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Respectfully Yours: Party RSVP

Dear Jacquelyn,

I love hosting dinner parties. I always send out invites asking for RSVPs. What’s the proper way to handle it when I get no response? I don’t want to be pushy or rude, but it’s hard to plan seating and having enough food not knowing in advance who is coming.

Dear Reader,

It is extremely frustrating for a host and it makes party planning difficult when people do not let you know if they want to attend or not.

Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence: A guest procrastinates or simply forgets to reply. Responding to an RSVP is the first thing someone should do after receiving an invitation to any event.

RSVP is an acronym derived from the French phrase, “Répondez s’il vous plaît,” meaning “Please respond” to require confirmation of an invitation. In addition, the French acronym “SVP” is frequently used to represent “s’il vous plaît” (“please”).

Guests have an obligation to reply as soon as possible after an invitation is extended. In the unfortunate event a guest does not reply, your frustration is understandable. There are a couple things you can try to alleviate the stress of being left in the dark.

If you have not received a response from someone, it is perfectly polite to call and ask whether they plan to attend. Contacting people shows that it really matters to you if they come or not.

This may feel like it’s an awkward conversation, but if you use a friendly tone and gently remind your guest a few weeks out that the dinner party is getting close, you’ll have a better idea how to plan accordingly. Say something like, “I’m calling to make sure you received the invitation to the dinner party, as I haven’t heard from you. I hope you can attend.”

Sometimes, guests don’t understand what RSVP means. Some think it means they only have to respond if they are coming. A suggestion would be writing “Please reply” instead of “RSVP” on the invitations.

When someone hosts an event, it takes a fair amount of planning. It’s not alright to throw away social courtesy. Remember, RSVPs are a matter of respect. Treat them that way.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol. She is on the board of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2019 Jacquelyn Youst