R.S.V.P. Do's & Don'ts | 7 Etiquettes to Always Follow

red invoice sign
How would you like to get a copy of an invoice from a host(ess)s for a party that you did not attend AFTER you R.S.V.P.? Yep, it happened.

R.S.V.P., "Repondez s'il vous plait (Please reply)," is a term use to invite guests to an event or wedding. Most social events requires you to respond with an enclosed card by a certain due date. Most people do and in a lot of cases, more than we can count, guests simply don't respond.

In the case of a kid's event, especially a 5 years old birthday party (like the story below), I don't see the logic behind it. Okay, I understand that you buy food, drinks, and favors according to the amount of kids you are expecting, but should you really be invoicing another parent for not bringing their kid(s). There could be a lot of reason for the no-show, maybe the kid got sick, parent got sick, family emergency or any other number of reasons. I am a strong believer of not needing to overspend on young kids birthday parties. They are happy with just cake, a bounce house, lots of sugary stuff, and friends. But that's just my opinion. 

5-Year-Old Receives Invoice After Missing Friend's Party
A UK family is crying party foul after their 5-year-old was billed for missing a schoolmate's birthday celebration. Now they are being threatened with legal action, should they refuse to pay.

Now, there are instances where I feel that sending a missed event invoice may be warranted, like in a wedding or big corporate event. According to theknot.com, the estimated percentage of your wedding reception costs will be between 48%-50%, which includes the food, drinks, cake, etc...So imagine sending out 200 R.S.V.P. cards, which by the way is also an expense in making sure you have the right count of guests, and all 200 guests R.S.V.P. to only have 100 show up. Your host(ess) plants the party by making sure there's enough food, drinks, alcohol, dessert, rented enough tables & chairs, decorations, and centerpiece & settings to cover all 200 guests only to have empty chairs, way too much leftovers, (liquor is never wasted), and extra place settings costs that could have been avoided. Another important factor is venue size. Your city was scouted for the best location that can accommodate your number of guests and not have to be worried about anyone been squeezed into a corner, where you could have opted for the medium size banquet hall with the lower price tag that you thought was too small. 

Are you following me so far?

So there I can almost understand you sending out a missed R.S.V.P. invoice but, then you would have to weigh dealing with angry family and friends or saving money that you use towards a new home or a marketing campaign. Most R.S.V.P. cards do allow plenty of time for guests to respond with a final headcount done at least 2 weeks prior to the event. I would think that's enough time to respond to your host(ess). 

The same concept with corporate events, extra printed materials and brochures are on hand to pass out to every attendee. Although the corporate invites may not have a R.S.V.P. card and they assume at least 50 extra attendees, it is still the courteous thing to do to let the event coordinator know whether you and maybe your company will be in attendance, especially in cases of a retreat or business dinners. Like a social event, companies have a fix budget to work with and may even be stricter with their attendees' list. I will touch more on corporate events later and how you can keep your budget in check.

Again, taking into account emergencies that may come up, it is EXPECTED that you will attend once you R.S.V.P. and your host(ess) will have no way of knowing if you will not show unless you let them know. There are some etiquette rules that you can follow to be courteous to your host(ess) and also express your gratitude for the invite.

Image source: http://www.geekchiclove.com/
R.S.V.P. Etiquette to Follow:
  1. Just because this is a social event that does not mean to not respond. A simple "will attend" or "will not attend" is the right thing to do. Your host(ess) thought enough of you to invite you so, return the courtesy and respond in time. Pay close attention to the due date of your R.S.V.P. card and your personal calendar to avoid any scheduling conflicts.
  2. Your friend, aunt, uncle, or cousin should NOT R.S.V.P. for you. How many times have you planned an event, and Marie called to R.S.V.P. and casually mentioned that "she thinks Annette will be there." The message could have easily have been "Annette will not be there." Either way your invitation was sent to Marie but to you.
  3. Reply in the manner that your host(ess) requested. For example if you're asked to mailed back a card, do so. Call, do so. Don't assume one for the other. You may think a simple telephone call will be good enough, but what you may not know is that your host(ess) was driving with 3 screaming kids in the backseat and she barely register the full conversation and forgot that you mark down that you will or will not attend,
  4. NEVER, EVER, bring another guest without asking your host(ess) first. The "Plus 1" rule is an important one to follow. If your cousin Johnny was not invited, well he was not accounted for when planning the menu and place setting. So if Johnny shows up, he either might be asked to leave, or will stand in a corner sharing a plate with you.
  5. If for some reason, you cannot make it at the last minute, CALL and/or leave a detail message letting your host(ess) know that you are unable to attend. It may not change what was already paid for, but it will show that you appreciate the invite and you are truly sorry that you cannot make it. In this day an age, there are so many ways to get in touch with someone, a telephone call is always the proper way to communicate, but I say send a text or even an email to make sure that your message was delivered.
  6. In case of a sit-down dinner, the R.V.S.P. card may include a menu selection box, choose wisely, because do not expect to change your "order" while dinner is been served. So if you chose the grilled chicken breast with sweet potatoes, don't ask for the blackened salmon over a bed of wild rice in exchange because it look delicious and smelled great.
  7. Host(ess) may send out a "R.S.V.P. Regrets ONLY" card, which simply means to return it if you CANNOT attend the event. So make sure you read your invitation and card correctly. And, if you are unsure about what to do, a simple telephone call will fix that. DON'T ASSUME.
I hope you take these guidelines, not only as a guest but also as a host(ess) to avoid any issues with the number of people you are expected to attend your event. A good rule of thumb to follow is to be prepared for the amount of guests that you have invited plus an additional 10. That way everyone will eat and drink without you worrying about giving out two shrimps on each plate.  It would be scary to run out of food and drinks simply because you miscalculated your guest count. I rather have a lot of leftovers that guests can take home, than doing a drinks run in the middle of your dinner.


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