Organizing any event is, no doubt, a herculean task. Apart from the various preparations, you also have a long list of guests to attend to. Managing food and drinks for such a large number of people can be pretty stressful for the hosts. However, the stress level can be considerably reduced if you know the accurate number of guests attending the event, beforehand. This is where an RSVP invitation comes into the picture. It stands for Respondez S'il Vous Plait, which is French for 'please respond'. However, proper knowledge of RSVP etiquette is a must, so as to make the best of this formality.
Importance of RSVP
The main use of an RSVP is to allow the hosts to have the correct head count for their event. For formal events, RSVP letters often come in self-addressed envelopes with a stamp, so that the guests can post them right away. It also includes vital information that is helpful to both the guests, as well as the hosts. However, if proper etiquette is not followed, the whole purpose of sending an RSVP is defeated.
Etiquette for Hosts
Your RSVP card must include all the necessary information like date of event, venue, dress code, etc. The clarity of information is a must to avoid embarrassment later. You cannot afford to go wrong with the information details.
Whom to Call
If you have particular restrictions on the number of guests you want at your event, then mention it clearly in the invitation. An RSVP should be addressed to the head of the family, and to single guests with a 'plus one' option. Invitations addressed only to the couple, is a polite way of saying their children are not invited to the event. Thus, you should choose your words correctly.
Wedding etiquette involves sending 'save the date' cards at least 2 to 4 months prior to the event, whereas it is acceptable to send invites along with the RSVP, at least 2 to 4 weeks prior to the event. This gives your guests ample time to go through their schedules and reply to your RSVP. However, do not send the invitations at the eleventh hour and expect your guests to reply them.
Mode of Reply
If you are not sending a self-addressed RSVP letter, then clearly mention on the invite how you would like your guests to reply. Give your full name, address, telephone number, and email id, and mention your preferred mode of reply.
Etiquette for Guests
When to Reply
Ideally, you should reply to an RSVP as soon as you receive the invite. If you need to reschedule your calendar events or consult your spouse, do so in a timely manner. You should give your hosts at least a week before the event to make necessary arrangements. If the RSVP is in the form of 'regrets only' then you are not supposed to reply, in case you are attending the event. In that case, the host has already counted you in.
Number of People Attending
Double-check the information details to see to whom the invite is addressed for. You are not supposed to take your children unless the invite is addressed to the 'family'. Similarly, dates, beaus, or random guests are not welcome if the invite is addressed specifically to you. If you must, check-mark the selection box if you are bringing guests and clearly mention the number of people you will be taking with you.
How to Reply
Reply to an RSVP in the mode as mentioned by the host. If nothing is mentioned, then it is part of the etiquette to always reply with a written letter only. Computerized RSVPs can be replied to in a minute, with the click of a mouse.
Reply and Show Up
If you reply to an RSVP, you have no option but to attend the event. Only emergencies should prevent you from doing so, in which case, your hosts will sympathize with you. If possible, send a quick message explaining your situation. On the other hand, it is plain rude not to reply to an RSVP and then show up unannounced at the event.
Thus, RSVP etiquette must be strictly followed by both the parties. Failure to do so, can sometimes result in misunderstandings between the two parties involved.