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Responding to Invitations is Common Courtesy
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With graduations, weddings and other special occasions upon us I am guessing you have received a few invitations in your mailbox asking for your RSVP. The term RSVP comes from a French expression, meaning “please respond”. If RSVP is written on an invitation it means the invited guest must tell the host whether or not they plan to attend the party. It does not mean to respond only if you’re coming, and it does not mean respond only if you’re not coming (the expression “regrets only” is reserved for that instance). It means the host needs a definite head count for the planned event, and needs it by the date specified on the invitation.
I don’t know if it is a generational thing or if it has something to do with the popularity of social media, but it feels like the old fashioned RSVP response is often times ignored. Getting a stamp and going to the post office can seem an inconvenience. Etiquette-wise, it is OK to respond to a mailed invite via e-mail. But as a paper invite has no “reply” button, it is sometimes easy to forget to do so.
Remember that your hosts need to know who is coming so they can plan the food and drink, invite others if necessary, or even reschedule the event. When we are planning for Extension events with a meal included it really helps keep the costs down when participants let us know they are coming. If you are unsure about whether or not you will be able to attend you should share this with the host. Let them know you are happy to receive the invitation and you will let them know by a certain date of your plans. This way a host knows you got the invite, and why you haven’t replied yet.
Other etiquette questions and answers related to RSVP’s follow.  Question: I have been invited to a party but I do not know anyone there. Can I ask my host if I could bring someone? Answer: No, especially if your host is providing for the food and drink.  Question: May a single person bring a date/guest to a wedding? Answer: Only if invitation reads, “and guest”. If so, include your guest’s name in the rsvp. Question: My husband and I received an invitation to a wedding. However, my husband does not like weddings. Can I bring my sister instead? Answer: Absolutely not. If the wedding couple would like to invite your sister, she would have been extended the invitation. Question: If the invitation is addressed to Mr. and Mrs., can they bring their children? Answer: No. Unless their children’s names have been spelled out and in less formal invitations, “and children” will be added.
I hope these tips are helpful to you as you respond to the invitations in your mailbox. Encourage your young adult kids to develop good etiquette skills as well. And while we are on the subject of etiquette, an old fashioned hand written “thank-you note” for gifts received should be written in a timely manner following your special celebration.
Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or