When you're preparing to host a function, the invites—and the attached RSVP—are a vital component. Event charges are often per head, meaning there's a cost attached to every guest. The RSVP helps you finalize your numbers or fill the quota you've already settled on.
Strict etiquette dictates that written invites require written responses, but, understandably, that's fallen out of fashion in recent years, in favor of more tech-savvy options.
The use of the term "RSVP" originates in 18th or 19th-century France, possibly even King Louis XIV's court. RSVP is an abbreviation of "repondez, s'il vous plaît," which is French for "please respond."
The French rarely use RSVP these days. But it's had staying power in the English-speaking world, where event invitees are frequently asked to RSVP and let the host know their attendance status for planning purposes.
Tangible invitations are becoming less common, but if you like the tradition of a wedding invitation card with its gorgeous stationery and sense of ceremony, you can include an RSVP insert and an address for posting or dropping it off. A generic card will have a line for their name and the number in their party, and boxes to check for yes or no.
Alternatively, your paper invite could encourage responses via email or a contact number. These days, a line for dietary restrictions is also common, and it's best to request a deadline and how you'd prefer they send their response.
It's best to reply in the manner indicated by the host, but if it's not specified and you plan to respond via text or social media, make sure you have the correct phone number or that the social profile is active. You want to ensure that the host actually receives your response if you're not giving it in person.
E-vites often arrive with accept or decline buttons. If you click on the latter, it's good form to let the host know why you can't make it to their personal or intimate work event, though there's need to over-explain.
The host will generally send save-the-dates or invitations well before the event is due to take place. Then the ball is in the recipient's court.
Ideally, you would respond ASAP, but if you're unsure about schedule conflicts and whether you can swap important items on your calendar, ask the host for a hard deadline for your response if one isn't provided.
An invitation may ask you to kindly RSVP as soon as possible, or it may be more specific and request that you RSVP with regrets only. This distinction is more practical for events with dozens or even hundreds of guests and means you should only get in touch with the host if you can't attend the event.
In this case, a lack of a reply confirms your attendance. Send your regrets with this sort of sentiment: "I would have loved to attend. Unfortunately, I have a prior commitment. Thank you for the invitation and good luck!"
Life happens. If you can no longer make it to a function, you should let the host know, even if you feel like it's short notice. They may want to send out a last-minute invitation to an acquaintance who just missed the first cut.
Express your sincere apologies and give a brief reason why circumstances changed. This explanation isn't always necessary but is essential for a celebration like a wedding.
Human error can creep into the invitation process, and people can forget that they were meant to get back to you. Some don't understand the significance of the request because they haven't been in your event-organizing shoes before.
It's a schlep, but you'll have to reach out and follow up with the people you've invited who are sluggish in their replies. Be warm and polite, and the confirmations and numbers should start to fall into place.
There are some things you just don't do. Texting a "maybe" in response to a wedding invitation is one of them. In a world where communication via text is the norm, getting lost in tonal translation is still a problem. But a non-commital "maybe" just comes across as rude and like you'll show up if you've got nothing better to do.
Give context and say, "I'd love to be there if I can get out of this work trip. Can I get back to you within a week?"
You can write or type RSVP however you please. There are no set-in-stone rules about using capital letters and periods between the letters, but many style guides and dictionaries stick to a capitalized RSVP with no periods.
In addition, it's almost as redundant to say, 'please RSVP' as it is to say chai tea. So pedants will ask that you leave out the English "please", s'il vous plaît.
When you reply to an RSVP request, do so on behalf of everyone on your invitation if you're named first. "Mr and Mrs So and So and Family" refers to immediate members of your household, not your cousin Frankie who lives in Winnipeg and is in the mood for free booze.
If someone specific is included in the card but can't make it, don't assume you can sub in a guest of your choice. Finally, when the big day arrives, be respectful of any no-child policies and the dress code.