Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Lost Art of RSVPing

My friend Heather posted this New York Times article, "It's My Party, And You Have To Answer," on Facebook a few days ago and it started a fascinating discussion about what I'm calling the "lost art of RSVPing" (otherwise known, in my mind, as the downfall of civilization).

I'm not really sure what's happened, but somewhere, in the last 10 years or so, it seems that people have stopped replying when invited to a party. I actually thought it was something that was just happening to me and took quite a bit of comfort in learning that it's happening all around. One of Heather's friends talked about having to add 15 seats at his wedding reception just a couple days before the wedding because people hadn't RSVP'd. WOW. If people aren't RSVPing to weddings, I suppose not getting RSVPs to a BBQ isn't such a big deal.

Thinking back to my own experiences, it seems to me that the decline in RSVPs has happened as we've all become more connected via texting, Twitter, Facebook, etc. To me, that seems counterintuitive. I would think that since we have so many ways to RSVP that it would be easier to do so. Gone are the days when the only acceptable RSVP is a handwritten response card, licking a stamp, and depending on the Postal Service to deliver it, except, of course, in the case of wedding invitations. Now, all we need to do is click "yes" or "no" to an Evite or send a text.

Do people not RSVP because they are waiting to see if something better comes along? Because they are too busy? Because they aren't interested in the event? Are they waiting to see who else RSVPs "yes" before committing to an event?

Please know, I'm not complaining or whining. This actually really fascinates me. I wonder if I'm behind the times on this. Maybe RSVPing is passé and no one cares.

And in the interest of full-disclosure, I know I've been guilty of not RSVPing the moment I received an invitation, although I do not think I've ever waited until the day of the party or had to be called to find out if I'm coming. I received an invitation a couple of weeks ago for gathering at a bar at the beginning of May. The night of the event, I already have a business conflict that night, have class early the next morning, and the bar hadn't been chosen yet. I delayed my RSVP because I wanted to see where the bar was before I said yes or no because if it is too far away, it won't work with the conflict I already have and being rested for class on Saturday morning is important. Ultimately though, I RSVP'd last week with a "maybe" and explained my situation. I hate RSVPing "maybe." But I RSVP'd because that's the polite thing to do.

What are your experiences? How do you handle RSVPs? Do you call people who don't RSVP or do you just assume they aren't coming? Do you cancel an event if you don't have the number of RSVPs you expect?


  1. Good manners are never out of style.

  2. I love this theme. I actually wrote a customer service training program once, Jessica, called RSVP: How to Respond to Your Customers! Anyway, where I grew up in Peoria Illinois we were taught to RSVP no or yes. And my two kids grudgingly most of the time have been asked to do the same. Of course now they do it on facebook, etc. but that;s fine. It seems like RSVP ing should be even easier today with social media, but it sounds like it's still lacking. Personally if people don't RSVP I don't call them to check. I have extra food, drink, and allow for the several who show up unannounced and the several who don't show...balances out.


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