You have sent out Save the Dates and are eager to hear who can make it to your fabulous destination wedding. You even put an RSVP date on your Save the Dates so you could really gauge how many rooms you should be holding and what type of budget you are looking at for wedding extra’s based on the amount of people attending. You patiently wait. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and you start to panic as the RSVP date has now passed by and only a few guests have even replied. You even begin have nightmares about the day of your wedding and walking out to a beach full of empty chairs. Does anyone know what RSVP means anymore?
According to the dictionary — Respondez Sil’ Vous Plait—is French for PLEASE respond.
No one cares if you do not speak French. It is commonly known that RSVP effectively means, please let us know if you can attend. However, some might argue that many people truly do not know if it means, RESPOND if you can attend. Or Respond ONLY if you can’t attend. I think that is where the confusion is. It also doesn’t help if you put PLEASE RSVP, as you are essentially saying “please please respond”. But, I am not sure too many would understand the blunder of the double “please’s” if they can’t even figure out what RSVP truly is intended for. So, I have a suggestion.
Stop using the phrase, RSVP. Save yourself aggravation, and simply put, “Please phone or email no later than June 1st (your RSVP date) and let us know if you will be attending”. We can’t assume everyone not only understands the real meaning of RSVP, or has manners. Sometimes guests would rather not respond if they feel awkward that they can’t attend. Having effectively vented my frustration in society’s lack of common courtesy, I will try to calm you by suggesting you don’t get stressed if your guests haven’t responded. RSVP is not “demanding” an answer, it’s politely requesting an answer. Remember, is means, please respond. Not RESPOND now. Here is where I often follow up with guests that our destination wedding couples feel are attending (based on their initial conversations) and simply ask via an email or phone call, if they intended to attend. This takes the pressure off the guest if they are embarrassed about a financial hardship, or if they simply forgot. One time, I called a guest on behalf of a couple, and the guest said, “wow, I have been waiting for you to call”. I guess they felt RSVP meant, the travel agent would call them to get their reservation handled. Maybe rather than assuming people know the meaning of RSVP—one could put, “RSVP–Yes, please do look up the meaning and Respond, if it pleases you”. Do you think they would understand the sarcasm? At least one important lesson can be learned, and that is; once you plan your wedding and realize how many people don’t respond, you feel so outraged that it becomes your quest to RSVP immediately to every invite that comes your way!