Sonia Zubiate

The Protocol Journal

To RSVP or Not to RSVP - There Should Never Be Any Question

Replying to invitations has become a lost courtesy in today’s society.  I have discovered that many professionals do not know the proper etiquette regarding RSVPs.  The acronym RSVP stands for the French phrase "Repondez s’il vous plait".  Which means “Reply if you please.”  When you receive an invitation, whether by mail, telephone, Email, or face to face, you must reply as to whether you are accepting or regretting.  Remember that when you reply and say “I am RSVPing”, the term RSVP does not mean “Yes” you are attending.  When you reply please inform the host as to whether you are attending or regretting the invitation, not RSVPing.

Due to the general lack of responses to invitations, many businesses have to interrupt staff and use valuable office time to place numerous telephone calls following up with people who have failed to respond to an invitation.  Why is it so important?  Well, many decisions depend upon the number of people expected to attend an event.  A venue must be selected and reserved, vendor contracts and deposits must be made, appropriate amounts of food, tables, seating, linens, and a myriad of other items must be ordered.  Most vendors have deadlines several days prior to an event regarding the final number of attendees expected to attend.  Deposits can be lost if deadlines are not met or the budget for an event can balloon out of control with last minute RSVPs.  The last thing the host of an event wants is the embarrassment of not having enough of or too much of everything.

Did you know that many companies and organizations enforce a rule called “Three strikes and you’re out?”  It means that if someone fails to RSVP to invitations three times in a row, they are unceremoniously dropped off of the invitation list for future events.  

In order to avoid being exiled to the RSVP hall of shame, I have provided several tips on RSVP etiquette for you.

  • Accept or decline an invitation within 48 hours of receipt and certainly by the RSVP due date.
  • If you have accepted an invitation, follow through and keep your commitment.
  • Be punctual.
  • When unforeseen circumstances cause you to cancel at the last minute, call the host personally before the event, apologize and explain the reason why you cannot attend.
  • Please don’t show up to an event unexpectedly or uninvited.
  • Do not bring a guest with you unless the invitation specifically states that you may bring a guest. If you suddenly find yourself hosting an out town visitor during the time frame of an event you are supposed to attend, inform the host of your circumstances and extend your regrets.  It is up to the host of the event whether or not they want to extend an invitation to your out of town visitor.
  • Send a handwritten Thank-you note to your host after the event.
  • Remember that whether you are invited to a small private dinner party or a large event, it is an honor to receive an invitation.

Dedicated to your success,
Sonia Zubiate

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