Special delivery! You’ve got Mail! Okay, I am not referring to the 1998 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. A special friend has sent you a formal invitation in the mail to attend possibly their wedding, birthday celebration, retirement celebration, gala, etc. However, when you receive the invitation do you really pay close attention to whom the invitation is addressed to and all of the fine points? If not, it’s time to slow down and pay close attention to the particulars of this special delivery. Proper etiquette leads to a formal response, an R.S.V.P.
First let’s define the acronym, R.S.V.P. In the context of social invitations, R.S.V.P. is a request for a response from the invited person or people. It is an initialism derived from the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît, literally “Reply if you please” or “Reply please”. Now let’s begin with our tips on how you can be the “Perfect Guest”!
It’s a Social Obligation to “accept” or “not to accept”
Please respond to your host with an answer. When your host is requesting an R.S.V.P, they want you to respond either with a simple “yes” or “no” that you will be attending their celebration. On occasion you may receive an invite that states, “R.S.V.P regrets only”; this means to respond only if you can’t attend – otherwise your attendance is expected by your host so please respond.
Respond by the “Due Date”. Your host places a date for your reply for a reason. Your quick response assists with their preparedness to know how many persons will be attending and to plan appropriately. Remember your host is making an investment to ensure that you have a wonderful experience celebrating with them.
Reply Back in the Manner Requested by your Host
If your host inserts an R.S.V.P. card, please complete and return the card; if they indicate to email – email your response; lastly if they say to call then call to provide your response.
The Plus “(1)” Rule
Proper etiquette states that only the name(s) that are addressed on the envelope are the only persons invited to the special event. To be respectful to your host(s), you should acknowledge this form of etiquette and only respond back indicating just the person(s) specified on the invitation. It is not proper etiquette to ignore this formality, and to take upon yourself to invite more persons than indicated without consulting with your host. Don’t take it personal if you are not able to have a plus one. So, when you receive your next invitation in the mail, pay close attention to the addressee line!!
Change of Heart
If for some reason at the last-minute you are not able to attend after you have accepted the invitation, it is only proper to CALL your host to explain your situation as to why you can’t attend…do not be impolite and be a no-show. Express your change of heart as soon as you know that your decision has changed.
Remember Your Obligation
If you “accept”, you are obligated to attend!
Do Not Critique the Menu
If your host(s) request that you make a meal selection do so accordingly, however, do not ask for special requests just to be asking. If you are a vegetarian or have special dietary restraints only indicate when the option is provided; note, most caterers or restaurants already prepare meals for guests with dietary restrictions.
If you are close to the host, don’t assume that because you are close friends that they know you are coming. Be a true friend and follow the directions provided by your friend and R.S.V.P. through the appropriate channel – don’t be a party or wedding crasher!
Send a quick response or note to inform your host of your gratitude.
Be on Time
Don’t be late! Arriving shortly before the event doesn’t mean that you are early, it shows that you are “ready & prepared” for the celebration.