Thursday, February 18, 2010

the lost art

"Répondez s'il vous plaît" is translated from French to mean “Please, respond”. Please respond to my request for you to attend party/wedding/shower/other event where I’d like you to be a guest.

We adapted this etiquette in the US in the 1800s. It was used for formal invitations and a written response was typical. However, RSVP requests have evolved with technology in the last few decades and perhaps that has contributed to the lack of proper responses that are received when RSVP is used. In other words, we now ask people to RSVP via email, on evites, and by phone. As a result, the RSVP practice has sort of been diluted and once a formal invitation does come along the etiquette of a proper RSVP seems to be a lost art!

Let’s review the proper etiquette to RSVP an invitation, formal or informal.
  • Reply directly to the RSVP contact listed on the invitation. Do not tell the contact’s brother that you can make the bridal shower and assume that your RSVP will be passed along. Make sure to get your response in to the person requesting it! Do not rely on word of mouth. 
  • Respond exactly how your response was requested. If a response card was included, mail it; if a phone number was listed, call it; if an email is available, send a message.
  • Make no assumptions. For example, if you are in the bridal party and you receive a formal invitation, send the response back. Perhaps the mother of the bride is keeping the guest list. You can’t assume that they know you’re coming. I have heard countless stories of groomsmen who assumed they didn’t have to respond to the invitation since they were in the wedding. Sure, the couple knows you’re coming but there can be vital info on the response card that they do not know like whether you’ll be having chicken or fish for dinner.
  • When using a response card, be sure to fill it out completely so no follow up is needed. You may note an M____________ on the response card. The M is for Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. Start there with your formal name and follow with your guest’s name. IF you were invited with one, it will be clearly noted by how the invitation was addressed to you. The formal response line should look like this Mr. John Smith & Jane Doe OR Mr. John Smith (no guest). If you simply write “Mr. John Smith & Guest”, you’re likely to see that surface again on your reception card at the wedding. It’s best to identify your guest.
  • The golden rule to remember when RSVPing is to reply by the date requested on the invitation. It is a pain for anyone to have to chase you down to find out if you will be their guest…not to mention rude of you. It is considered courteous if you respond immediately after receiving the invitation.
Now let’s all practice this exercise. Go check your stack of mail. I am sure there is an invitation in there waiting for a proper response, s'il vous plait.

-The perennial bridesmaid

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