A Few RSVP Manners

I recently attended an event where the host complained to me about her frustration with the whole “RSVPing” of the event. Her conversation centered around the unwillingness of some folks to follow proper etiquette.

Our conversation got me to thinking, maybe folks really don’t know the “proper etiquette” of how to respond to an event invite. Perhaps they aren’t trying to be rude. Maybe no one has explained to them how to handle the situation.

Before I dive into sharing a few suggestions on ways to respond I think its important to define RSVP.

The term "RSVP" comes from the French expression répondez s'il vous plaît, meaning "please respond." If RSVP is written on an invitation, it means the host has requested that the guest respond to say if they plan to attend the party or not.

I also want to acknowledge it can be pretty hard to plan an event. Especially when you’re not quite sure how many people will be attending. But a special event should be fun for both the host and their guests. After all, it’s a celebration! Right?!

 Ok, let’s get into it...


This is the invitee that responses immediately upon receiving the invitation. They may have even corresponded with the host a few times about the event. They ask questions about the theme. They question the hostess is she/he needs help leading up to the event. The host just KNOWS they will be in attendance with bells on.

The day of the event and this person is nowhere to be found! No call. No text message...nothing.

Proper Etiquette

If you tell the host you are attending the event, please show up. Unless there’s some life-altering event or an emergency. Not attending after you’ve accepted the invitation because you simply, “don’t feel like it” is never acceptable.

If you do have an emergency that arises and can’t attend contact the host as soon as possible to let them know.


This category of folks includes those who don’t respond at all or responded no and still show up to the event. For whatever reason, they simply don’t indicate that they are attending. Maybe they got busy and didn’t respond. Or maybe they thought, “it’s just a backyard barbecue they won’t care if I just show up.” WRONG!

Proper Etiquette

Please don’t ever be this person. If you don’t confirm your attendance at an event in advance don’t just show up. Simply put it’s rude. An unannounced attendance causes undue stress for the host. If he/she is a gracious host they have to stop attending to the confirmed guests and now must scramble to make arrangements for guests that they hadn’t anticipated attending.

In addition, it also puts the hosts AND you in a very uncomfortable position if they have to turn you away.


This invitee does not acknowledge the invitation one way or the other. They receive the invitation and for whatever reason don’t feel the need to respond.

Proper Etiquette

Ignoring an invitation for whatever reason is never a great solution. No matter how you feel about the person or their event if someone thinks enough of you to invite you to a special occasion, common courtesy suggests you at the very minimum acknowledge the invitation.

It is worth mentioning, it’s okay if your RSVP answer is a no. Life happens, there are conflicts on your schedule that prevent you from attending every event that you’re invited to. Don’t feel obligated to give a long drawn out explanation. A simple, “I’m sorry I can’t make it. Sending warm wishes for a fantastic party/event!” is enough.

Extra Points

  • Please follow the instructions on the invitation. If the host indicates very clearly on an invitation “adult guest only” or “no children,” that’s what they mean. Honor their request. If childcare is a challenge for you, this is the time when you decline the invitation. 
  • Don’t bring an extra guest to an event that isn’t invited. Again, if you can’t leave the person at home or make other arrangements, if they weren’t invited don’t bring them along to the event.

Let’s admit it, we’ve all either been on the receiving end of or exhibited some of the above behavior upon receiving and an invitation to an event. The good news is now we know and when we know better, we do better.



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