By Shelley Hepler
"Mom, Megan and Lucy said they were coming to my party. So did Haley. Where are they?"
"Sorry, honey, we never did hear from Megan. I don't know where Lucy is. Her parents said she was coming. And, Haley's mom just called and said she's not going to make it. She got an invitation to go a movie."
Surprise! It isn't quite so much fun when half the guests are no-shows
It is frustrating when you make detailed plans, spend a considerable amount of money shopping, clean your home from top-to-bottom, and make final preparations for an event, only to have your invitation ignored. Equally frustrating are those no-show guests or the invitee who cancels at the last minute with a text message or email.
What has happened to the important obligation of RSVP? These little letters are not top secret. We all know what they mean. Or do we?
Do you snub an extended hand offered as a handshake? Do you ignore a smile when smiled at? Of course not, it's rude. So is ignoring an invitation. A prompt reply is a basic courtesy. You have been invited to a grand event or a homey gathering because someone requests the pleasure of your company.
From the French, RSVP means “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” or “please reply.” This little code has been around for a long time and it’s definitely telling you that your host wants to know if you are attending. Whether it is to a dinner gathering, child's birthday party, bridal shower, wedding or some other grand event, an invitation comes with some important obligations. Be polite, reply promptly within a day or two of receiving an invitation.
When you receive an invitation, pay attention to what is asked of you. Respond in the manner indicated on the invitation. The following rules for RSVP are from Emily Post, the etiquette master of all times. She says the proper ways to respond are:
It is important to stick with your decision once you have responded to an invitation. Emily Post says that changing a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ is only acceptable on account of illness or injury, a death in the family or an unavoidable professional or business conflict. Call your hosts immediately. Strong words from the Queen of Etiquette!
Emily flatly states that being a “no show” is unacceptable. She further directs that it is bad form to cancel because you have a “better” offer and it's a guarantee you will be excluded for any future guest lists.
It is equally inappropriate to bring along an uninvited guest. This is especially important when attending a formal event, such as a wedding. The invitation is extended to the people the host wants to invite—and no one else.
Be thoughtful when you receive an invitation. Respond in an appropriate and timely manner. And, stick to your commitment. It's the polite thing to do!