Thursday, March 12, 2009

RSVPs — What Gives?

Today I feel compelled to re-post a portion something from about a year ago:

What is the deal with people not knowing how to handle RSVPs and Regrets?

Dan, my husband, 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 thought this was 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?
  • I live out of town. It's got to be obvious to the host that I'm not coming
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, one guest costs anywhere from $50 to $150 dollars (sometimes more) for the couple. RSVPing "yes" and not making the event is costly for the couple. (We had five people say they were coming to our wedding who didn't show).

Fourth point. If you can call and make restaurant 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. While it's definitely not the best option, if you don't want to call the host, at least tell the person being honored at the shower or party that you will be unable to attend.

And lastly, people come from out of town for weddings quite often — so why would you not RSVP for a baby shower, 40th birthday party, bridal shower or other? RSVP if that's what the host requests, people. We're not that busy.

1 comment:

Molly Allen said...

totally understand :)