The Elusive RSVP

But Seriously, Will You Be There?

Planning any type of event, regardless of size, has one definite thing in common. Guests. Whether you are throwing a dinner party for your closest friends, a corporate party for two-hundred staff, or a community festival, knowing how many people to plan for is key. 

There are many ways we go about calculating this, and the less private the event, the more that guess-work comes into play. There is one very tried-and-true method to help. The RSVP.

As this phrase originated in the 19th century, by now most English speaking people have caught on to the meaning, regardless of the fact it is an abbreviation of the  French phrase "réspondez s’il vous plait." Quite literally, it means please respond. 

While planning an event recently, and chasing down some missing replies, we received, this email:

“Thank you for the email.  I had received the prior invites but expected that an RSVP was likely only required if I planned to attend.”

This reply ignited our desire to help educate people on the proper protocol, saving the organizers of events time chasing, and guests feeling unsure of what to do. Each invite you receive may be different, and below we are breaking down how to handle these. 


The most formal of requests, this phrasing can follow the traditional acronym above, or might be written out with any number of versions of this, such as “Your Reply Is Requested”. The request for your response will often come with a method to reply — reply card, email, phone number, website, etc — and a date your reply is expected. In this instance, the host is asking you to reply, whether or not you plan to attend. If you are not going to attend, the polite action is to inform your host, and not assume that the silence speaks for you. Lack of response will often lead the organizer to search out your reply, to confirm that you did indeed receive the invite. 


Regrets Only

On occasion you will receive an invite that states “Regrets Only”. This would typically be for an event that is smaller in scope, as the host assumes that most invited guests will attend. In this case you only need to reply if you are not attending. 





No Request 

Large open to the public events may not require a reply, as they are a “come one come all” type of gathering. In this case, you have no duty to reply, and it can be a day-of decision if you are even going!



OK. We are (maybe) IN! 

While we understand plans change, schedules are unknown, and life is busy, we do urge you to imagine yourself in the hosts shoes when you receive an invite. Read it over, review the details and reply. You have been selected to the list for a reason. Maybe you are a close friend, valued supplier, employee, colleague, or maybe you aren’t event sure why you made the list. You have received the invitation though, which means the host has chosen you, and has gone to the effort to ensure they have your contact details. Once you have let the host your know your intentions, sometimes life throws a wrench in the plans; or alternatively maybe your evening is free afterall. In either case, if your original response changes, please once again inform the event organizer, this will help with their planning and reflect positively on you. 


Manners Matter

In this Huffington Post article,  titled "The Lost Art of the RSVP” the author, Lisa Mirza Grotts, makes valid points about polite manners in today's busy society that we think is a great reminder for us all. 


Make Sure You’re Noticed!

When it comes to gathering RSVP’s as an event planner, one thing to be sure of is that your invitations stand out. Last year, on our event planning blog we talked about why co-founder Jenelle Gartner was an amazing resource. As much as we expect polite replies, we also need to put the work in to catch someone's eye. The invitation will set the tone of the event, announce the brand, and ignite a person’s interest!

After sending the invitations, follow up is part of the game. We have an established protocol of following up within two days of hardcopy invitations being delivered with a standard email making note of the delivery. For anyone who we have yet to hear from by the RSVP date, we send a polite personal reminder. Of course, tracking is imperative, as you want to ensure you are only chasing those who actually missed sending in their replies!

At Boutique Collective we specialize in making a statement for your brand. From a full service event plan to creative marketing solutions we enlist the best and brightest in the industry to ensure your goals are met. If you are struggling on making an impact with your event branding get in touch with us today to discuss ways we can help!