By Guest Blogger Diane Olsen
The French phrase “respondez, s’il vous plait” means, quite simply, “respond, please” (or as the French say, “respond if you will”). Believe it or not I learned this at the tender age of 6. My mother was a stickler for etiquette and I was curious why all her party invitations said RSVP, with a date and a phone number. She explained to me the origin of the phrase and that it was customary to include it so that the hostess would know how many guests to expect at her event so she could plan accordingly (for her, that usually meant having enough wine!) More than that, she explained, it was just common courtesy to respond when someone asks, “Are you available to attend my party?”
Seems simple enough, right?
I have found that along with the lost art of letter writing, making eye contact and saying “please” and “thank you,” RSVP’ing just doesn’t happen much anymore. Why not? It’s pretty easy. Someone thinks enough of you to invite you somewhere, usually for an important life event, and you don’t think enough of her to say yes or no?
Children’s birthday parties seem to be the worst. I’ve heard from countless parents lamenting that they invited the class to their child’s birthday party but 48 hours before the event, still no RSVP. How does one plan for that? What if you’re having the party at a place where you’re paying per child? How much food? Cake? Any allergies? What about the dreaded goody bags? Okay, forget all that, what about your poor child who keeps asking, “Is Jon coming to my party? Is Allie? What about Lauren?” How do you explain why they haven’t responded? I’ve been known to call parents and politely “check” to be sure they received the invite. If you’re rude enough to ignore the request to respond, I’m brazen enough to call you out on it.
But it’s not just birthday parties. It’s almost everything. I’ve seen people neglect to respond to Bunco, Halloween parties, dinner parties, Girl’s Night Out, you name it. And no matter what the occasion, it always feels rude.
And while using Evite is meant to make our event planning easier, it exacerbates things because it tells you who actually viewed your invitation “3, 6, 12 days ago” and yet, no reply. Is it that hard to hit the reply button? Yes, No, there’s even a Maybe option! You don’t even have to totally commit. I understand you have to check your very busy schedule, coordinate with your very busy significant other, perhaps make arrangements for your overscheduled children. And, of course, update everyone on Facebook regarding all of these things. But for some reason, you never close the loop. Say, “Yes, I’d love to,” or “No, but thanks for asking.” Or simply, “No thank you, we can’t make it.”
When you fail to RSVP you fail to provide the hostess with the opportunity to plan ahead (and she’s clearly a planner if she’s asked you to RSVP, right?). If she’s like me, she’s stressing over party details, everything from food and drink to music and flow. She’s probably wondering why you haven’t decided. Are you waiting to see what else might be going on? Who else may be going? What exactly is it that prevents you from responding?
Is it just me, or have many of you experienced the same? We’d love to hear from you. All it takes is a simple “respondez, s’il vous plait” in the comment section below.
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