host has to plan for an accurate number of guests, the better the event will be and the more fun everyone will have. Trust me, the short time it takes you to RSVP is nothing compared to the time & energy put into planning the event.

·If there is no response card included, a handwritten response to the host at the return address on the envelope is acceptable.

· If a Response Card is included: complete it and return it in the enclosed envelope by the given date. (Spring for the stamp if it’s not pre-stamped. The $0.46 for is money well spent.)

· If a phone number is included make that phone call and be sure to speak to the host in person – answering machines can be unreliable.

· If an email or website is included, you may accept or decline electronically.

· If the host requests Regrets Only then you reply only if you cannot attend. Remember, this means that If your host doesn’t hear from you, they expect to see you on the event date!

· No reply requested? This is very unusual, and most likely for a very informal event, but it is still polite to let your host know your intentions. A phone call or email will suffice in this situation.

· Social Media invites are a whole different ballgame. People use social media invitations for so many different types of events. Yet they still count on RSVP’s to give them an accurate number of attendees – especially for fundraising events.· If you really do plan to attend the event – by all means indicate your intention. (and change your reply if you discover you are not able to attend.)

· If you can’t attend the event, reply “no”, let them know you’re thankful for the invite and share it with your network(s) if appropriate.

· If you’re not sure, reply “maybe” and again if appropriate, share with your network(s), and indicate your final answer either way as soon as you know for certain.

· If you have replied “yes” to an invitation of any kind, being a “No Show” is unacceptable.

· Whether it is a large or small event, you host has planned, prepared and paid for a certain number of guests. When you reply you will be attending an event, you are obligated to arrive.

· You are also obligated to arrive on time:· A special note for Weddings: arrive at least 15 – 20 minutes (but no more than 30) before the time indicated on the invitation. That time is the time the wedding begins. (Do not go looking for the bride, groom, their parents or the rest of the bridal party during this time. They are busy with last minute preparations and can NOT visit before the ceremony.)

· If you arrive within 5 minutes of a wedding start time, expect to wait until after the bride has made her entrance before finding your seat (in the back)

· Emergencies do occur and you should contact your host as soon as possible to let them know you will not be attending and why.

· Acceptable and cancel-worthy exceptions:

· Illness or injury

· A death in the family

· An unavoidable and unforeseen professional or business conflict

· Changing a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ is OK only if it will not upset the hosts’ arrangements.

· CALL FIRST – do not just show up unannounced.

· If you have to ask…Don’t! An invitation is extended to the people the hosts want to invite—and no one else. Can I bring:· …a date/friend. Some invitations indicate that you may invite a guest or date (Mr. William Smith and Guest) and when you reply, you should indicate whether you are bringing someone, and convey their name.· …my children. If they were invited, the invitation would have said so.· …my houseguest. 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.

· If you are unsure – take a couple of minutes to contact your host to ask their preference and graciously accept their answer.

· Make sure to thank your hosts before you leave, and then again by phone or note the next day.

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