By: Adeodata Czink
Business of Manners
RSVP is an acronym for the French phrase ‘répondez s’il vous plaît.’ Translated, it means quite simply ‘please respond.’ Responding is a must. It is not a courtesy.
If somebody bothers to invite us, the least we can do is bother to answer. If Sally invites six people for dinner and one declines right away because she will be out of town, Sally can immediately invite someone else without this seventh person even realizing she is a substitute. But if an invited guest does not respond, Sally doesn’t know if she should invite someone else or not. After all, she has a specific number of place settings. What if too many or not enough people show up?
If the invitation is to a cocktail party or wedding shower rather than a dinner, the host still needs to know how many people to prepare for, how many clothes hangers, plates and coffee cups she should lay out. Even at an award presentation, the host needs to know how many seats are required.
It is not OK to say yes, I’m coming and I’m bringing four buddies with me. If you have a friend here from Guatemala and want to bring her, ask. But ask in such a way that it is easy for the host to say no.
If an invitation comes by mail, as is usual for a wedding, there is a small stamped envelope with a card to tick off yes or no. It is courteous to write a line saying how much you are looking forward to attending or how sorry you are that you can’t participate. If the invitation comes by telephone or fax, call back right away whether your answer is yes or no. If they communicate by e-mail then so do you.
If you have accepted an invitation but you suddenly can’t make it, call right away. Say that something pressing came up and that you are dreadfully sorry. It’s the host’s job to then fill your spot. Do not ever say yes and not show.
I tend to do the RSVP right on the spot. I open my daytimer, decide if I can or want to go, return the call, and immediately mark it on my calendar. Then I don’t have to worry about it any more. It’s time management at its best.
People love it when you are quick to reply. “You are the first one who responded,” is usually their comment, and they seem so happy. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine sending out invitations to 35 people for a garden party and getting 17 responses. How are you going to feel about the remaining 18 people? Are you going to ever invite them again? It takes so little to make someone feel special. RSVP immediately and then think of what gift you will bring.
Business of Manners