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Why don't you RSVP? Honestly.

A good friend and I got into one of those whiny conversations about RSVPs lately - we both had parties coming up and were getting few RSVPs. Now I know lots of fellow hounds could tell there own horror stories about parties - weddings! - where they didn't get RSVPs and that's interesting - but not what I'm after.

What I want to know is this - why don't YOU reply to invitations. There must be - have to be - people reading Chowhound who don't respond to RSVPs, once, sometimes or always. Why not? This is basically anonymous so I hope you'll be completely honest. I'm just curious.

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  1. I can't think of anything I haven't RSVPd to. I can think of plenty of reasons I've not wanted to go to something I've been invited to, but I at least respond to tell them I'm not coming.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockandroller1

      I have never failed to RSVP, whether I was going or not.

    2. (my real name, so anonymity is out)

      I'll respond via card or email--always--but when neither are given and I have to call a person I don't know (or possibly met once), it's a little uncomfortable, as it would be something like

      "Hi! This is so and so (who?), the so and so of so and so, and I believe we met at such in such a place 4-5 years ago, but, by the way, I will not be able to attend (attend what? [I've honestly had that happen too]). I really want to, but there are 2 other similar events for the same reason on 2 other weekends, and I am not really in the position to drive 16 hours on my own or fly out for one night for all three events. It's great that you're doing this and I'm sure so and so appreciates it, but I'm really sorry that I can't make it."

      In the meantime, I'm imagining that the person I'm talking to can't place who I am aside from name (who? oh right, the one with the funny spelling, got it), and neither can I.

      Please leave an email or some other method of RSVPing, and you'll always hear from me. If you write "regrets only", it makes me even more self-conscious.

      I should call during odd hours when I know the person is likely to be busy (lunchtime during the week?), but that's my excuse, as lame as it may be.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Caralien

        I forgot to mention that there are 3 hosts for the party, and 1 number, so I don't even know who I am calling for my "regrets". I guess I could do some research with a reverse look-up on the number, but it's really strange not knowing who I am calling.

        1. re: Caralien

          here we put an * by the name the phone number goes with, but I agree that cards or emails are better.I am from the South so I don't even set the card down before I rsvp.Of course I dont use gifts until the thank you card is in the mail either.

          1. re: LaLa

            I just rechecked, and there is an * next to one of the names. I thought that simply meant the head host. Thank you for bringing that to my attention, as I truly had no idea.

            We did the same with our gifts from the wedding; they were boxed until after we returned from the honeymoon, then indexed on the excel sheet next to guests (so we knew who RSVP'd, what gifts they brought or sent, whether they attended, what we purchased with gift cards...). All handwritten notes were sent out by Thanksgiving (our wedding was in October), with subsequent thank you notes for anything that arrived after then. My hands were very tired in 2007 due to the "save the date" and 5 other sets of mailings to 200+ people, but it was worth it. At the time, I knew everyone's names and faces, and updated the photos on the website accordingly for future reference.

            I still hand write notes every year for the holidays (no pre-printed labels) and will be calling to send my regrets. The OP asked for why people don't RSVP, not why people do (of course it's the right and proper thing to do!). I'll call after 10 local time, as it's rude to call before then.

            1. re: LaLa

              BTW: I did call, and had a nice conversation. Sometimes we have to take the plunge and not worry so much!

            2. re: Caralien

              I don't know what the event was and certainly not knowing who you're calling would feel odd, but I think your approach may be too elaborate. Whoever you're calling doesn't need to know when they met you or why you're not going. What you need is this:

              Hi, this is Caralien Lastname. I'm RSVPing for the blah blah invitation. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it, but thank you so much for inviting me. Bye!

          2. OK, full disclosure. While I don't think i have ever failed completely to RSVP, I have been late before because I was still begging my totally un-social husband to take me. Mea culpa.

            BTW, loved Carolien's response ! I once had a conversation with a lady I had never met who declined my invitation to my in-law's anniversary party, and took great pleasure in telling me why - enumerating the many reasons why many people in my husband's family were a-holes. Fascinating. And odd...since many of the friendly, pleasant relatives didn't bother to respond, but came to the party. My belief in that case was that they assumed I just KNEW they wouldn't miss the party.

            11 Replies
            1. re: danna

              I do think sometimes people assume the RSVP doesn't apply to them - of course I'm coming! And for some reason a lot of people think RSVP is only for regrets - whether the invite says 'regrets only' or not.

              1. re: lupaglupa

                I agree. A lot of people think it's for regrets only.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  maybe it should be spelled out:
                  repondez, s'il vous plait (respond, please)

                  1. re: Caralien

                    I put a simple "Please Let Us Know If You Are Coming" on our last invitations (aprty's tomorrow). So far about half of the invitees have responded. And it isn't because they couldn't understand the message!

                    1. re: lupaglupa

                      God, I find ignoring this simple request SO irritating! I hosted a cake and coffee thing at my house last week, and only two people bothered to reply. I had to track all the others down, and one never responded at all. It's disheartening and makes what should be fun, hosting a party, start to feel like a burden.

                  2. re: rockandroller1

                    Good point.

                    I had a couple of invites this year that did not even say RSVP or any note along those lines.

                    Marked on calendar. Got host gift. Showed up.

                    On one, I got a second email (yes- both were email invitations I'm talking about) for a head count. OK. No prob. I said "of course" I would be there. If not, then I would have sent a note.

                    Now, I will be sure to respond on all emails like that even if not asked to RSVP. I was not trying to be rude. My thoughts are that I would be at any event asked to attend and not asked to RSVP, unless I had a conflict, in which case, I would send a note.

                    Some of us need specific directions I guess (-: or to read Chowhound and see that not everyone knows you will show up if you don't say you won't.

                    1. re: CyndiA

                      Lately all the invitations I get say "Regrets Only" and I feel guilty just showing up without advance warning. But I do and so far, it's worked out.

                      1. re: coll

                        I like specifics. RSVP by such and such date.

                        I guess the ones that don't mention it now, I'll just send an email or something and thank them and say I'm looking forward to the party.

                        Then again, maybe they don't want extra emails etc so put "regrets only."

                        So, it can be hard to know what is the best thing to do.

                        1. re: CyndiA

                          That's what I think, these are relatively big parties (50?)and maybe half family, so they don't need to spend a week on the phone or whatever. I can respect that.

                  3. re: lupaglupa

                    So maybe, instead of the traditional "RSVP," the invitation ought to read, "Phone, write, text or email me to let me know whether or not you will be attending this event."

                    Sheesh! There's one reason why people don't RSVP, and it's not because they don't know what RSVP means. It's because (in most cases) they're just plain inconsiderate. The few times I haven't received a response from an invited guest, I assumed they were NOT coming; it's not up to me to phone these folks. And one time, when I made such an assumption and a guest (and family) arrived at the event, I made it a point of telling her how surprised I was to see her, since I hadn't heard from her about the invitation. Oh, I was gracious enough ... told her how happy I was that they could attend; but I made my point, too.

                    I also wonder whether it's a "generational" thing. My kids seem to be far less hung up on RSVPs than I am. But i can't imagine NOT RSVPing to an invitation that calls for one.

                  4. re: danna

                    lol! :) great post.
                    people just freak me out sometimes. their audacity is immeasurable :)
                    happy eating :), Oana

                  5. Not responding to any invitation is rude and I am heartily sick of it. It is something that seems to have gotten worse and worse in the past 10 years or so. I've also gotten a response that was very vague like "I'll come if I can". I was reading something on this very subject in a new etiquette book book, it was a British import and the writer reveals a tale of an unexpected guest who had not bothered to RSVP. The butler met her at the door and the guest started apologizing as the butler politely turned her away saying that there was no room at the table for an unexpected guest and said " don't worry madam, it was our fault for inviting you". My thought was good for him. Maybe we all need a lesson from that butler.

                    Okay that is my rant on the subject.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Candy

                      I love it! "It was our fault for inviting you." Gotta tuck that one away for future use.

                    2. Good topic. I always respond one way or the other and I, like the OP sometimes make sure I make the phone call when I know they won't answer and I can leave a message. LOL.

                      There is a person in my group of friends who habitually does not RSVP to invitations and will just show up or , if she doesnt show up she will at a later date say no one told her about the party or she didn't get the Email. I've started to use EVITE, (love it) and you can see when the invitees have opened the invitation. So no more "I never got the Email" business.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dbinben

                        Can't answer the question, as I always promptly respond.
                        It irks me greatly when people don't.