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The Guest List Shouldn’t Be A Guess List: RSVP Etiquette

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

From weddings to post-nuptial parties including the simplest of backyard soirees and kiddie celebrations, it all takes careful planning. And, while it’s all about having a grand old time, party planning isn’t all just fun and games. In fact, there’s often a lot of time, effort, and even stress involved. Yet, most people take the hostesses’s/host’s invitation “for granted” and either wait until the last minute to reply, while others simply don’t reply at all.

All we etiquette enthusiasts can say is “shame on you”. An invitation of any kind is a call to action, preferably by the invitee. Yet, more often than not it’s the “inviter” who is chasing down his or her prospective guests.

Responding, though literally translated to respond sil vous plais (or respond if you please) really doesn’t leave you much of an option. Responding is a MUST, even it the host/hostess already knows that you will or will not be attending. It’s a matter of proper protocol and respect. In fact, etiquette mandates that a response (either way, unless otherwise stated on the invite) is offered in a timely manner, preferably as soon as you get the invitation in the mail or via emails. If you must check your calendar or discuss it with your spouse, do it immediately and don’t delay in sending back your reply. Remember, party invites are often time sensitive…and the sooner the host and/or hostess get your response they sooner he, she, or they can finalize plans and move ahead with preparations.

If your hosts are unreachable by phone, simply leave a message or respond through the mail, especially if there is a reply card enclosed. If however, there is no phone number or reply card, send YOUR reply mimicking the formality of the invite including: your name; your acceptance or decline; date and time of event; and the reason for not attending, if applicable.

It’s also equally as important for the host or hostess to make sure their invite is thorough and detailed and sent out properly with all the information necessary and that will make it easy for invited guests to respond. Otherwise you may find yourself at wits end trying to track down invitees, responses and trying to figure out who exactly “will” attend.

Another “no-no” is regrets only invites. Guests often don’t reply at all, not even at the last minute and that just invites stragglers and those who change their mind at the last second.

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