To continue the theme of hosting and guest etiquette, I’m going to share a recent request from Karen @ Strictly Simple Style She wrote me and asked this:
Here is a situation that I’d love you to cover, etiquette regarding R.S.V.P’s. I am hosting a pre-party before another event that is a short distance from my home. This is an annual event and we’ve been hosting this party for years. I sent an evite because it’s a casual affair, but I’d still like to know how many I should count on for cocktails and snacks. There are a few guests who never R.S.V.P. among this group. In some situations they call the day of the event to let me know. One person occasionally doesn’t R.S.V.P but comes anyway.
My question: Is there a tactful way of wording the invitation that might result in a better response? Also, for those who don’t respond to invitations in general, is it appropriate to give them a call or mention at a later time that I wished I’d known if they were coming?
Thank you Karen for your question! This is an excellent question and it happens to hosts more often than not. It’s hard to imagine why a guest would not reply to an invitation, especially when the acronym for RSVP is actually a French phrase which means, “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” or “please reply.” It is only common sense to make the hosts’ life easier by letting them know either way as soon as one knows if they are going to be unavailable.
Here are a few things that you as the host can implement to gain more RSVP’s to your events so that you can better plan accordingly and have things run smoothly.
How to Gain the Best RSVP Response
Firstly, include both your telephone number and e-mail in the RSVP. Also, ensure that you have a specific reply by date (10 days before the event is acceptable, unless of course the evite was sent out after that time frame, then choose a date based on the nature of what is involved in your preparations.) This gives respondents no excuses at all for not replying. Unfortunately, saying anything that could be perceived as negative on an invitation is not a good idea because it sets a negative tone for the occasion, so focusing on an exact date is best.
While some use a ‘regrets only’ approach to an RSVP, I warn against this because it sets you up to expect several people to show that may in fact not have bothered to reply, but appear to you as a ‘yes’. Also, try to avoid allowing ‘maybe’ responses. They are an easy selection for the undecided but some never change their response. A ‘no’ is more accurate than a maybe reply. If you choose to allow maybe responses, you need to count them as a ‘no’ until they are updated.
1. Evite Response E-mail-When creating your evite, many companies that offer them, such as Evite, give you the ability to create a follow-up ‘reminder’ about your event. Firstly, you can set it up in such a way to be a general reminder for everyone a few days before so they don’t forget your event,. Better still, you can send a reminder which will solely go to those who have not taken the time to reply. On evite.com, you would go to ’Change Guest Reminders’ and then select ‘Viewed, but not responded’. It will go to the tardy invitees specifically and will be a good enough reminder to those that need to still give their yay or nay.
2. Follow-up Call– If a few of your guests still haven’t responded after a reminder e-mail and it is 10 days or less before your event, you have every right to follow-up and it is entirely appropriate. Let your would-be guests know you are calling so you can get an accurate head count. A great way of asking this is by saying, “We are having the place cards created (or the drink menu drafted) for the dinner this week and we are hoping that you are planning on attending.” This is a subtle, positive message that will elicit a direct response. If you happen to get their voicemail-ask them to reply within 24 hours by calling you or replying via the evite itself.
After the Event
Addressing one who doesn’t RSVP can be a tricky subject to broach. It would depend on how well you know the particular guest(s). For close friends, you could politely let them know that you always really enjoy their company but that it makes your planning go more smoothly when you have an accurate head count. If they don’t receive it well and are offended, then they are seriously lacking good manners and respect for you and your party. A friend would be apologetic and sure to not let it happen again.
For this particular event, it sounds as though you know most of the guests well. Because of this track record and the casual nature, always err on the side of having extra cocktails and snacks for your guests without making a special announcement on the invitation itself as there really isn’t a specific way to tactfully word your desire for them to reply, your RSVP instructions should be sufficient.
Karen, I hope this was helpful for you and best wishes for a successful pre-party event with a fully responsive guest list!
The concept of manners, etiquette and civility are not embraced by all, as we well know, so it is up to us that adhere to them to be a shining example to others.
How about YOU? Do you have some advice you’d like to add for Karen, perhaps on what specifically to say to those afterwards? Do you add something special to your invitation that seems to evoke a higher RSVP response rate? I’d love for you to share!