RSVP is a French acronym, “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which translates into English as “respond please”.
It is used on invitations in which the host requests that the invitee respond whether they will be attending or not.
Hosts are relating a constant problem that invited guests are not taking notice of the RSVP request. This makes it very difficult for a host to know how many people will be attending their event, and to what extent to cater for the people who will come.
Why is it a problem?
I can identify two reasons why invitees are ignoring the RSVP in their invitations.
1. They do not respect the need of the host to know.
People live such hectic lifestyles these days, that they often don’t know what they are doing tomorrow, let alone a couple of weeks into the future. The invitation is so often put to one side and left unattended until the day of the event arrives, and then they will decide whether they wish to attend or not.
2. They don’t know what RSVP means.
This french acronym is not something familiar to most people in our society today, who come from different nations, societies, and levels of society.
Some people think that it only means to respond if you ARE attending, therefore believing that since they have no intention to attend, that there is no obligation to respond. RSVP means to respond regardless of whether you are attending or not.
In my research, I have heard time and time again how this is a sign of the lack of respect and understanding of simple manners. It is lack of manners if you are aware of what RSVP means, and you choose to ignore it, but I believe that it is a form of arrogance to believe that everyone must know what RSVP means, for the simple reasons that you do.
RSVP is not an acronym that is in common usage. It is not something that people come up against in their everyday lives. Often, the very first time that people will become acquainted with this acronym is when they are invited to their first wedding.
The solution to this problem must involve taking the current situation existent within our society into consideration. With our society becoming increasingly multi-cultural and the minimal exposure to such terminology, I believe that we are becoming elitist if we believe that people MUST be aware of this term.
If it doesn’t work, change it. Many people in our society baulk at such change, especially those who consider themselves better than other people because of their knowledge. They believe since it is an inadequacy of other people, that they themselves should not be the ones required to change.
I believe that the solution is to have an approach that is more representative of our current society, rather than holding onto out-dated tradition. Can moving with the times also involve reframing our interpretation of etiquette? Wholeheartedly, I say ‘Yes’. If we are not to become elitists, we must speak in a way that is easily understood. Life is not a secret society.
In order to prove my belief that we should say RIP to the RSVP, I will present some alternatives which are widely understood by the majority of people in our society.
“Please call xxx-xxxx by x date”
“Are you attending?”
“Claim your place now”
“Please phone or email no later than June 1st and let us know if you will be attending.”
“Please complete the enclosed response card and mail it back by June 1st.”
I still acknowledge that the RSVP will continue to exist in the upper echelons of society. This is just another way that they will choose to differentiate themselves from the ‘lower class’, rather than a sign of the lack of manners and consideration on the behalf of the invitee.
Instead of complaining that your event was stressful due to not knowing the numbers of attendees, why don’t you let go of a lost language, and speak in a way that people can understand?
Do you still rely on the RSVP for expected attendance?
Share your experiences in the comments section below