If I Have To Beg You To RSVP, I Shouldn’t Have Invited You In The First Place

by admin on August 17, 2010

Continuing with the RSVP theme…

I get really irritated when people don’t bother to RSVP to an event, or they say “maybe I’ll be there”. I decided to throw a dinner party over the long-weekend. It is to be a very casual affair, buffet-style. I have a guest list of thirteen people. So far, I have gotten a RSVP from three. The rest are “maybe”. No, that doesn’t work for me. Why? Because if I plan for you and you don’t show up, I’m left with a ton of food that I will either have to send home with the guests who do show up, or I’ll be eating it myself for days. If I don’t plan for you and you do show up, there isn’t going to be enough food for everyone. I set my RSVP date only six days before the event. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable amount of time for someone to plan ahead. I get that this is a “me” issue, but the “maybe” people just make me feel as if they’re saying “Well, something better might come up and I’ll want to do that instead, so I won’t 100% commit myself to your event.” I never tell people “maybe”. If I’m not sure, I simply say, “No, I am unable to make it.”

So what does etiquette say about this? Am I supposed to plan for the “maybe” people or not? Am I allowed to say “maybe” when people want an RSVP from me? I need your help, Miss Jeanne!   0726-10

Failure to properly RSVP has to be one of the top five ill-mannered behaviors that irks me regardless of whether it is a wedding or backyard BBQ I’m hosting.   I face the same dilemma the story submitter writes of. Who is coming? How much food do I prepare?  Here’s how I’ve dealt with it after years of experiencing the uncertainty of guests.

I am of the strong belief that if I have to call you to plead for an answer to my invitation, I made a mistake in inviting you.  I won’t beg people to please accept or decline my invitations.  When I host an event, I’ve invested not only money but time spent planning, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, table prep, food prep and to have someone thoughtlessly dismiss their obligation as a guest to RSVP in a timely manner hints to me that maybe they are not as invested into a relationship with me as I thought they were.   Obviously there are extenuating circumstances that we all encounter that can potentially distract us from RSVPing so my disdain is reserved for those who have a history of  a “can’t be bothered” attitude.

My husband and I consider the failure to RSVP at all  as well as “maybes” to be a declination.  If it’s within a week of the event and someone is still hemming and hawing about whether they are attending, my husband takes matters into his own hands and makes the decision for them.  Quite cheerfully, he says, “We’ll mark you as ‘Unable to attend’ and we look forward to another time when your schedule is more flexible to be able to join us.”     A friend of mine artfully does the same thing…”maybes” are a “no” to her and she simply doesn’t give them the opportunity to waffle on her.

If someone calls after the RSVP deadline to accept, my husband replies, “Oh, I’m so sorry, we needed to know who was attending or not by such and such date so as to properly prepare and when you did not RSVP by the due date, we marked you as ‘Will Not Attend’.  Those preparations are now underway and we cannot adjust at this late hour.  We look forward to your attendance at the next party though!”

I’ve had guests call me literally an hour prior to a party to tell me they are coming and they are bringing uninvited guests.  Hubby again runs interference on the phone and kindly but firmly tells them, “No, I afraid that is not possible.”  Some people get the hint and respond to invitations more promptly  but others seem to get offended, as if we had not catered to their expectations of how they think they should be treated as guests.  Sorry, after investing considerable time planning the event, I’m not about to invest more time holding your hand  through the RSVP process and facilitating your unkind lack of manners.

For smaller parties like a dinner party for 6 or 8, I don’t worry about food amounts.  I prepare for 8 and if 6 show up, I get leftovers the next day.

I host an annual Autumn party where I serve chili and accompaniments.  Some years the guest list has been 25 people, other years it has been 100.   My approach to that is to make large batches of chili in my 22-quart electric roaster (double that if it’s 100 guests) and if there are leftovers, I freeze the chili in gallon bags for my family’s future meals.  No big deal if the number of guests fluctuates.  Sometimes, depending on the type of event being hosted, you just have to learn to roll with the punches and do the best you can without having an entertainment anxiety attack.

Weddings may be a completely different animal, however.  My eldest daughter is getting married this October and the reception is being catered.  I need an accurate head count to prepare the proper number of seats and tables, how much food the caterer should plan to bring, etc.  Friends’ recent large weddings of 250-400 guests were yielding as high as 33% RSVP failure rate so we decided to host a small wedding of no more than 105 guests.   None of us wanted a situation where we might be tempted to beg our invited guests to please tell us if they were coming to the wedding.  The criteria we used to determine the guest list was as follows:  1) Who has invested in the bride and groom in the past?  2) Who will invest in them in the future?  3) Who will really, really want to be at the wedding?  Friends who, in the past, were lackadaisical about RSVPing were left off the guest list.   We are beginning to receive RSVPs in the mail, the first of ones sent promptly back within days of receipt of the wedding invitation.   And that tells me we invited the right people.

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

Mechtilde August 18, 2010 at 4:14 am

Sorry- that second part of the post looks a bit like rather a non-sequitur.

I should have said: Returning to the original question of people not bothering to RSVP, we have exactly the same problem with our children’s birthday parties- some people think that not replying is the same as RSVP in the negative. Apart from one family who always say they are not sure and then don’t come, but bring a present afterwards.

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Shannon August 18, 2010 at 7:53 am

I’m a frequent hostess, and I tend to be pretty relaxed about RSVPs. It honestly doesn’t matter if 12 or 25 say yes, I will always have exactly 19 people in my apartment. Always. It’s uncanny.

Usually a few people have last-minute things come up (babysitter, illness, etc) and a few more have friends in town they’d like to bring, etc. It evens out. If it’s a house party with snacks and wine, it’s pretty easy to accommodate a change in the guest list. And if my group gets bigger, usually the friends who are bringing guests ring me up and ask if they should bring any extra drinks, snacks, etc so we don’t run out of anything.

Now, if it’s a sit-down dinner, I am MUCH stricter! I have six chairs, and that is that. I usually invite people in person or over the phone, vs. an Evite, because it’s harder to wheedle or respond ‘maybe’ if you’re put on the spot. :)

I stop including people if they consistently no-show without explanation, or ditch me for a better offer. The second situation offends me deeply – if I’ve gone to a great deal of effort to plan, shop, clean, cook, and decorate, so I have have a lovely evening with you, then there is no ‘better offer.’ I had a close friend bail on dinner at the last minute to go on a date…you better BELIEVE he got an earful from me.

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Jillybean August 18, 2010 at 9:08 am

I agree with those who have said maybes are acceptable if they aren’t left hanging indefinitely. While you never need to offer a reason for declining an invitation, I feel an explanation should accompany a maybe along with the date you will “finalize” your RSVP. For example, “I’d love to join you, but I’m not sure I can get a sitter. Let me talk to our sitter and get back to you by Friday.” or “I’m scheduled to work that evening, but should be able to swap. I’ll confirm with my boss and let you know tomorrow.”

And, of course, they could just do that and not reply until they are sure, but if most of you are like me (or all the people I know) – sure you say RSVP by Sept 1st, but by Aug 25th you’re anxious for the replies to get the planning moving early. So, a maybe let’s you know intentions even if it’s not definite rather than having a bunch of no responses where you have no idea what they are thinking.

Of course, that only works if people follow through.

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Xtina August 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

I must be fairly lucky that *most* of the people I party with are on the same page with RSVPing, haha. Of course I’ve had my fair share of non-responders, no-shows, surprise-shower-uppers and the like, but the group I include most frequently is very good about responding to let me know if they’ll be there or not.

Mom always told me to plan for everyone to show up, so I always take that into consideration when planning for food and space and thus I’ve never had a problem of not having enough to accommodate any surprise guests, but I count leftovers as part of the cost of throwing a party, and adjust my guest list accordingly to what I can afford for everyone. True that it doesn’t make it any less annoying when a guest “wastes my money” by not showing up if they said they would, but I take that into consideration the next time I host an event. I don’t mind calling someone to confirm an RSVP if I have not heard from them on one or two occasions (and most get the idea if I have to call to obtain their answer that they need to do better next time), but if they are consistently unpredictible, I won’t invite them anymore.

However, as others have said, I also note that those people who have also hosted events before are the ones who are much more dependable about RSVPing. Like many things in life, once you have experienced it, you’re more sympathetic and sensitive to proper protocol.

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Xtina August 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

Oh–on the issue of “maybe”–that’s a cr*p kind of response to an invitation, and insulting to the host as well. “Maybe” is good enough a response if it is accompanyed by, “I don’t know my work schedule yet for that day but will let you know as soon as I find out” or something similar to that situation, but otherwise, all “maybe” says to the host is that the invitee doesn’t like them enough to invest a small chunk of time for them, and are actually hoping that something better will present itself before the time of the event. Geez, people–commit or commit NOT to commit. Don’t waffle. If you don’t want to go, then say you can’t go–don’t be insulting.

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Cady August 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

For informal events, I simply state “If you do not RSVP by X date, I will assume you are not coming.” It might be a little rude, but I really feel that if I can make the effort to extend an invitation, you can make an effort to decline or accept it within a reasonable timeframe. I actually know people who won’t commit to one event or another because they do want to wait and see if something better comes up, which I think is the height of rudeness. I’ve invited you to hang out with me and my friends because I (or even we all) enjoy your company. If hanging out with me isn’t interesting enough that you can RSVP yes without worrying you might get invited to something more exciting, stop pretending we have any sort of friendship and eff off.

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Shamed (non)guest August 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

I have a confession to make. I am a habitual non-RSVPer. I am terribly ashamed of it. I try, and I try, and I blow it every time. I know that it is unforgivably rude, and I hate it about myself. I am trying to improve my habits.

That being said, I will explain why I do what I do, and perhaps it will add to this conversation only to the point that people may understand why non-responders do not respond, and then tailor their invite lists accordingly. (Interestingly, this seems to be what the commenters have agreed upon, but everyone seems so ANGRY about having to cut the guests, rather than RELIEVED. Because chances are, in my opinion, your invitees are also relieved to have been cut.)

I must say that for formal events, I *always* RSVP. A wedding invitation will absolutely not go ignored in my house. And in nearly every case I can recall, we attended. We have never RSVP’ed yes and then not shown. That would be an appalling, unforgivable act.

I also want to defend myself in that I have an absurdly busy life. I am a mother of two young children, I am a full-time graduate student, and I work a regular job half-time. I know that this is no excuse, but it contributes to my malaise about replying to other events. And this is why I generally do not get up the nerve (or, frankly, care) to respond: the guests of honor are perfect strangers.

I am routinely invited to the various showers of the various girlfriends and wives of my husband’s second cousins who live a day’s drive away. I have never met the guest of honor. In most cases, I have never even heard of her. My husband has never heard of her. I have certainly never heard of the host, and I’m quite sure she has never heard of me. She obligatorily mailed invitations to everyone in the extended family’s address book, so I don’t blame her. But I am mildly offended that the guest of honor feels an appropriate way for us to meet is to have me invited to a gift-grab. I don’t feel brides- and mothers-to-be should allow every possible distant relative to be invited if they have never met them. So, I do not respond to these invitations. I know I should call and politely decline, as I cannot make the trip, but I just never get around to it. I get anxious about calling a stranger. I know it’s silly. I know that it’s no excuse. But I avoid it, or procrastinate, hanging it on the fridge, and within days it is buried in other various paperwork, and it is out of my mind. I WISH they would catch on–that I am not interested in their parties, and I am not going to attend. I WISH I would be permanently removed from their address books. I do not get Christmas cards from them. I have never had any other exchange from them. Why, oh why, would I want to drive 5 hours to “shower” them with gifts?

The second type of event to which I am routinely invited are children’s birthday parties. Children I do not know. It is a blanket invitation given to every child in my child’s room at daycare. These are parties for 2-, 3-, and 4-year old children. I don’t particularly care for 20-30 guest parties for toddlers, and I feel it is unwise. But that is none of my business, as an invited guest. But it is a source of guilt and angst that we will not be able to attend, or the invitation is lost and forgotten (I must bring home 8 pieces of announcements, newsletters, kids’ artwork, permission forms, and so on every.single.day.) And so, I do not reply. And I feel awful. I hope they assume I am not coming, because I ignored their invitation. But, again, I am wishing that parents would just get the hint: working families who use daycares generally cherish their weekend days and have family obligations. I do not host daycare birthday parties for my children, and I would prefer to not be invited to others’. Case in point:
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Quoted:
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I feel for this person, who genuinely wants to give her child a wonderful birthday party. But after this happened ONE time, and especially after it happened TWO times, why did she not get the hint? People are not terribly interested in strangers’ children’s birthday parties. I DO fault any parent who ignores other children’s parties but then invites all daycare classmates to their own child’s party, and then expects others to give a hoot.

Anyhow, there you have it. The confessions of a rude non-responder. I repeat that I do not condone my actions, and I am in no way proud. So please, save me the admonishments and any temptation to flame. I try, and I have good intentions every time I see an invitation, but I just can’t get myself together enough to act in a timely manner. And I don’t mind being cut from the list. Please! Cut me!

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Shamed (non)guest August 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

Oops, the quote I tried to include doesn’t appear to have stayed. I was quoting this commenter:
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Michelle Prieur August 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm
Thank you Miss Jeanne for the advice! For four years, I invited every child in my daughter’s daycare class to her birthday parties. Two years I heard nothing from any of them. One year, two RSVP’d and one showed. One year, one RSVP and no show. I never did it again.
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Apologies!

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BeachMum August 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

We had an open house this past weekend. We invited 200 people (including children). I was appalled by the RSVPs. Some people said they were coming, but arrived without their children. Quite a few people said they were coming and then didn’t show up. A few of those called that day, but most just didn’t come. About 10 families didn’t RSVP at all.

We were expecting about 110 people including children, and probably had about 85. Obviously, we had too much food.

I understand that an open house type of party is a bit loose, but I was shocked by people I had seen that day or the day prior who had said they were coming and then didn’t. I don’t understand.

In the end, I took a tray of food down to the beach, where there are many homeless people, and left it there with a sign saying “Free Food.” I hope they enjoyed it.

Some of these non-RSVPers won’t be invited again.

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NotCinderell August 18, 2010 at 11:43 am

To answer questions and comments:
1. Yes, I invite people over frequently. I do ask for RSVPs, and I’m the person who will call and ask for a definite yes or no because I need a headcount. I have been known to say to people who hem and haw and “maybe” me until the last minute, “Sorry, I can’t do maybe. I need to know yes or no.”

2. I have been known to forget about an invite and then find it in a pile of mail to realize that the RSVP date is a day or two past. It’s only happened to me a couple of times in my life. I always call and apologize, and usually it’s not too late to give a response and I haven’t been written off yet. I will still call if my answer is “no.” A lack of response is rude, and doesn’t indicate a proper “no” RSVP in my opinion.

3. I’m glad that everyone on this site has all their ducks in a row all the time under all circumstances. I’m not always able to do that. I’m sure that for this reason, we’ll never be friends.

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NotCinderell August 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

Also, let’s just hope that your guests actually receive their invitations. It would be a shame if a person was cut out of your social circle permanently and without explanation because an invite got lost in the mail.

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RP August 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm

@Miss Jeanne – You are awesome. I absolutely agree with your method.

@The Cat Whisperer – A brain fart for one missed RSVP means you are off the guest list for that party but it wouldn’t mean you never get invited to anything else. It’s making it a habit that’s the problem. If someone has a problem remembering these kinds of things there are a lot of ways to remind yourself. I find that reminders in a program with a calendar like Outlook work well as long as it’s a program you use regularly. Set the reminder to show up a few days before the deadline; you won’t even have to check the calendar. It’ll just come up when you check your mail.

Another method to use is to RSVP immediately. Check your schedule and send a reply as soon as you get the RSVP. If your schedule doesn’t vary a lot this method should work.

@mommaknowsbest – Again, it should not be up to the host to spend extra time, money, and energy to deal with and plan around the rudeness of others. Some people are capable of RSVPing and they are the ones who get invited to RSVP parties. If it’s the kind of event where headcount doesn’t matter then it’s fine to invite whomever and not worry about it. But it’s unreasonable to expect someone to plan a party catered to 30 if only 10 plan on showing up.

@green_pea – I would hope that your friends would know about your work situation and understand that it’s hard for you to RSVP when you don’t even know when you’ll be home and sometimes aren’t home in time to get them. If I had a close friend in your situation I’d make an exception for them when I wanted to invite them to a party.

But I don’t think most of the other commentors are referring to legit situations like this where your job really does prevent you from RSVPing to just about anything. (Side note, does your job not allow you to receive personal e-mails at your work e-mail address? That may be a solution for at least seeing the RSVPs if it’s allowed.)

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jenna August 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm

NotCinderell has a good point. A few years ago I was invited to a wedding of a good friend, held in England. I had been told an invitation was coming and when none came, I figured either they decided to elope and hadn’t yet told everyone or I got the timeline wrong and I’d get it soon.

When my friend’s mother (the friend was abroad) called to get my RSVP, she was as polite as could be though I wouldn’t fault her if she felt a twinge of “I shouldn’t have to call this person to get an RSVP!”

Turns out the invitation had been sent to my old address on the other side of town, because while abroad my friend wasn’t aware that I’d moved. I never received it.

How horrible would it have been to have severed our friendship over a lost invitation?

By the way, I do agree with Shamed (Non) Guest on one count: if you consistently send invitations and never get RSVPs from the same group, chances are good they didn’t really want to be invited in the first place. Either they’re just not that close to your kid (if it’s a kid’s party), they’re extended family and they aren’t interested in building ties, or they’re acquaintances not interested or too busy to invest in a deeper friendship.

I invited a bunch of relatives I’d never met to my wedding (long story, but basically it was easier to invite them than start WWIII) – it’ a thin line there – many extended families are more Old World, where people invite everyone they’ve ever met or are related to, and actually expect to be invited (and oftentimes attend). Mine ostensibly fell into this category. Others get such an invitation and think “Errr…who is this person? No thanks.” It’s hard to know which is which. Many of those relatives never did RSVP, and after follow-ups, we have found that none are coming save one, whom I actually know. Clearly my own family’s view of how weddings are done (ie INVITE EVERYONE) and how they actually go down are quite different.

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Bint August 19, 2010 at 6:31 am

“I also want to defend myself in that I have an absurdly busy life. I am a mother of two young children, I am a full-time graduate student, and I work a regular job half-time. I know that this is no excuse, but it contributes to my malaise about replying to other events.”

As you point out, none of this is any excuse, and so how can it be used to defend yourself? Two kids, a part-time job and a postgrad course just mean you’re about as busy as 75% of the rest of the population. I speak from experience.

And to have a ‘malaise’ when it comes to telling a host whether or not you will attend! Or to think that malaise should override basic social courtesy, when it would take you less time to RSVP than it did to explain your ‘absurdly busy life’ – what a hurtful and insulting attitude to have towards someone who has invited you to something. No wonder people stop inviting non-RSVPers.

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Shayna August 19, 2010 at 9:36 am

“I also want to defend myself in that I have an absurdly busy life. I am a mother of two young children, I am a full-time graduate student, and I work a regular job half-time. I know that this is no excuse, but it contributes to my malaise about replying to other events.”

I have a husband with a disability, whom I play chauffeur to for most of the time, I run a daycare complete with four children, three of them six and under, I teach piano and voice lessons for approximately 75 hours a month, plus spend about 20 hours a week at this point in the year scheduling said music students, and I spend about 10 hours per month performing nail enhancements for friends. Yet, I still managed to mail off a recent RSVP, with my apologies for not being able to attend, to my cousin’s wedding taking place about 5500 kms away, on time.

It is rude to ignore an RSVP. Responding “no” to the same person every time will also convey the message “I’m not interested in being invited to your parties and/or events”, but in a polite manner. And, if you have that mentality, then it takes you 2 seconds to put an “x” on “Sorry, I am unable to attend”, about 5 seconds to place it in the envelope, 2 seconds to lick it, and about 1 second to drop it into the next mailbox that you see. So far we’re at 10 seconds. That’s much less time than it took you to write about your busy life.

Ignoring RSVPs means the person questions whether you received it or not, leaving them wondering. Only those of us who have finally given up on you “get it”.

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lisastitch August 19, 2010 at 12:14 pm

@ Shamed(Non)Guest–”The second type of event to which I am routinely invited are children’s birthday parties. Children I do not know. It is a blanket invitation given to every child in my child’s room at daycare.”
You may not know this child, but presumably your child does. And while I don’t much like the parties to which every child in the class is invited, it can be a nice time for the children to play together outside of school. You might want to check with your child about his/her feelings about the birthday child before you automatically write off the invitation.
And if you don’t like making the phone calls, get some nice stationary, stamps and return address labels, and keep them together in one spot. When you get an invitation, sit down that day and write a quick note–”thanks so much for your kind invitation. Unfortunately, I will be unable to come”–and pop it in the mail.

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foofoo August 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm

This post has struck a bit of a chord with me. I do my best to rsvp to each invite. To a formal event it is done a.s.a.p.. To informal ones I have given out “maybes” and followed up a short time later with the definite yes or no. Most of my friends are as busy as I am and are, therefore, understanding. My husband’s friends, not so much. We have gotten repeated invites from the same couple for dinner at times during the week when I can not possibly make it due to work ( I have 3 jobs) and the fact I take public transit. Each of these invites has been rsvp’d with an explanation as to why and a suggestion as to an alternate date / time. Yet for over a year they kept coming, all the time. We have also had situations where we attend one event and while there realize the hosts have an alternate agenda to get something out of us… money, commitment to go to another event later that same evening or week, use of our car, etc.

I think in some cases the reason for the lack of a response should be delved into further. Are you constantly having parties? Requiring other commitments from your guests other than the pleasure of their company? Are you always inviting them at times when they have already told you their schedule will not permit them to attend? While my husband and I have always responded to the invites we have grown tired of feeling that our reasons are not considered or that we are being used and I could understand why someone would simply stop rsvp’ing entirely. However, I do find it unacceptable to say “maybe” in the hopes of a better invite coming along, or to not reply at all.

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Enna August 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Most people say “maybe” because they don’t want to say “no”. A geniune “maybe” will comfirm a “yes” or a “no” answer within a reasonable amount of time, either by a deadline dead for responses or well before not “oh I said maybe so I don’t need to say “no” until an hour before the event”. “Maybe as I can’t remember the date for ABC off the top of my head but will ring you as soon as I know” is fine.

A proper sit down dinner or a BBQ where the host is providing all the food it is important for individuals to respond by a set date or a reasonable amount of time before the event. THe only last minute cancelations that are geniune reasons are “babysitter let us down” “car won’t start” etc.

If it is more informal e.g snacks/drinks there is more room to accomdate large changes in plans and if there are unopened packets of snacks or drinks around normally they will keep for awhile. With “bring your own” bbq/meals it is easier so long as the host has a rough idea of numbers but then it is important that every one bring something. However this can lead to large amounts of food being left over.

RSVP – if I was invited to an event which required one I’d send it back with the relevant answer. I am a very punctuaral person who likes to plan things out and be on time. THose people who are too lazy to respond aren’t really worth inviting to formal sit down dinners. Hosts shouldn’t have to “beg” or “chase” people they’ve sent inviatations too although it might be an idea to REMIND those individuals incase they didn’t recieve the invite or don’t know how to RSVP – if it is an ignorance matter then reminding them to RSVP tactifully should resolve the issue. If it doesn’t – then they are too lazy to bother with slaving over a cooker for.

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Dear! August 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

This really ‘grinds my gears.” About a month ago I was planning a small “reunion” for my graduating class. It has only been 6 years but I’ve been trying to get the alumni association up and running. Out of a graduating class of 160, 30 RSVPing that they would show up, 6 people, including myself, actually came. It’s a good thing I used my intuition and had it at an upscale buffet that was very understanding that all of the persons didn’t show up and didn’t charge me for them. (Thank the restaurant, because I would have had an ettiquette hell moment and gone off on people if they had.). No one apologized, nor did they care if I had been charged or not. And, this was after 3 months of planning with the graduating class being “excited” about their events and making me change the date several times to accomodate others.

Sadly, a few days later one of our classmates died, and I was trying to get a wreath and something to put into a card for the family organized and these people made me actually reach out and beg them to do it. If you dont have it fine, but at least respectfully decline. I understand that completely. Again, 6 people contributed. I can deal with people not RSVPing but this disgusted me. I stepped down from any duties associated from the alum association.

The kicker is, these people still expect me to be an idiot and plan their future events and chace them to participate. Am I wrong for refusing?

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Bee August 23, 2010 at 1:37 am

My fiance and I recently moved in together. We invited 25 people to a housewarming party, for which we were catering ourselves. We gave a month’s notice to allow ourselves plenty of time to buy and prepare food. Nothing swanky, just a backyard BBQ. Of the 25 invited, two said they would be coming and three said they would not. I tell a lie. It was four. The fourth sent me a text message three hours before the party was due to start to tell me they would not be attending. Another dropped in on their way home from somewhere else. No-one else saw fit to respond either way, or gave us a “maybe”, or “I’ll let you know”. Most completely ignored the invitation, and I’m also of the constitution that if I go to the effort of sending you an invitation and you don’t respond, then I was mistaken in inviting you, and I won’t be chasing you up.

I guess in situations like this, you learn who your truly supportive friends are. The two friends who did come are the only ones to visit us purposely, not drop in on their way to or from somewhere else. It’s also made us rethink our wedding guest list!

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RP August 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I do not get Christmas cards from them. I have never had any other exchange from them. Why, oh why, would I want to drive 5 hours to “shower” them with gifts?

It may not be a good reason not to RSVP but I have to say that I understand being irritated at getting no other communication other than invites to parties that call for gifts.

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nkkingston August 26, 2010 at 4:24 am

My mother didn’t put an RSVP deadline on the invitations for her wedding. Apparantly this caused the vast majority of people to lose all common sense whatsoever, and we were still receiving RSVPs the day before the wedding. Not only that, we had people fail to RSVP altogether and turn up, people RSVP they were coming and not turn up, and even people RSVP they weren’t coming and they did turn up. It worked out in the end (we overcatered, but we’d have overcatered even if twice as many people turned uup as were invited) but it made a stressful day even more stressful.

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Sandra September 5, 2010 at 10:14 am

Earlier this year, an old high school friend called me and asked me to attend her wedding. She told me the exact date and I said yes, even though it was more than 9 months away, I’ll mark it in the calendar and make sure I’m free that day. A few weeks later, we went out for lunch together and she confirmed my attendance and asked for my current address to send the invitation which I thought was just a formality and that the invitation was just more to inform me of the venue. 3 months ago, this friend decided that she didn’t want to waste money on a postage stamp and asked to meet me in person to deliver my invitation. On this day again, she asked whether I was definitely coming. For the third time, I said yes.
The due date for the RSVP passed recently and a few days later, I got a phone call from this friend berating me for not RSVPing and it is putting a real strain on her wedding planning.
The thing is, I have, on 3 separate occasions, advised her of my intention to attend. As far as I’m concerned, I have RSVPed. There was nothing in the invitation that required me to respond in writing. If anything, I find it highly upsetting that she constantly needed me to confirm my attendance.

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Michelle P September 5, 2010 at 11:12 pm

@shamed(non)guest, I’m glad my words didn’t make it onto your post. Not to be hateful, but I don’t want my words on your ridiculous story. I’m just as busy as you are and still make time to RSVP for every invitation I receive. The reason I “didn’t get the hint” is that these same people would invite us for birthday parties, and would respond in person more than once that they were coming. Perhaps I should have stopped at the second time, but my daughter wanted her friends at her birthday, and I refuse to at least stop trying to get people like you to do the right thing!

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Michelle P September 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I do have to say, I agree with posters here with the legitimate complaint of the only communication they receive from people is an event where gifts are expected. However, it still takes only a moment to RSVP in the negative.

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Christi September 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm

We are 3 weeks away from getting married and we designed our RSVPs in such a way that it was quite fun and stress-free. First, the RSVPs only had one answer guests could choose – “YES”. The simple act of checking the one choice and mailing it in meant that they were coming. If we didn’t get an RSVP by the deadline, we would assume they were unable to attend (which was also stated on the RSVP).

Second, the invites did not give any details other than city and suggested hotels located near the event. The particulars would only be given to guests who RSVP’d by a certain date and they were all sent a personalized packet filled with travel tips, clues to the event location, etc, etc. It was like giving guests a strong incentive to RSVP and rewarding those that did.

Needless to say, we knew exactly how many folks were going to be attending 5 weeks prior to the event so that we could give vendors final headcounts and such. Not sure if this is a so-called “proper” way of doing things, and probably not fitting for hardcore traditionalists, but our guests seemed to get a kick out of it (quite a few said how they loved the excitement and mystery of the approach). Certainly avoided the whole wedding RSVP headache most folks experience.

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Samantha October 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Might I just say: there is one type of invitation that includes an RSVP but really doesn’t need one. That is the facebook invitation to a public (or semi-public) event sent by a friend who has also sent it to everyone on their friends list. This isn’t a case of “let me know so we can arrange a time to meet up” or a case of “let me know so I can arrange food/drinks/seats”. It’s really just a “I’m going, I hope you can too and facebook automatically demands RSVPs”.

That being said, I would advise any host to never use facebook events to plan a party. Too many people just ignore event invitations because all they get are the ones I mentioned above. Sometimes people don’t even know they get the invitations.

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Maggie March 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Thats true! But there are still people that ignore or not even border to RSVP! This to us is polite & convenience for our preparations and yet they still not bother to do so! Well, if they dont… We will only call or message them ONCE! Thats it!! If they did not reply our RSVP but shows up… Sorry..there is nothing we can do here. Seats are all being taken & food…All are for replied guests… :) fair enough though, rite?!

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Maggie March 22, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Bother*

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