RSVP Etiquette

The Implications of R.S.V.P

What is the meaning of R.S.V.P?

It does not represent english words but basically means you have to reply to inform your host of your attendance.

When do I have to send in RSVP?

Usually the most formal and elegant of events and invitations do not state a deadline, trusting in good faith that you are well mannered enough to send in a reply as soon as possible, to make it easier for the hosts to plan a party.

Formal Invitations and Replies

Formal occasions such as weddings, balls, formal dinner parties, daces, receptions, teas, commencements, bar and bat mitzvahs and other official, state, or diplomatic parties require a formal invitation and requires a formal RSVP.

The formal invitation is usually written in third person style.

The days and dates are spelt out,

Saturday Twelfth of December, Two Thousand And Nine, at Half Past Seven O’Clock

Sometimes, the hosts include an RSVP card with a self-addressed envelope along with stamp to make things easier for your RSVP response.

In some cases, you’ll have to fashion your own RSVP.

When you accept such an invitation, the general rule is to “reply-in-kind”. As Emily Post suggests, “The formal reply is written exactly as is the invitation, substituting the order of names. In accepting the invitation, you must repeat the day and hour so that any mistake can be rectified. But if you decline an invitation, it is not necessary to repeat the hour”.

Sounds a bit troublesome? Thankfully, these are rare but it is helpful to know on occasion when we are invited to a diplomatic event.

RSVP Etiquette

Example of Invitation

Mr and Mrs Ashton Bass
request the pleasure of your company
at dinner
on Saturday, twelfth of December
at half past seven o’clock
975 Belmont Drive
Palo Alto CA 94088


RSVP Etiquette

Example of An Accepting Reply

Mr and Mrs Nathaniel T. Thomas
accept with pleasure
the kind invitation of
Mr and Mrs Ashton Bass
for dinner
on Saturday, twelfth of December
at half past seven o’clock

RSVP Etiquette

Example of Declining Reply

Mr and Mrs Nathaniel T. Thomas
regret that they are unable to accept
the kind invitation of
Mr and Mrs Ashton Bass
for dinner
for on Saturday, twelfth of December

RSVP Etiquette

Informal Invitations And Replies

When you receive a less formal or casual invite,

you may reply in the form which the invitation had been extended to you.

For instance, an “e-vite” – use the rsvp link or function of that “e-vite”.

If the invitation is via email, sms, or Facebook, respond according to the instruction or style of language.

You may also wish to respond with a note. handwritten on an informal card.

RSVP Etiquette

General Rule

General Rule of RSVP Etiquette

Respond in the way you have been invited, as politely as possible.

If you decline for whatever reason, you do not have to offer your explanation officially but if it is an invitation from a close friend, you may wish to offer an explanation in private. When you do so, keep it as brief as possible.

Do not give self-indulgent replies saying, “Oh I’ll come if I’m not on an overseas holiday!”, “Oh I’ll drop by if I’m in the country.” Or “Who else is coming?”

Those replies are the height of rudeness especially when the host was kind enough to think of you and extend an invitation.

If you are not sure, please say, “I’m not sure if I can make it but I’ll let you know as soon as possible”. And be a man or woman of your word, and let your host know as soon as possible to aid her planning of the party.

If you have not rsvp-ed to a party that is occurring in less than two weeks, it’s generally understood that you are not coming. But do not let matters get there, it’s best to be discipline ourselves to rsvp.

Assuming that there has been some crisis (though I cannot imagine what it is) and you are not able to rsvp in the way it was extended to you, the least you could do is rsvp by telephoning your host.

Better that you reach her well in advance too.

However this is not acceptable for the most formal dinners.

RSVP Etiquette

Common Rudeness: Asking if someone can come

Question: I’ve been invited to a party but I do not know anyone there. Can I ask my host if I could bring someone?

Answer: No. Especially if your host is providing for the food and drink.

If the party is a casual, pull together, gathering at the city bar where everyone pays for their own, there is a slight chance that you may be able to get away with it. But if you pride your elegance higher than your wish to have someone to come with you, I suggest to never ask if you could bring someone.

Alternative Solution: When regretting an invitation because you want to bring a someone, you could explain your reason in a way that “Oh I would love to come but my friend from overseas is coming over this weekend!”

It is kind of you to give her the opportunity to graciously say, “I’m sorry you can’t come – we’ll miss you!” or if she feels that you should bring your friend along, she would suggest so.

But LET her be the one to suggest, it is not your place to suggest and put her in a spot.

Question: May a single person bring a date/guest to a wedding?

Answer: Only if invitation reads, “and guest”. If so, include your guest’s name in the rsvp.

Question: My husband and I received an invitation to a wedding. However, my husband does not like weddings. Can I bring my sister instead?

Answer: Absolutely not. If the wedding couple would like to invite your sister, she would have extended the invitation.

Common Rudeness: Changing your mind

Do not change your mind often when you have rsvp-ed that you’ll be coming. It is highly inconsiderate.

Do not accept an invitation to an event and then decline because something more interesting came up. Then change your mind and try to attend again because that something interesting alternative fell through.

Try to adhere to your initial response! This sounds like the obvious but in this time and age of digital communication in real time, I find people canceling appointments at every whim, changing time and location of meeting according to their immediate need.

While some people may call it efficient use of their time, they display no consideration of the other party.

Changing my response to an invitation from YES to NO?

Yes you can do it, but call immediately and explain your problem. Express your regrets, send a gift anyway but it is essential you let your hostess know immediately.

Changing my response to an invitation from NO to YES?

If it is a big party, you may call the hostess, explain your changed circumstances and ask if you may change your regret to an acceptance.

However, if the party is small, I suggest that you leave it and let it be. The hostess will surely have filled your place and it would embarrass her if you asked to be reinstated.

Common Rudeness: Bringing children along

It is not good RSVP etiquette to bring children long if it is not stated in the invitation.

Question: If the invitation is addressed to Mr and Mrs, can they bring their children?

Answer: No. Unless their children’s names have been spelt out and in less formal invitations, “and children” will be added.

You might be interested in:

1. The Excellency of Manners

2. Social Ease

3. The Concept of Finishing School

4. Party Etiquette

Return to the top of RSVP Etiquette

You Might Also Like

No Comments

    Leave a Reply