Attention everyone: RSVPs are not optional.

Society needs an etiquette lesson from Peggy Post. It appears that these days the idea of letting your host know you are (or are not) going to attend an event is something people think is “optional.” French fries with your hamburger are optional; cheese on your hamburger is optional; responding to a friend’s wedding is not.

So, what does RSVP really mean?

The term RSVP comes from the French phrase, “Respondez, s’il vous plait,” which means “Please respond.” RSVP means to respond to the host whether you can attend or not. It does not mean to respond only if you are coming, and it does not mean respond only if you are not coming (the expression “regrets only” is reserved for that instance). Not replying is not optional. Whether it’s a wedding, a holiday party or a backyard BBQ, if you’ve been invited you MUST reply, even more so if an RSVP card WITH postage is included with your invite.

I have been stalking my mailbox since early June.

Why do you ask?

Back in June I put my wedding invites in the mail. I thought because we are a tad older and because we went the old fashioned route of snail mail RSVPs our guests could manage to RSVP in the seven week timeframe we gave them. I mean I even gave them a cute heart stamp!

Well, I was wrong.

First of all, I had the bright idea of being cute and asking my guests to tell us a “song that will get them dancing.” For some guests this was mission impossible. For the past seven weeks of my life I have been getting texts telling me they would have responded but they can’t think of a song. Guys, it’s just a song; I was trying to be fun and creative. This was an RSVP fail on my part. Then we have the guest who responded but forgot to put his name on the card – see below. Sorry, my crystal ball is in the shop, we have no idea who mystery guest is, and if mystery guest is bringing a guest or two. I know! I should have numbered my RSVPs. Another RSVP fail on my part.

So, why do I care so much about these pesky little RSVPs? Well for starters, I ordered our cake this weekend and when the baker asked for a headcount I said, “Well, I’m not sure. We could have 120 guests, we could have 165, hey we could even have 200.” Clearly some of our friends hate us, and have a zillion other things they would rather be doing on a Sunday afternoon in the summer. I get it! I’ve been invited to events during the summer and have mumbled, “Are YOU serious?”

Look, I get it. Life is extremely hectic and my wedding is the last thing on your mind. These days everyone is juggling sports, dance practices, family obligations, doctor visits and work. But life is busy for all of us.

I even gave my guests a cute little response card with an addressed envelope AND a stamp. All they had to do was write their name, their guests name and if they are attending or not. The song was not required! And yet seven weeks into the invites going out and I’m still stalking my mail man like a kid in high school waiting for a college acceptance letter. Did I mention I have to walk down the street to check my mail and unlock a box? So thanks for making me get unnecessary exercise every single day, several times a day just in case I missed the mailman on my first trip.

Respondez, s’il vous plait so I can stop stalking my mailman. Please.

How else am I supposed to know how many place settings are needed, how many lamb chop lollypops are needed or how much confetti is needed for our grand exit as a new Mr. & Mrs.? Seriously, these are very important questions for a bride-to-be.

Even if your response is no, let the host know. If your phone rang and it was your Mom asking you to join her for dinner would you just sit there in silence assuming Mom knows you are declining her dinner invite? I’m guessing probably not.

Because I love my friends dearly and because I want to believe my friends still love me and life is just too chaotic for all of us, I made a list on how to RSVP:

  • RSVP ASAP so you don’t forget.
  • Printed invitations are expensive, don’t leave it in your pile of junk mail. Seriously, it’s going to get buried and you are going to forget to RSVP. Try putting the invite on your fridge so you don’t forget.
  • If the invitation is electronic mark it unread, so you don’t forget.
  • If you are unable to respond right away, set a reminder on your phone so you RSVP by the date requested.
  • Please for the love of all creatures, do not assume the happy couple knows you are attending. I have a difficult time remembering what I ate for breakfast, please don’t make me guess if you are attending or not.
  • If you know from the moment you receive the invite you will decline, do so immediately. Trust me the host will NOT be offended or angry.
  • And please, whatever you do, do NOT, I repeat do NOT just show up. I can assure you that no host is ever happy to see a bunch of non responders pop in at her wedding, or any party for that matter. Showing up unannounced to someone’s wedding because you were too busy to RSVP creates pure chaos for the host and the venue unless of course they are getting married at the Golden Corral buffet with unlimited food. But most venues do not have unlimited food and beverages for everyone, that’s why couples give their venue a headcount before the big day. A headcount you were not on because you did not respond, and now because you decided to show up the venue is scrambling so you can eat, drink and be merry. Seriously, just popping up at a wedding is a both a bride and a venue’s worst nightmare; unless you are Channing Tatum then you can show up unannounced!

Bottom line, don’t make the host chase you for your RSVP. It makes us feel desperate and we really just want to have enough cake for everyone!

Lisa Ingrassia

Lisa is the Director of Events at Zenith Marketing Group, an insurance brokerage firm located in Freehold, NJ. She is passionate about sharing her father’s journey with cancer and bringing attention the difficult path a caregiver must walk. She has written guest articles for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, The Mighty & Her View From Home. She is also a guest blogger for The Huffington Post. Fun fact: She’s obsessed with her Boston terrier Diesel and loves the color blue.