Someone special in your life has invited you to celebrate with them on their most special of days. In it, you see a card that says RSVP so what does that mean?
You’ve arrived home from work after a long day and go to your inbox and find mixed in with the usual bills and junk mail, a beautiful shiny envelope, printed with a beautiful calligraphy font. You know right away it’s something special and as you open it you find that you have received a lovely wedding invitation from someone special in your life.
As you read through the invitation and accompanying cards, you see “RSVP’ and while you know you are supposed to fill it out, you wonder what RSVP actually means.
What does RSVP mean?
RSVP is simply an abbreviation for the french phrase ‘répondez s’il vous plaît’. Translated in english, this literally means ‘respond, if you please’ or basically ‘please respond’.
How to RSVP
If done properly, invitations requiring an RSVP will include instructions on how to respond. A formal invitation like a wedding invitation will include the RSVP details usually on a seperate card that you fill out and return in the provided envelope.
More informal invitations like a baby shower or birthday party invitation may simply provide a telephone number or an email with instructions on how to respond. Some modern events even have electronic options for responding by going to a designated website for example.
Wedding invitation RSVP cards are not all worded the same. Some are pre-printed with the guests names to make it clear who is actually invited whereas others include a blank line for the guests to write in who will be attending. Some may also include a line to write in the number of guests attending. Some couples limit the number of guests invited from each household (adults only) so be sure you read through the invitation completely.
If you aren’t sure who is actually invited and nothing is written on the card naming people specifically, double check who the invitation was addressed to (on the envelope). Couples are often named together, sometimes followed by “and family” which would then indicate that your children are also invited. IF you are single and see “plus one” or “and guest” then you know you are allowed to bring a guest. If you only see your own name and no indication of someone coming with you then you should assume that the invitation is only for you.
When to RSVP
Whether a more casual party invitation or a formal wedding invitation, most of the time when a response is requested, there is a deadline for doing so. The reason this is the case is because the host needs to have a final headcount of attendees for finalizing the amount of food from the caterer, number of favors, etc. It is always best to respond as soon as you are able rather than putting it off and maybe even forgetting about it.
This also allows the host to potentially offer invitations to additional guests especially if space is limited at the venue. Waiting till the last minute to reply leaves the host no time to invite additional guests.
If you are invited to an event and you aren’t sure that you will be able to attend, it’s better to decline the invitation rather than wait or not respond at all.
Why It’s SO IMPORTANT to RSVP
Responding to a wedding invitation is an absolute must regardless of whether you are able to attend or not. It’s likely that the couple had to make some difficult decisions when it came to establishing their guest list and sometimes this creates tension between the two families. Every wedding guest costs money and the cost-per-person factors into the overall wedding budget so receiving an invitation likely means someone else doesn’t get invited.
With this in mind, you can maybe see why it’s so very important to let the couple know whether you will be attending or not.
RSVP Wording Etiquette
In most casts, RSVP cards will include a line that tells you the deadline to respond. The same is often true on more casual invitations too. For example, the RSVP card in the wedding invitation you received may say something like “Kindly reply by September 1st”
September 1st, then is the hard deadline for responding but this doesn’t mean you can’t respond well before that. In fact, as mentioned above, the sooner, the better.
What if your plans change? Cancelling or Changing and RSVP
Sometimes life happens but for a wedding especially, it is extremely bad form to cancel and RSVP or to simply not show up. Of course there are exceptions like a death in your family or an illness but these things are the exception, not the norm.
If you have responded yes to a wedding invitation then a meal has been paid for, favors counted and other plans have been made based on your positive response. The time to decline was when you made your response and should have also been the time you considered your schedule, finances and other impacts.
If you genuinely cannot attend after replying that you could, be sure to contact the host, or couple as soon as possible. It’s always best to avoid an overly-complicated explanation but providing a reason for you being unable to attend is proper. Also be sure to offer a sincere apology so they know your understanding of the situation and to avoid hard feelings.