The Importance of the RSVP
There is nothing more unnerving than planning a party only to be unsure about who is actually coming. You try your best to add RSVP information but for some reason, some people just don’t get it. RSVP means, “let a sista know if you’re going to show up, or not.” So, in the interest of social decorum (I’m still learning myself) and social order, let’s review the meaning and importance of the RSVP.
RSVP, Répondez s’il vous plaît, is a French phrase that translates to “please respond.” It is with this meaning that invitation cards and similar documents are often marked with “RSVP.” It is standard practice to reply to an RSVP request whether confirming attendance or declining.
The Modern Manners Guy sets the stage in explaining the “why” of RSVPing. This example has been me on many occasions trying to be the perfect host and urban socialite:
The host or hostess of the party has gotten excited about something and decided to open his or her home to a lot of people, or maybe spend the money to rent a nice location. They thoughtfully plan to have food and beverages at the gathering. Perhaps they even send out printed invitations, and so at this point, a lot of time and effort has been taken by the instigating party to instigate this party.
Yes, that explains it perfectly. And more often than not my guests fail to RSVP. By some new found telepathic powers I’m supposed to “just know” that my best girlfriends are coming, that so-and-so is out of town, and that Sistagirl is going to be bringing her new beau. Given I don’t have these types of powers (yet), I am usually left wondering if anyone is coming at all, and if I’ll have enough food.
So, let’s review. About.com puts it plainly enough:
If RSVP is written on an invitation it means the invited guest must tell the host whether or not they plan to attend the party. It does not mean to respond only if you’re coming, and it does not mean respond only if you’re not coming (the expression “regrets only” is reserved for that instance). It means the host needs a definite head count for the planned event, and needs it by the date specified on the invitation.
If you receive an invitation requesting an RSVP, please show your host the courtesy of responding if you plan on attending or not. Your host took the time to invite you. Take the time to do the same in responding.