I was at a small get together the other night. As we were chatting, the conversation wound around to guests not RSVPing to the party. The host, a good girlfriend of mine, was a bit miffed, and rightly so, that some of the invitees did not respond to her invitation. So, the debate ensued…is it okay to not RSVP? Well, I am fully in the you-must-respond-always camp and I’ll tell you why.
In no other time in history have people been so consumed and bombarded with information. Between spam, emails, facebook, tweets, news articles, work, family….well, we’re stretched pretty thin. It is easy for a few things to fall through the cracks, and unfortunately, courtesy has fallen a bit to the way-side. It’s difficult to juggle everything and often, if we don’t need or have to deal with something at the moment, we file it away for later and tend to forget it’s even there at all. I too have caught myself remembering, “right, I need to call that person”, or “oops, I keep forgetting to respond to that invite”. It happens, it’s life. But, when it comes to events and responding to invitations, you must always make sure that your response is top of mind.
If someone invites you to an event and requests that you let them know if you are coming, then you are required to let them know if you are coming. Mainly, this is so they can plan the appropriate seating, food and drink and also to have an idea of the total number of people that will be attending. It is common courtesy to RSVP and neglecting to do so, really is just plain rude. Imagine if no one responded to an event invitation; how would anyone guess how many to plan for? You would either have far too little (angry guests now) or far too much (guilty party thrower for having excess). Never, never, will someone get it bang on and plan perfectly for the right number of guests without the proper head count.
You must also be aware of the deadline to respond. If you can’t deal with an invitation right away, then mark on your calendar the date you must respond by. Set a personal deadline of responding no later than one week prior to your hosts deadline, to ensure that you stay on track. If you can respond right away, then do so, and then it’s done. But, don’t respond yes if you have no intention of going. Even a maybe sometimes has the impression that you’re still waiting for something better to come along and don’t want to fully commit. Be honest. Say yes when you fully intend to go, and no if you have no ability to be there. A response of maybe is totally legitimate if you need to coordinate other details like a baby-sitter or confirm with your spouse. As soon as you have those details sorted, make sure to switch your maybe to a yes (or no).
If the host gives you a few options to RSVP like calling or emailing, choose the method that you use most. If you are more comfortable with speaking to them personally, then give them a call. If you use email more often, then do that. I like to use email because then my response is in writing and I don’t have to worry about leaving a message and wondering if they got it or not etc. If there is a response card, as typical of a wedding, make sure to mail that card in much earlier than the deadline to account for snail mail.
Really, it just boils down to this: If you were having a party and wanted to make sure you knew how many people were coming, shouldn’t you give the same respect to others? It seems trivial sometimes to those who are the invited ones but to the person who is having the party or get together, it is really important so that they can give their guests the best possible experience they can.
As for my friend and the absentee invites….well, the non-responders who didn’t come missed a great party, and the non-responders who came…..well, they got enough heat from everyone there that they will never forget to respond again!