Sunday, August 10, 2008

RSVPs, Regrets and More

Maria came over tonight for takeout, wine and girl TV. While she was over, I showed her a proof of my wedding invitation materials (invitation itself, directions and the response card). 

She thought the materials looked great (thanks again Cara and Greg) but had a question about the response postcard.

"Are you supposed to put a blank for the number of people attending?" she asked.

I responded, saying, "I think you're actually supposed to fill in the 'M____________ field with all the names of the people attending. An example would be 'Mr. Dan Mallory and Miss Katy Beck.' That would make two people."

Maria, having just tied the knot herself (actually, not by herself, but with her now husband) back in May, knows better than anyone about responses and how much you can count on them. She told me of how few people knew how to fill in the response cards correctly and how some people wrote in that they were bringing their children despite only the adults' names being on her outside and inside envelopes.

This launched us into a conversation that's come up all too many times recently.... what is the deal with people not knowing how to handle RSVPs and Regrets?

Dan, my fiance, claims "the system is broken." I don't totally understand what's so tough about handling them correctly, but I do recognize his point that something isn't working.

RSVP. Most of us, myself included, can't repeat verbatim that RSVP stands for "Repondez s'il vous plait," French for "reply, please." I do know, however, when I receive something that says "RSVP" at the bottom that I should call the host regardless, letting him or her know if I will be able to attend -- and if so, who my guest will be.

Regrets seem a little more straight forward. If an invitation mentions "Regrets Only," this means you only call the host if you are unable to attend the event. In other words, you're calling to say, "I regret I am unable to attend..."

Emily Post and her contemporaries tell us we need to respect the needs and wishes of party hosts, following through with the RSVPs or Regrets as indicated. And I believe this is fairly common knowledge. Seems easy enough, right? In an era where Evites aren't quite yet kosher enough for formal events, everyone ought to become familiar with the rules. 

Well, then why is it so difficult for people to make the call? From parties I've hosted, attended or helped coordinate on the periphery, it seems as though the answers have to be dragged out of people.

I put myself in the place of the invitation recipient. What is going on in my head? Here is what I came up with:
  • I feel really guilty I cannot attend. I don't really want to call and tell anyone I can't come to the event.
  • If this invitation says "RSVP" and I'm planning on attending, I don't have to call. (wrong)
  • Will anyone really notice if I don't call?
  • I feel awkward calling someone I don't know. Do I really have to?
To address the first point, if you feel that nervous about saying you cannot come to an event for your friends, you have bigger problems than calling to say you cannot attend. Your real friends will understand a prior commitment or your inability to travel from a time and money perspective.

Response to bullet point two: an RSVP asks for your response regardless. If you can come, you call. If you can't come, you call. And when you do call, you don't just say "I'm calling to RSVP." Due to the meaning of an RSVP, you must indicate "I am RSVPing 'yes'" or "I am RSVPing 'no.'"

Yes, people will notice if you don't call. Hosts take numbers into consideration when they order food, drinks, favors, space and so on and so forth. In the event of a wedding, a guest costs anywhere from $50 to $150 dollars for the couple. RSVPing "yes" and not making the event is costly for the couple. (Note I am not venting about anything personal here, as we haven't even sent out our invitations yet).

Final and fourth point. If you can call and make reservations or a doctor's appointment, you can call a stranger and let them know whether or not you're attending an event they're hosting. Chances are, they won't bite, especially over the phone. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is getting married in a few weeks and she has run into the situation where the names on the invitation were specific and more people were added by the recipient. It places the host/hostess in an awkward position when numbers are already an issue. People just don't understand.