Translation: please respond
A client writes: There seems to be a lot of confusion about RSVP. I noticed this with two invitations I recently sent out. The first was to an intimate bridal shower at my home, and the second, to a costly destination wedding. I understand my experience was typical. Today, brides and mothers-of-the-bride must routinely call guests who ignore RSVP’s, even when a reply card is included with the wedding invitation.
Diane: You’re absolutely right – there is tremendous confusion about RSVP’s. Not just surrounding weddings but for all kinds of events. Clearly, destination weddings do require meticulous planning and arrangements, but for most invitations if guests haven’t responded in a time-sensitive manner, assume they aren’t attending. Of course, this can lead to mishaps – unexpected guests who just show up! Then, there’s the flip side – confirmed invitees who fail to appear.
Client: Many invited guests either ignored RSVP or assumed that not responding meant “something.”
Diane: My personal approach to event planning is to take people at their word. If 30 guests confirm they’re attending, I plan for 30, and no more. It’s been my experience that unexpected or surprise guests often equalize the no-shows. Sometimes, however, it’s a challenge to accommodate extra people. When this happens, I let everyone know we have surprise guests, organize what I can – and remain calm and carry-on!
Client: I’d like to think people have forgotten the meaning of RSVP. What can I do?
Diane: After the event contact the no-shows – who had confirmed their attendance – and the surprise guests – who didn’t RSVP and simply arrived, unexpectedly.
• Ensure they are well
• That nothing serious prevented them from notifying you that they wouldn’t attend
For surprise guests:
• Acknowledge you were pleased to see them
• Let them know they caused a last minute scramble – they definitely weren’t expected
Will you ruffle some feathers? Perhaps. Ultimately, both groups should be thankful for your graciousness. You inquired about no-shows’ wellbeing and you made every effort to accommodate surprise guests.
Curiously, the “text-generation” has not adopted the RSVP acronym. Perhaps they’d be more receptive to this revised version:
Restricted Seating Verify Participation.
Maybe you’ve had a close call, or close encounter of the wrong kind, at an event you hosted. Perhaps you’ve headed no-shows off at the pass with a massive telephone campaign. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and reply cards actually worked. Please let us know your thoughts.
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