Répondez S’il Vous Plaît

You might be looking at the title of this blog thinking what the heck is she trying to say? But for those of you who don’t know, that is the correct terminology for RSVP, something everyone sees quite frequently. Which brings me to today’s topic: how to overcome the generation of non-RSVPers. There are some simple tricks I have learned hosting my own parties, planning a wedding and working with local vendors:

For The Planner

1. Give yourself time.

Always give the guests of the party a date that is at least two weeks prior to your event. If you are hosting something at your house, this gives you time to make grocery lists, finalized budgets and ensure you have enough seating for everyone. If you’re hosting an event elsewhere, the venue most likely will need to know a final headcount two weeks to 10 days out from the event, so they can order in food and linens and schedule their staff accordingly. If it’s for a wedding, I suggest setting your RSVP deadline a month before your big day. I know that seems a little crazy, but my next point is why.

2. It is completely socially acceptable to follow-up with your guests if you don’t hear from them.

If your RSVP date has come and gone, by all means please call your guests and confirm whether or not they are attending. I guarantee you will have to do this with at least some of your guests since we live in the era of terrible RSVPers. I wouldn’t go so far as to text your guests about it because that can be a bit tacky for an event that you sent out a formal invite for. Unless that is it’s your good friend who has been implying she’s coming but never actually confirmed with you. By allowing that two to four week time period, it allows you time to call the guests and get answers from all of them before having to know your final numbers.

3. Inevitably, there will be a guest who says they were supposed to come who doesn’t show up or visa versa. 

First and foremost, don’t panic. There is a general rule of them that for every guest that doesn’t show up, there is someone who you didn’t expect or a surprise guest who someone brings with them that they “forgot to mention.”

4. Live by the 10 percent rule.

Everyone’s worst nightmare is running out of food. I always suggest to include an additional 10 percent of guests to your food quantifies to be prepared for the unexpected. However, take into consideration how much each guests will be consuming. If you have a full-blown lunch or dinner planned, plan on appetizers for about half your guests. People are going to pick at appetizers and not gorge themselves on them. Unless that is you planned an appetizer-only menu over a meal hour. If that’s the case, either specify on your invitation the type of food you will be serving or be prepared for people to eat the appetizers like they were eating a meal.

5. Make it clear who the invited guests are. 

If you are wanting to invite both parents and kids, address the envelope to the entire family. If you are wanting to just invite just adults, it’s kosher to insert a line on the invitation, such as “As much as we adore children, this will be an adult-only celebration.” And if you want to make it incredibly clear, order two RSVP cards. For all the guests who you want to bring their kids with them, insert a card that says:

“___ Adults Attending
___ Children Attending”

For those guests who you do not want to bring their kids, simply eliminate the second line on the other RSVP card and insert the correct cards in the correct envelopes.

For the Guest

1. Please RSVP.

Yes, this is a very simple request! Pick up the phone as soon as you get an invitation if you know your schedule and reply about being able to attend. If there is a chance you might make it and might not, don’t keep the host/hostess guessing. Call him or her and explain the situation and give a maybe.


Especially when you have to mail in an RSVP, it’s easy for that small card to get lost in the shuffle, or you play the game of did I return that card, or did I not? If you know whether or not you can attend the day you receive it in the mail, place it back in the mail that same day. After all, they put the postage on it. All you have to do is walk it to the mailbox.

3. Call if there’s a change in plans.

Even if it’s the day of the party and you have to pick up a sick child or a flight back in town got delayed, call the host. Even knowing a couple hours ahead of time can help calm nerves and maybe save on some food or beverage waste.


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