Many of us receive formal invitations in the mail to attend weddings, formal celebrations, retirement banquets, galas, etc.  However, when we receive the invitation do we really pay close attention to whom the invitation is addressed to and all of the fine points?  If not, we need to slow down and pay close attention to the particulars of this special delivery.  Proper etiquette leads to formal respect.

First let’s define the acronym, R.S.V.P.   In the context of social invitations, RSVP is a request for a response from the invited person or people. It is an initialism derived from the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît, literally “Reply if you please” or “Reply please”.**

This will be a 3 part series on “R.S.V.P Etiquette” covering the obligations as a Guest, Host, and Wedding Professional.  Today we will cover “10 Rules of Thumb as a Guest”.


10 Rules of Thumb to R.S.V.P as a Guest:

  1.  It’s a Social Obligation to “accept” or “not to accept”:  Please respond to your host with an answer.  When your host is requesting an r.s.v.p., they want you to respond either with an2414_FBN21251Bmnacceptance or non-acceptance of their invitation.  On occasion you may receive an invite that states, “R.S.V.P regrets only”; this means to respond only if you can’t attend – do know otherwise your attendance is expected by your host.
  2. Be Courteous – Respond by the Due Date:  Your host places a date for your reply for a reason.  Your quick response assists with their preparedness to know how many persons will be attending and to staff appropriately.  Remember your host is making an investment to ensure that you have a wonderful time.
  3. Reply back in the Manner requested by your Host:  If your host inserts a r.s.v.p card, please complete and return the card; if they indicate to email – email your response; lastly if they say to call then call to provide your response.
  4. The Plus “1” Rule:  Proper etiquette states that only the name(s) that are addressed on the envelope are the only persons invited to the special event.  To be respectful to your host(s), you should acknowledge this form of etiquette and only respond back indicating just the person(s) specified on the invitation.  It is not proper etiquette to ignore this formality, and to take upon yourself to invite more persons than indicated without consulting with your host.  Don’t take it personal if you are not able to have a plus one.  So, when you receive your next invitation in the mail, pay close attention to the addressee line!!
  5. Change of Heart:  If for some reason at the last-minute you are not able to attend after you have accepted the invitation, it is only proper to CALL your host to explain your situation as to why you can’t attend…do not be impolite and be a no-show.  Express your change of heart as soon as you know that your decision has changed.
  6. Remember, Remember:  If you “accept”, you are obligated to attend!
  7. Do Not Critique the Menu:  If your host request that you make a meal selection do so accordingly, however, do not ask for special requests just to be asking.  If you are a vegetarian or have special dietary restraints only indicate when the option is provided; note, most caterers or restaurants already prepare meals for guests with dietary restrictions.
  8. Don’t Assume:  If you are close to the host, don’t assume that because you are close friends that they know you are coming.  Be a true friend and follow the directions provided by your friend and r.s.v.p through the appropriate channel – don’t be a party or wedding crasher!
  9. Post Gratitude:  Send a quick response or note to inform your host of your gratitude.
  10. Be on Time:  It’s wedding or party day, so be on time!!!!

**Source:  Wikipedia

Blogged by:  Tara Melvin, Certified Wedding & Event Planner