Etiquette Corner: What Does R.S.V.P Mean Today?

What does R.S.V.P. mean and what does it mean today? R.S.V.P comes from a French term: répondez s'il vous plait.  Translated: Please respond.

It doesn’t mean only respond if you are coming or if you are not coming.  It means please respond and let the person know whether or not you are coming.

It is important to define the term because we have become rather lax in taking this request seriously.  Some may see an R.S.V.P. request and think it means respond when and if you feel like it rather than by the date requested. 

Protocol dictates that not only should you respond but that you should respond within three days of receiving the invitation.  If you wait to respond, you could be giving the impression that you are waiting for a better offer.  If nothing better comes up, you will attend.  A response date may be provided, but it represents the last date the host or hostess would like to hear from you. 

We make time for things that are important to us and we do it quickly.  Given that someone is planning, organizing, and undergoing the expense of entertaining and has included you on the guest list, the polite thing to do is to respond ASAP. 

Entertaining today is difficult.  It is hard to gage who is going to attend because they have told you they will and who is going to attend because they feel like showing up.  If you are fortunate enough to be invited to someone’s home or to an event and there is an R.S.V.P. request, be kind to the host or hostess and respond quickly.  It will help them plan appropriately and make them feel good about including you on the guest list. 

Colleen Harding


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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 1:41 PM, 03.04.2014