R.s.v.p. – means “Repondez s’il vous plait” in French (Respond if you please),

R.s.v.p. – means “Repondez s’il vous plait” in French (Respond if you please),

and is a throwback to the days when many aspects of formal entertaining were done in French.  While the French-ness of “R.s.v.p” (note the periods between each letter – that is the correct usage) may be outmoded, the concept is not.  There seems to be an epidemic today of people not responding to invitations.  This is rude!   How is your host supposed to know how much liquor to buy?  With this in mind, here is a quick breakdown of when to reply to an invitation:

Snail mail or email invitation that includes an R.s.v.p. for responses:

Call or email to say if you will be coming or not.  So simple – they just need an answer.  This is especially important if it’s an invitation for a seated dinner with placecards, because then, by not showing up, you insult not only your hostess but also the two people who were supposed to be seated next to you.

You should respond to every invitation you receive unless it says “Regrets Only”.   In this case, you respond only to say that you aren’t coming.  (If a party invitation says “Regrets Only”, that’s a signal it’s going to be a BIG party, and maybe a little crazy.   It’s up to you to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing.  It’s definitely not an exclusive thing.)

Email invitations from Paperless Post and other invitation websites:

Also easy – just click on the ACCEPT or REGRET box.

As for more casual, verbal invitations, the rule of thumb is that if someone gives you the date, time and location of a party, you should let them know if you can come.  It doesn’t matter if they scream this to you across a crowded bar or mention it at the water cooler at work.   And just remember, you may have a party yourself one day and want to know who is coming.   So be kind and Respond.If.You.Please.


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