Répondez s’il vous plait

standard August 23, 2015 Leave a response

It’s imagination time, dearest friends!

Say you decide to throw a party and invite 45 of your closest and bestest friends. You ask that they RSVP by Friday, so you’ll know how much pizza and booze you’ll need to buy. Ten friends tell you they are coming, and you don’t hear from the rest. Naturally, you only order enough food for 11 people, but imagine your surprise come party time when 25 people show up at your pad! Now you’re running around, trying to buy extra food (even though you didn’t budget for it), find places for people to sit, send someone on a booze run (and promise to pay them back next week), and so on.

A bit overwhelming, isn’t it?

It would have been a lot easier on you if those 14 extra guests told you, “hey, I’ll be at your rad party!”

Do people even say rad anymore?

I’m not perfect when it comes to etiquette; I don’t own any of the 18 editions of Emily Post’s Etiquette, I browse Miss Manners advice column infrequently, and I sometimes belch in public (usually on accident!). However, I am quite familiar with répondez s’il vous plait, or “Please reply.”

In layman’s terms, if someone sends you an invitation (via email, Facebook, Snapchat or USPS), you need to respond ASAP with a yes or a no.

Why does it matter anymore?

I’ve planned many gatherings, both personally and professionally – baby showers, corporate holiday parties, weddings, meetings, potlucks and so on, and one of my biggest problems is getting an accurate headcount. It might not seem it, but it takes time to personally contact each and every single person on an invitation list who has not responded.

What’s the big deal? It’s just a party.

Having an accurate headcount is essential to making sure we have enough food – too little, and everyone gets hangry, too many, and it goes to waste. Additionally, we need to plan how many chairs & tables we need, how many programs and/or favors to provide, and other things to make sure our guests comfy and happy.

OK, I get it, I should RSVP. When?

Within 24 hours of receiving the invitation! If not within 24 hours, then well before the “RSVP by” date!

How do I RSVP?

Check the invitation.

  • Printed invitation with RSVP card: fill out & mail back to host
  • Printed invitation with URL: go to website and fill out electronically
  • Facebook invitation: click Going, Maybe or Decline
  • Snapchat: send a Snapchat back with a big sign that says “YES!!!”
  • Text message: respond back and hit send.

If you’re unsure how they want you to respond, just pick up your phone and call them! Or text them. Or Vine them. Or carrier pigeon.

What if I can’t make it? If I don’t RSVP, will they just assume I’m not coming?

No. No. No. NO. If an invitation says RSVP, you must respond either way.

There are some exceptions to this rule, most notably if the invitation has “RSVP, regrets only,” but that means “hey, if you don’t respond back, we’re going to assume you’re coming, so bring your appetite and a Snuggie.”

What if I say I’ll come, then something comes up? What then?



The reason.

My cousin is hosting a really cool party.

Yeah, no.

Why not?

It’s not right to ditch a friend’s party for a (potentially) cooler party. You wouldn’t want someone to do that to you, would you?

What if I broke my leg?

Unless you’re dead, there’s no excuse. Just kidding, medical/family emergencies trump parties. A proper host will not take offense if you have to take your sister to the emergency room because she set the kitchen on fire. Again.

If your host DOES get upset that you had to go to the hospital, then you should find better friends.

What if my boss scheduled me to work that day?

After you already accepted? Totally acceptable – thou shall not interfere with someone’s livelihood.

What if I just don’t want to go?

Why did you accept in the first place, instead of sending your regrets?

What if I don’t know if I can make it?

Again, tell the host ASAP that you’re unsure if you can make it, and then let them know either way once you do know.

What if I said yes and don’t show up?

Don’t expect to be invited to another party.

What if I said no, but then my plans changed?

Contact the host as soon as possible!

What if I didn’t respond and just show up? They plan for that sort of thing, don’t they?

Nope! If you don’t answer, we’re going to assume you’re not coming.

Let’s put on our imagination hats again, boys & girls.

Same party as above: you invite 45 people, and 35 people RSVP that they will come. Party time arrives, you have 11 large pizzas, 18 bottles of soda and 70 bottles of beer waiting for your guests. Only five people show up. That’s a lot of pizza sitting around, uneaten and unhappy, and a very awkward party.

Moral of the story.

Let people know if you’re going to their rad party or not – it’ll make the pizza happy.

Pizza calculator & drink calculator

“Flipping through etiquette books published in the very early 1900s, we discover numerous declarations that writing RSVP on an invitation was going out of fashion. The thinking was, it had begun to dawn on everyone that all good people knew to respond promptly to an invitation and that it was rudely superfluous to bring up the subject—“a faint reproach upon their breeding.”” Does RSVP Still Mean Please Reply? – Slate Magazine


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