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RSVPs - "a whole other topic"

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laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 07:18 AM

In another post about "what to do if 30 people do/do not show up after not RSVPing", there's been a lot of discussion about RSVPs couched in the phrase "well this is a whole other issue, but..."

So - what do you think about RSVPs? Does it depend on the type of get together? (informal bbq for 60, dinner party for 8, cocktail party for 15, etc) Does it depend on the type of invitation? (phone, email, printed and mailed invite, etc) And... perhaps a hot button issue, does it depend on the age of the person - does 'this young generation' just not RSVP?

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  1. marthadumptruck RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 07:22 AM

    I don't think RSVPing has anything to do with age. Being rude can occur at any age level.

    If I am hosting an event, I like to know how many are coming. That way, I know how much to budget for, how much food to make. Most of the hosting I do is informal, but I still like a headcount.

    3 Replies
    1. re: marthadumptruck
      l
      laurendlewis RE: marthadumptruck Jul 20, 2007 07:24 AM

      I don't either, but some people think my generation is ruder than previous... no thank you notes, no hostess gifts, etc... I don't find this to be true.

      1. re: laurendlewis
        d
        dklipscomb RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 07:42 AM

        I agree with not an age thing. More an attitude thing with some. Certainly formal invitations deem a timely written rsvp. With most of my entertaining being very informal-I have no hesitation calling friends with a hey- can you make it? However do get irritated with one family member who is forever forgetting to call back even when I am arranging date around her-with the tee hee, I forgot I am just so busy..
        I just don't appreciate the attitude their lives are so busy and no one else is.
        Just think all should come with consideration. And I do make a point of sending written thank you notes. Little things mean so much to all.
        The ole -treat others like you would like to be treated..

      2. re: marthadumptruck
        maplesugar RE: marthadumptruck May 16, 2008 10:19 PM

        ditto. Most people who didn't RSVP to my sister's wedding were older than I am (mid-30's) and about a dozen of those showed up anyway.

        I do RSVP, I do make sure to bring something when invited for dinner, and send thank you flowers when someone has been kind enough to put us up for the night. Thank you notes for wedding gifts? Yes. Thank you notes for a birthday present from a girlfriend though? no... but a thank you by phone and I remember her on her birthday.

      3. danna RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 07:33 AM

        I was taught that one could request RSVP only if one was providing the equivilent of a full meal. That is, for a baby shower w/ snacks, a punch and cake wedding reception, or a cocktail party w/ only nibbles one should not request the RSVP (although regrets only was OK).

        As far as who will respond? Who knows? When I threw a sit down dinner 50th anniversary party for my in-laws, the RSVP rate was horrendous...maybe 30%. But when I threw my recent 50th anniversary party (heavy hors d'ouevres) for my parents, I got about 85%. My parents demographics were a little older ...mostly 60-75 year-old friends, where as my in-laws party consisted of more relatives in the 40-70 age group.

        I found that of the no-responders to the parent party, it was a toss up whether they came or not.

        Maybe this is related to the upsurge in "potluck" type parties. Maybe people are so far removed from the responsibility of providing food and drink for a large number of people that they totally don't grasp how frustrating it is not to know how much food to prepare.

        9 Replies
        1. re: danna
          Gio RE: danna Jul 20, 2007 07:50 AM

          The polite thing to do is: If you receive an invitation to Any event (no matter how much or how little food/beverage is being served) let the host or hostess know whether or not you're attending.

          1. re: Gio
            j
            jacquelyncoffey RE: Gio May 13, 2008 07:41 PM

            AMEN!

          2. re: danna
            e
            emilief RE: danna Jul 20, 2007 02:40 PM

            You imply that it is rude to request an rsvp to a cocktail party. I had a cocktail party in the spring which was catered and I needed to know how many as the cost was based on per person. If you are asked to rsvp you should do so. SEveral people did not rsvp and I sent them emails asking if they were coming. My rsvp invitation gave my phone # and email address. It only takes a minute to respond!

            1. re: emilief
              f
              foodstorm RE: emilief Jul 20, 2007 09:28 PM

              emilief and Gio, I completely agree with both of you. It is beyond rude to receive an invitation and not acknowledge it, even more so if there is a request for a response.

              1. re: emilief
                danna RE: emilief Jul 23, 2007 06:57 AM

                Since you had a caterer, I assume you provided enough food that you certainly were well within my perception of the kind of function that would necessitate an RSVP. (not that I'm any kind of arbiter, I'm just sharing what I was taught.)

                And I never said you weren't required to RSVP if asked to do so, no matter what was being served. Two wrongs don't make a right.

                1. re: danna
                  Karl S RE: danna Jul 23, 2007 07:35 AM

                  Except one is never wrong to ask for a reply, regardless of the type of event. So there is only one wrong - failing to RSVP.

                  1. re: Karl S
                    danna RE: Karl S Jul 23, 2007 10:17 AM

                    Karl, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one...

                    BUT, oh, the HORROR! I was just googling around to see if I could find a reference to the "rules" on RSVP vs. regrets...and it's unbelievable the questions people ask of etiquette experts and the remarks people make.

                    One poster somewhere I surfed stated that Regrets Only invitations were rude because they put a burden on the invitee...."if you hadn't invited me, I wouldn't have showed up at your house for no reason. Therefore, you need to assume that I'm not coming unless I tell you otherwise" Holy Crap, well there's your person who doesn't respond to RSVP.

                    Another website I surfed through had a person asking how best to indicate on the invitation how much each person had to pay to attend the party. (the expert responded that according to "the strictest etiquette", charging your guests was frowned upon)

              2. re: danna
                Karl S RE: danna Jul 20, 2007 02:48 PM

                "I was taught that one could request RSVP only if one was providing the equivilent of a full meal."

                One certainly can request an RSVP for the other things as well.

                One thing: I don't used RSVP because I learned too many people take it literally as a suggestion to respond only if they so please...instead I take the more English "Please respond by [date]".

                For things like open houses, and even some evening dinners (let's just say I learned the very hard way, people showing up for dinner 2 hours after the starting time...), I also put a closing time on the event in addition to starting time, because that increases turnout, believe it or not. It gives people a sense of the time-scope of the event.

                1. re: Karl S
                  f
                  foodstorm RE: Karl S Jul 20, 2007 09:36 PM

                  I am going to give your approach a try the next time I host an event. Hah! I am just going to spell it out: "I need to know if you are coming or not. Please let me know by....." Who knows, maybe it'll get through...

              3. GretchenS RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 09:26 AM

                I think people should RSVP to any invitation, period. Preferably as soon as possible after receiving it. As has been pointed out, the hosts have planning to do, even if it's just a popsicle party. Unfortunately I don't think most people actually do that.

                I have some friends who never ever RSVP and it makes me not want to invite them anymore because it makes planning so hard -- they have a roughly 50% show rate after not RSVP-ing.

                Another friend said she got so tired of people not RSVPing to invites to her (many) sons' birthday parties that she started putting "please call" instead of RSVP in case people didn't know what that meant!! (It didn't help.)

                I don't know the solution but as someone who likes to give parties I sure wish I did.

                4 Replies
                1. re: GretchenS
                  l
                  laurendlewis RE: GretchenS Jul 20, 2007 09:34 AM

                  I wonder if the people who don't RSVP are the same people who don't call a woman after getting her number.... the people who don't show at a restaurant reservation... the people who don't pick up something on hold at a store... etc.
                  Are they just not good responders in general??

                  1. re: laurendlewis
                    psb RE: laurendlewis Jul 21, 2007 01:07 AM

                    i think the people who dont RSVP are the people who dont organize stuff.
                    and in some cases freeriders.

                    this isnt just limited to full meal dinner parties ... but say you are organizing
                    a outing to a nice restaurant requiring reservations and the party to be
                    present to be seated, to people getting to events on time [movies, theater etc]
                    when others are holding their tickets etc.

                    i'm all in favor of punishing flakiness, freeriding etc.

                    btw, i thought san francisco was flake central. in a weird way, it's good to hear
                    it is a national phenomena.

                    also, i think here, perhaps more among 20-30 somethings, a big part of it is
                    "better offer shopping" rather than rudeness ... i'm not saying that isnt rude,
                    but one is the product of apathy, laziness, ignorance etc and the other is
                    calculated.

                    also, i think the fact tht younger people might be flakier is probably due to
                    different life circumstances rather than an "o tempora o mores" decline and
                    fall of civilization type reason. obviously if you need to plan a childcare etc
                    to leave the house, probably easier to make rsvps. if you live in an urban
                    environment and have a lot of casual aquaitances rather than doing things
                    mostly with family and close friends, i think you might do more "better offer
                    shopping", party hopping etc.

                    1. re: psb
                      ccbweb RE: psb Jul 21, 2007 05:28 AM

                      Unfortunately, psb (at least for the San Francisco area) I have to agree with you about the "flakiness" factor in that city. Having moved there from Virginia last year, my wife and I have both noticed and talked about the phenomenon.

                      In San Francisco, and elsewhere, I totally agree with your sense of "better offer shopping." I hear people phrasing their responses to invitations in ways that they seem to think gives them the most flexibility to beg off or come late or leave early or what have you. The amazing part is that most people that I've come across seem to accept it as a normal part of the process, especially for weekend nights. It drives me up a wall, personally. It seems that many are more focused on going to multiple events, rather than making a choice.

                      1. re: ccbweb
                        psb RE: ccbweb Jul 21, 2007 06:46 AM

                        Well I think it *has* in a sense become a "normal part of the process" ...
                        there's sort of a prisoner's dilemma aspect to it. Also, i think you can
                        kinda look anal if you buck the trend too much ... "I need to know
                        if you are coming by 3pm on Wed" ... unless you are buying tickets
                        or something.

                        i have old college friends and such where commitments mean something,
                        but I've had to increase my own flakiness factor to keep from going insane
                        when it comes to acquaitances [this usually takes the form of just not
                        responding to an party evite until pretty late ... although i do make it by
                        the rsvp deadline, if there is one, and of course i dont leave people hanging
                        if they are depending on me to bring something, to be timely etc].

                        The main consequence as far as I can tell is what you might call the
                        "critical mass dance" ... where you contact some core group people
                        to get commitments, and then you can make a judgement call whether
                        it will happen or not. Althought truth be told, there are some personal
                        agenda issues that make organization harder, e.g not sending out a
                        large broadcast because you might be ok with person X Y and Z being
                        at an event with 10 people, but you dont want to end up at dinner with
                        only X Y and Z, because you dont have much to say to them.

                        The other part of this is I can no longer remember how people used
                        to meet up at things before cell phones ...
                        --"stuck on the bridge, running 1hr late"
                        --"ok, we've finished dinner and going to see movie X"
                        --"ok, get us tix"
                        --"movie is sold out, getting cocktail at Y"
                        --"Z's car wont start, can you pick her up on the way to Y"

                        it is pretty spectacular that people continue to be late without
                        notifying you in this cell phone era.

                2. Katie Nell RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 09:58 AM

                  Definitely not an age thing, in my experience. I'm 27 and I *ALWAYS* RSVP, most of the time immediately after receiving the invite. (I also write thank you notes religiously.) I threw a baby shower for my best friend about a year ago and I specifically asked for RSVP's. 4 out of 15 RSVP-ed, and 3 out of the 4 were 26 and under. The grandma's (over 70) didn't RSVP. Drives me crazy, whatever the age!

                  We also had the whole family over a while back and while we didn't ask for RSVP's, we knew who was going to be there and who wasn't. Of course, my rather uncouth brother-in-law calls an hour before to say he's coming. And of course, I had made individual chicken pot pies, so brother-in-law proceeds to get himself a pot pie at Picadilly Cafeteria- really embarrassing for me!

                  1. pinstripeprincess RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 10:16 AM

                    it's not an age thing so much as what you're accustomed too.

                    i did notice that the whole "nice jewish girl" thing came up so i'm speaking from the sometimes-not-so-nice asian early 20's girl aspect. i think that when your parents raise you such that you see them making a lot of excess food or see them writing notes and encourage you to do the same, it becomes very ingrained. i'm a bit uncouth about it and tend to resort to emails more-so because i often just cannot find the time to bother with searching for thank you stationary and balk at the price of it. my mom spends the time to find cards and write the note. it's not only about the parents though, i extend the same curtesies that my friends to me often. so if they rsvp to me or write a note to me, i'm much more likely to do the same in return.

                    the one thing that neither of us would dare to do is NOT rsvp. it's awful and thankfully pretty much all my friends rsvp everytime. even if it's a quick email go-round in the morn about friday night dinner everyone is particular about responding if they will or will not go.

                    for formal dinner parties i'll set an rsvp date (sometimes even time) and will contact individuals if they expressed interest but no formal acceptance. a good number of the time i'll even get responses of regret for not being able to attend. it's been fantastic thus far.

                    one of my peeves is similar with others about family who make assumptions. i have an aunt who remarried but between her husband and herself they have their own child and two children each from previous marriages. you have NO idea if 3, 5 or 7 (and sometimes more because of boyfriends) are showing up for christmas dinner!

                    1. ccbweb RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 10:17 AM

                      If you're invited to something, respond to the invitation and tell the inviter whether you're coming or not. Period. If, for some reason, you don't do that then the absolute last thing you should do is simply show up at the function. Get in touch with the host to check whether its OK to show up.

                      I'm not sure what constitutes the "young generation"...I'm early 30s and the people I know universally respond to invitations, though there is definitely a high incidence of responding in the affirmative early on in the process and begging off later in the game.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ccbweb
                        psb RE: ccbweb Jul 21, 2007 07:10 AM

                        >If, for some reason, you don't do that then the absolute last thing you
                        >should do is simply show up at the function. Get in touch with the host
                        >to check whether its OK to show up.
                        >
                        as the host, unless you have some out like "i already bought the tickets"
                        or "i already made the rsvp for 8", would you actually be comfortable saying
                        "no, you cant come"? ... this thread did start of with more of the home invite
                        scenario, and it seems a bit escalatory to say "no, you cant come to the
                        cocktail party, i've counted out the shrimp already".

                        so to go into fantasyland for a moment, i think putting the host on the spot ---
                        "can i come too" --- is kinda leem. i think it would be better to say something
                        like "hey, i'm sorry i didnt get back to you but i wasnt in a position to commit
                        earlier. maybe we can meet up another time." when fishing for an invitation.
                        of course it's probably delusional to expect the flaky party all of a sudden
                        develops a great sense of decorum.

                        my inclination to try and accomodate the person would be much
                        greater if they had a good reason ["missed your email while i was
                        on travel" --> "i'll call the restaurant and see if they can take care
                        of it"] but if it is the usual case of better-offer-shopping, i might say
                        "well call the restaurant and see if they can add you and let me know".

                      2. j
                        jlawrence01 RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 10:31 AM

                        My wife has two basic policies. First, she always responds immediately to all invitations she receives. Second, she always sends a thank you note to ANYONE who does anything for her. If a vendor takes her out for coffee, a colleague helps on an assignment, etc., will generate a thank you note.

                        A funny thing happens after a while. She gets invited out a whole lot more than her coworkers who RSVP and then don't show or refuse to send thank you notes.

                        It is less a function of age as it is a function of how you were raised at home.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jlawrence01
                          l
                          laurendlewis RE: jlawrence01 Jul 20, 2007 11:16 AM

                          My mother-in-law does the excessive thank you note things too... I will thank a coworker sincerely and heartily, but I won't send a note for every little thing. I think it waters down the impact of a note that is for something substantial.

                          1. re: laurendlewis
                            j
                            jlawrence01 RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 02:25 PM

                            Seems to me that I would RATHER get a thank youn note on everything rather than the usual practice of NOT getting a thank you note for major gifts which is becoming more and more frequent.

                        2. t
                          tubman RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 11:16 AM

                          It's all about the simple courtesy of acknowledging the invitation. Unless my invitation was received at a time of personal tragedy I'm unaware of that has somehow rendered the invitee physically or emotionally unable to operate a phone or keyboard, that's the last invitation they'll ever get from me.

                          Lunch at Burger King, a kegger for 200, $150 a plate at my daughter's wedding, doesn't matter.

                          Some don't reply because they're just not sure if they can make it. Even a reply of "I'm not sure" acknowledges the invitation and helps me plan accordingly.

                          1. marmite RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 11:48 AM

                            When people don't RSVP to my invitations, it makes me crazy. I don't call and ask if they're coming- I assume they are not, and don't invite them again. If they couldn't take the time to respond via phone/ email/ fax/ telegram/ pony express, then I don't want to entertain them.

                            1. jfood RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 02:16 PM

                              first rule of physics - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

                              if someone invites you, you tell them if you are attending. whether there is an RSVP, please call, or nothing at all, not responding is not cool and unacceptable.

                              1. b
                                boltnut55 RE: laurendlewis Jul 20, 2007 02:29 PM

                                I think anytime you are invited and it says to RSVP, you MUST do so. If it doesn't say RSVP, like if the person tends to make a lot of food and don't mind (I mind), then I tend to do it anyway. If I can't go, I try to let them know immediately because they can invite others. This is especially true for those kids birthday parties where they limit you to a certain number, let's say 10. Do we invite 10? And wait? And how long before we invite more kids? I hate it when you end up with 4 kids and pay the same amount if only those "no's" would have told you sooner.

                                I rarely have people not RSVP and show up though. I assume they're not coming, and YES, if they do show up, I will say something like, "Hey, I didn't know you were coming. You didn't RSVP!" Although, I might add, "Glad you could make it." :-)

                                Don't know if it's a generation thing or not, but as a recruiter, I know I get so much less thank you notes than before!

                                1. d
                                  dalaimama RE: laurendlewis Jul 21, 2007 05:05 AM

                                  I am in the group that puts down "Please respond" because I think somewhere along the line, people have gotten confused about the meaning of RSVP and think it means "reply if declining" rather than "please respond". Every year for my child's birthday party only a few people bother to say anything and then, of course, everyone shows up. Fortunately, I expect this and plan for everyone to attend. It's easier on my nerves ;>

                                  The decision about whether or not to request an RSVP is properly left in the hands of the host. There is no instance in which it's impolite to request your guests to RSVP. Someone posted upthread that something like a baby shower does not require an RSVP because you aren't serving a full meal. This is completely beyond me because a baby shower is a fairly well-planned out event and the host will want to know how many people are coming so that they can make sure they have enough food and beverage for everyone. It's in a whole different league from, "Hey, we're gonna get together for the Superbowl so drop by if you feel like it."ude.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: dalaimama
                                    Katie Nell RE: dalaimama Jul 21, 2007 07:54 AM

                                    And in my case, I was providing a full meal and noted so in the invitation. I can't imagine why it would ever be rude to ask for an RSVP?!

                                    1. re: dalaimama
                                      q
                                      queencru RE: dalaimama Jul 22, 2007 10:47 AM

                                      I think RSVPs are necessary any time there is food involved. It seems normal to me to ask people to respond if you're going to have to figure out how much food and drink to purchase.

                                      I also loathe the people who insist on bringing their +1s with them to every event, whether invited or not. If the invite does not say "X is welcome to come," don't just assume he or she is. It puts the host in a very uncomfortable situation having to say no or deal with an unexpected guest. I am the type who always makes it clear on an invite who is invited.

                                      1. re: queencru
                                        l
                                        laurendlewis RE: queencru Jul 22, 2007 01:14 PM

                                        Do you mean +1 as in spouse/longtimer, or +1 as in date-of-the-week? Or a friend who is attached at the hip?
                                        At a more formal occasion they shouldn't bring them along, but at a bbq or something they might feel more comfortable in a mingling situation with a friendly face...
                                        (I have friends with awful boyfriends/etc and would love to disinvite the bf but can't!)

                                        1. re: laurendlewis
                                          q
                                          queencru RE: laurendlewis Jul 22, 2007 02:52 PM

                                          I'm thinking about any of the above (even kids) in both intimate and formal situations. If it's 3-4 close friends from college or an old workplace getting together, the +1 is going to be clueless when everyone is reminiscing about old times and won't enjoy him/herself. In formal situations, hosts usually put a lot of time and money into planning the event and an extra person can throw everything off. Obviously if it's a bigger, informal gathering then people are welcome to bring along whoever they like. There are some people that don't get that their 2-year-old or boyfriend is not welcome in every situation.

                                          1. re: queencru
                                            BostonZest RE: queencru Jul 22, 2007 03:43 PM

                                            If someone has kids, I open every invite with the words, "I hope you can line up a sitter for (day & time) because we would love to have you join us for (whatever the event)." That makes it perfectly clear that the little ones are not part of my plans.

                                            1. re: BostonZest
                                              s
                                              smartie RE: BostonZest Jul 23, 2007 06:45 PM

                                              and when my kids were little and I was doing their birthday parties I used to write on the invitations, drop off at 3, collect at 5pm. It was very obvious then that I was NOT inviting the mums and their new babies or younger or older siblings of my child's friends. The last thing I wanted was 20 5 year olds and another 20 mums and other hangers on.

                                            2. re: queencru
                                              l
                                              laurendlewis RE: queencru Jul 23, 2007 08:40 AM

                                              Agree with the 3-4 reminiscing situation - I have a friend who brings his wife EVERYWHERE even when his best friend wants to just hang out with his buddy.

                                            3. re: laurendlewis
                                              marmite RE: laurendlewis Jul 23, 2007 09:34 AM

                                              <<(I have friends with awful boyfriends/etc and would love to disinvite the bf but can't!)>>

                                              Of course you can, it's your house and your function. Why suffer fools?

                                              1. re: marmite
                                                l
                                                laurendlewis RE: marmite Jul 23, 2007 12:16 PM

                                                Because if I want to remain friends with the person, sometimes I have to save face and just deal with it.

                                                1. re: laurendlewis
                                                  q
                                                  queencru RE: laurendlewis Jul 23, 2007 02:32 PM

                                                  I think there comes a point where you have to put your foot down. You aren't comfortable, the awful boyfriend probably isn't comfortable, and chances are a lot of guests aren't comfortable either. Unfortunately, a lot of these people won't get more subtle hints. I had one friend who ended up rearranging an entire function because one woman would not get that her boyfriend really wasn't welcome. He had to invite more people so the boyfriend wouldn't be the odd man out.

                                        2. o
                                          odkaty RE: laurendlewis Jul 21, 2007 06:15 AM

                                          RSVPs (requested or not) are necessary in polite society. Whether it's a formal or informal invite some response is necessary. You can't just show up at the last moment, not having acknowledged the invite, and expect to be welcome.

                                          1. s
                                            Sherri RE: laurendlewis Jul 21, 2007 07:59 AM

                                            I honestly do not think this is an age thing. Rude people come in all ages, sizes, economic strata, geography, etc. My sainted mother used to excuse bad behavior by saying, "Honey, they just don't know any better".

                                            Recently, DH and I were away from home for more than six weeks. During that time our mail was held. I returned home to find several invitations with "Regrets Only" that were for events held during our absence. I called the hostesses to explain for our non-response. Most were understanding but one was glacial. I honestly do not know what I could have done differently on this.

                                            As a frequent hostess, I have had my share of no RSVP to parties -- the one for all the workers who built our house holds the record for the most non-responders. After a written invitation and follow-up phone calls, I had absolutely no idea if we were going to be 20 or 120 and it came down about in the middle. This made a tough call for purchases and the only time I can remember that I bought waaaaay too much alcohol.

                                            Some time ago, we had a casual guest here for an afternoon swim, a friend of a friend, and I invited her to stay for supper. Her answer, delivered absolutely straight-faced, "OK, if nothing better turns up"! There are some people put on this earth whose main job is to serve as bad examples to others and she holds my nomination.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Sherri
                                              trolley RE: Sherri Jul 21, 2007 08:09 AM

                                              you people are freaking me out. i'm having my wedding in two months and meal is costing an astronomical $110 per person! that's only beer and wine. I haven't decided to do hard alchohol yet. i'm scared now of those who'll promise to show and not. i hate to be tacky and let people know how much it'll cost me if they don't show but how could i communicate this?

                                              1. re: trolley
                                                Karl S RE: trolley Jul 21, 2007 08:29 AM

                                                The cost is *utterly* irrelevant to your guests as guests and should in *no* circumstance even be hinted at indirectly to them. Doing so violates a foundation of hospitality. You have to act as if it's not costing a farthing.

                                                Understand that the flip side of this is that:

                                                -guests who respond Yes without showing up and do not have a true medical emergency, death in the very immediate family, or subsequent invitation to the White House (the only social invitation that can trump anything in the USA, by long social custom, because one cannot easily decline it), and

                                                -guests who show up but did not accept the invitation

                                                have traduced a major social rule that justifiably puts them outside your society (that is, your social circle) unless you bring them back in by your choice and graciousness, neither of which are required of you. If they send/bring a gift and you accept it, you must thank them for it, but you needn't be gushy about it.

                                                Rudeness doesn't justify rudeness in reply/return; but rudeness can have other consequences, as I illustrate above. People who do not know how to behave in society (that doesn't mean high society, but in a social group) run the risk of being set outside it. Sometimes, that's the best way for them to learn, especially if they've refused to learn any other way.

                                                1. re: Karl S
                                                  s
                                                  Sherri RE: Karl S Jul 21, 2007 08:50 AM

                                                  Bravo, Karl S. Your beautifully stated discourse should be required reading for "Choices and Consequences, Adulthood 101".

                                                  1. re: Sherri
                                                    trolley RE: Sherri Jul 21, 2007 11:40 AM

                                                    thanks for putting my panic into perspective. yes, by no means have i even hinted how much the actual invitations of one person will cost. i just know that there will be no shows as there was at my sisters wedding (by the way cost twice as much as mine) and i felt bad b.c she paid for those who said were coming and it was about $160 per person which included transportation. it can add up to quite a bit even if it's 4 people who don't show...i just don't get people who don't RSVP or do and not show. it's just so easy.

                                                    1. re: trolley
                                                      Karl S RE: trolley Jul 21, 2007 12:10 PM

                                                      Reframe it as an investment in learning who you don't want to waste time and money on in the future....

                                            2. p
                                              phoebek RE: laurendlewis Jul 22, 2007 05:26 PM

                                              Interestingly enough, I recently sent out an e-mail invitation to about 40 friends spanning a couple of generations - the younger ones (mostly in their late 20s-early 30s) were the ones who did reply.

                                              1. h
                                                HungryLetsEat RE: laurendlewis Jul 23, 2007 09:13 AM

                                                Plain and simple - if a RSVP or a response is requested, people need to comply. Anytime someone opens their home (buys and sends out the invites, spends their free time cleaning, buys food/drink, puts up decorations, etc.) and they ask you to RSVP - the response or lack thereof separates the wheat from the chaff.

                                                Well-mannered, decent people will understand the importance of complying with the host/hostesses' wishes. If parents aren't teaching their kids the importance of this common courtesy - shame on them! I consider this to be one more sign of the degradation of society. Social graces are waning....and we're all going to suffer because of it. Sadly, rudeness will be status quo....because it's all about 'me' and my needs.

                                                Case in point: Anyone who RSVPs at the last minute because they're waiting for a better offer.

                                                1. v
                                                  valerie RE: laurendlewis Jul 23, 2007 11:29 AM

                                                  As one of the people in the other post who stated "this is a whole other topic", there is no reason whatsoever for not reponding. It is plain rude and unacceptable.

                                                  When I got married 5 years ago, I could not believe that I actually had to call people to ask if they were going to come. There was a response card (with a stamp already on it) enclosed with the invitation and it stated "Kindly repond". People still blew it off.

                                                  And then there were the people (a few of my husband's single friends) who were not invited with dates for specific reasons and they sent back the response cards stating that they would be bringing dates. Of course we wouldn't say no. I was only afraid that people would show up to my formal, black tie, Saturday night, NYC wedding with their children who were not invited! (it didn't happen.)

                                                  And then there were the people who said that they were coming, did not show up, and never bothered to call. My husband's (former) business partner being one of them. Or the people who called a few days in advance and asked if they could bring a date, when they originally replied saying that they would not be bringing a date. I could go on and on.... And many of my friends who got married over the next few years encountered the same types of things, many with their own family members.

                                                  But unfortunately it is not limited to formal occasions. I have had to track people down to find out if they were attending my daughter's 1st and 2nd birthday parties. These were both held at restaurants, since until recently we lived in an apartment in NYC and couldn't host many people in our place. So while these were not formal parties, I still had to give the restaurants a head count.

                                                  I was brought up to always respond to an invitation (unless it specifically says "regrets only", which I happen to hate because of the ambiguity factor for most people). I also write hand-written thank you notes on real stationery.

                                                  It is not a matter of generation or age. It is a matter of manners.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: valerie
                                                    s
                                                    smartie RE: valerie Jul 23, 2007 06:48 PM

                                                    had that sort of situation at my wedding, the week before I was tracking people down asking if they were coming. Some (all of them on my husband's side who I didn't know) still said they didnt know if they were coming 5 days before. It was a very formal affair and we had to give the caterers a head count and plan the tables. I told one couple who couldn't make up their mind that it was now too late and that I assumed they were not coming. My MIL told me I was rude!! Then we also had those who said they were coming who didnt show.

                                                  2. Withnail42 RE: laurendlewis Jul 23, 2007 03:17 PM

                                                    Ultimately I feel that regardless of the event if someone requests an RSVP the proper thing to do is to do so.

                                                    1. k
                                                      kyle81chang RE: laurendlewis May 12, 2008 03:31 PM

                                                      On a related note, is it rude for my guests to ask who is attending my party before RSVP'ing? I personally find it to be very annoying, but wasn't sure if I had the right to be upset. Here's how it'll go:

                                                      Me: "Hey, would you like to come to my dinner party?"
                                                      Joe: "Yeah? Sounds cool. Who's gonna be there?"
                                                      Me: "Uh, John, Mary and Bob."
                                                      Joe: "Oh. No, I'll pass. Thanks."

                                                      Don't know why, but that's annoying to me. It's like they're gauging if there's going to be anyone "cool" going before committing. I find that to be rude. I think people should accept or decline first, and then they would have the right to ask who's attending. Just a thought.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: kyle81chang
                                                        Karl S RE: kyle81chang May 12, 2008 05:27 PM

                                                        It's a question forbidden to guests and a host should deflect it by saying "Well, I am dearly hoping you are going to be here and that is the only question of attendance I can speak of with you." Your instincts are correct.

                                                      2. ericalloyd RE: laurendlewis May 13, 2008 04:37 AM

                                                        just before my wedding a few years ago my "live and let live, don't sweat the small stuff" dad was adamant that if a certain adult cousin and his girlfriend [who had not bothered to rsvp] showed up they would be asked to leave. ironically, a few years later these same clods invited us to their wedding!

                                                        how about jane & john doe who are invited to an event who think it's acceptable to tote their uninvited children along? but for extraordinary circumstances this behavior is beyond rude.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ericalloyd
                                                          d
                                                          dolores RE: ericalloyd May 13, 2008 04:41 AM

                                                          Quite true on it not being an age thing.

                                                          Rudeness and lack of manners may be more rampant now, but it certainly knows no age limit.

                                                          No idea on the question. If I get no response, I call. And call again. IF the person (30 people not showing, what a nightmare!) or persons don't show after all of that, well I guess I'll have a lot of leftovers. Oh, and if they are not family, bless family's little heart, I'll never invite them again.

                                                          >>who think it's acceptable to tote their uninvited children along?

                                                          If they're not family, they wouldn't get invited back either.

                                                        2. ktmoomau RE: laurendlewis May 13, 2008 12:05 PM

                                                          I am 24 and have been taught as a child if you are invited to an event you respond in an appropriately formal manner as the invitation as soon as you can to accept or decline the invitation and once you have done that it is done and unless there is a dire emergency you are held to your word and if you have a dire emergency you call your gracious host as soon as you can to let them know. If you don't know whether you can attend a function at the time you should RSVP then you will just have to politely decline.

                                                          I don't think it has anything to do with age and everything to do with how you were raised and how thoughtful of other people or just conscious in general of the work being put into the event.

                                                          I do so many events that I end up having to call people and then some who knows, but generally if I call and they so they don't know I will set a deadline, well I need to know by this date or we will regret not to have you for formal things that need a pretty close count, if it is a less formal event, I just always end up with too much food. It is really rude.

                                                          I also am big into Thank You Notes. I don't get mad when other people don't send them, but I require myself to send them because to me it is the right thing to do. I also normally bring hostess gifts depending on the occasion and circumstances. That is just how I was raised though.

                                                          The RSVP to me is essential for anyone though...

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: ktmoomau
                                                            roxlet RE: ktmoomau May 15, 2008 01:33 PM

                                                            We have a huge barbecue for 120 or so people every year. We make all the food, but we have to rent chairs and tables and hire help, so if 10 couples do not respond, that is two tables that remain empty that we have paid for. It drives me crazy because I also put my email address on the invitations to make it very simple to decline. Frequently I have to call the recalcitrant invitees to try to determine whether they will be joining us. My all time favorite response one year was when I called one woman whose response was, "Oh, we don't know what we're doing that day." My good manner prevented me from saying, "Well, you're not coming here!" Another pet peeve is when I send an invitation to a couple, the woman of which I know well, and I get an RSVP phone call from the husband's secretary. Drives me crazy, but I suppose that I should just be happy they called!

                                                            1. re: roxlet
                                                              Karl S RE: roxlet May 16, 2008 03:39 PM

                                                              Actually, your good manners could have permitted you to say: "Well, since you are not sure of your plans, we must instead make plans for another time. (Pause) But, if you would still like to come, I must have a definite yes from you now; otherwise, let's plan on some other time."

                                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                                jfood RE: Karl S May 17, 2008 06:57 AM

                                                                Brilliant verbiage Karl.

                                                                1. re: Karl S
                                                                  roxlet RE: Karl S May 18, 2008 02:19 PM

                                                                  Wish I'd thought of that, but I was too busy removing my jaw from the floor!

                                                            2. s
                                                              smartie RE: laurendlewis May 17, 2008 07:04 AM

                                                              I was invited, 2 weeks ago, to a pharmaceutical dinner, planned for last night. The rep came by yesterday to make sure I was still coming (I was) and she told me there would be 8 other nurses showing up to listen to the lecture and have dinner - at a very nice restaurant.

                                                              I was the only one to show. I felt badly for the doctor who was giving the lecture and the 2 reps who had planned the evening. Still, I had a great evening and learned a lot but how rude of the others to be no shows.

                                                              1. p
                                                                pengcast RE: laurendlewis May 18, 2008 07:42 AM

                                                                Having worked in corporate communications and public affairs for 25 years, I can say with complete certainty that there is a generational divide on this matter. The younger the mean age of the invitation list, the fewer responses. In fact, there was a great article in one of the meeting planner mags about this a year or two ago.

                                                                The theory was that the younger generation did not do snail mail and so did not take the time to send back the reply card. But their non-response rate is equally as bad with e-vites.

                                                                But recently I have found another demographic group who are even worse -- academics. I now work on the campus of a big university and when we send out invites to formal things that do actually require in-advance head counts, we usually get a 30% response rate (of which 75% are negative). But we also usually get about a 35 - 55% turn-out, which of course makes planning a total crap shoot.

                                                                Just once, I would like to have only as many places set as those who responded or ffer lesser food to the non-responders. Clearly the reason this is such a problem is because there is no consequences to not responding.

                                                                I did attend a wedding where there were only place cards for those who had responded and the non-responders had to sit at the back or fill in the empty seats. Not surprisingly, those too rude not to respond were also rude enough to ask people to squish in another chair at already full tables so they could sit with friends.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: pengcast
                                                                  maplesugar RE: pengcast May 18, 2008 01:09 PM

                                                                  I think non-rsvpr's should be made to do a week as a caterer in the middle of wedding season. ;)

                                                                  1. re: pengcast
                                                                    sfumato RE: pengcast May 18, 2008 02:48 PM

                                                                    I don't find this to be true at all. I am an events planner for an academic institution, and I find that the younger crowd is usually far better about RSVPing than the older ones. The older ones usually just show up and expect that there will be a place for them. If they weren't consistent about it head counts would be a total crapshoot, so I guess I should be thankful for the consistency!

                                                                    However, I do agree on the academic issue- you'd think the people with PhDs would be really good about this, since they get so many invitations, but so many of them never respond either way to ANYTHING. The lack of common sense is mind boggling.

                                                                    1. re: sfumato
                                                                      maplesugar RE: sfumato May 19, 2008 08:20 AM

                                                                      An informal survey of the academics I'm acquainted with has led me to believe academic achevement has nothing whatsoever to do with (nor does it usually improve upon) one's social skills.

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