If you’re throwing a party, a wedding, or even an office retreat, chances are you need to know who’s coming. The best way to do this is by using an RSVP, shorthand for Répondez S’il Vous Plaît. This means “Please Respond”. Go figure.
RSVPs can be super formal, a card matching the invitations that you fill out with your name, your guest’s name, whether or not you’ll be attending, and your meal choices. These often include their own pre-addressed stamped envelope as well for ease of return. They can also be casual, with just a name or an email address on the invitation for you to reply to. They can even be verbal:“Hey Sharon, we are throwing a dinner party on Saturday, would you and Matt like to come?”
These are all examples of RSVPS, but we are going to address the issue of more formal, written RSVPS.
First of all, what is the correct format?
Well, there are several ways to go about organizing an RSVP, but for the most part, if you’ve included their names or a space for them to write in their own names, a place to either accept or decline, and a respond-by date, you are doing just fine. If you are having a seated, plated dinner with multiple meal options, you can also ask your guests to pick their meals and indicate any dietary restrictions. To avoid confusion later on, ask each guest to initial by their meal choice so you know who wants what.
Here is an example of a simple RSVP that includes all of the necessary information:
Now how do you make life easier for you before you start getting your RSVPs back?
It should come as no surprise that humans can sometimes make mistakes on even the simplest of tasks, including forgetting to write their name on their RSVP card before sending it back. In order to avoid a lot of unnecessary phone calls to all of your guests, asking whose it was, take a pen with invisible ink, and write a number on the back of each card that corresponds to the household you are sending it to. That way, when you get a blank card back, you can take your light included with the invisible ink pen, and instantly know who it’s from.
Why do I need to include a pre-addressed and stamped envelope?
By making things as easy as possible for your guests, you make things easier for yourself as well. You will probably have to track down a few guests who forgot to RSVP after your respond-by date has passed but this way you can minimize the damage. You also avoid the risk of your guests filling out your address incorrectly! On top of all that, it’s also good etiquette.
Interestingly, it used to be considered tacky to include a pre-printed RSVP with your invitations. Guests expected to use their own stationary to fill out a note in a timely manner and it was considered poor etiquette not to trust them to do so. Fortunately for those of us who love beautiful, matching RSVP cards, this practice has been pretty much lost, or we wouldn’t be able to have invitation suites like these!