RSVP Etiquette

RSVP etiquette serves a very important function to the individuals sending an invitation – it tells them for how many attendees to plan. RSVP come from the French, "Respondez s'il Vous Plait" or in English, please respond. This particular acronym appears mostly on formal invitations like those for christenings or weddings. This figure impacts the bottom line heavily for many items ranging from food to party favors.


From the perspective of the invitation's recipient, pause for a moment and read your invitation carefully. The host or hostess should provide a means of responding to the invitation. Most notes of this nature include the RSVP at the bottom left with an email or phone number. This includes semi-formal or casual dinner etiquette guidelines. However, with wedding etiquette there is often a separate card that you should mail back. No matter the form of communication, please do not delay. It is rude and leaves your hosts hanging. While the deadline for more casual affairs may be a few days before the event, caterers need a certain amount of notice for changing their figures.

By the way, if there is a phrase on your invitation that says, "regrets only" this means that you don't have to do anything if you plan to attend. Just show up! You only have to contact them if something happens that does not permit your attendance.

rsvp etiquette, dinner etiquette, wedding etiquette

RSVP wording etiquette:

The wording etiquette for invitations applies to nearly every event for which you might want an RSVP. The style of the event dictates the style of the wording. Casual wording might be something like:

R.S.V.P: Please respond by May 15th.
Accept ____ Decline ____

RSVP etiquette dictates that no matter how laid back the occasion, if you are saying no it is always considerate and good manners to include a short note of explanation or a more personalized regret. In a more formal invitation the Name line might be replaced with M____________, which is filled in by the guest with their title (Mr., Mrs., or Miss) and the last name. Accept or decline might likewise be more formalized with wording like, "accepts with pleasure" or "declines regretfully."

rsvp etiquette, dinner etiquette, wedding etiquette

It's very interesting that some etiquette experts say that response cards are tacky. I'm hard pressed to agree with that viewpoint. It’s a tidy and functional way of guiding an event successfully. Besides there is nothing in RSVP etiquette that says your response cards cannot be fun. If your party has a theme, tie the wording to that. For example, for a Halloween bash try something like:

Ghoulish Guest:
Frightfully sorry I can’t make it __________
Monstrously happy to accept

If you have given the guest the option of bringing someone with them, make sure you leave a conspicuous space for that information. Also, remember to pre-address the response cards so one doesn't get lost in the mail accidentally.

If host and guest both follow RSVP etiquette rules the whole event runs more smoothly. Caterers know how many people to expect and the hosts don’t go over budget. It is a simple yet sublime solution for celebration planning.

Related Topics

Here are additional topics related to RSVP etiquette, such as gift expectations and pages for gifts related to certain occasions.

  • Save the Date: When do you send out the Save the Date note? Find out here.

  • Gift Giving Etiquette: An overview of the gift giving process with links to various occasions.

  • Appropriate Gift Etiquette: Stuck on choosing the "right" gift? This page will help clarify how to go about your gift selection.

  • Thank You Note Etiquette: The steps to completing a proper thank you note.

  • Wedding Gift: Expectations of the weeding gift with some ideas for the gift.

  • Baptism Gift Etiquette: If you were invited to a baptism and are looking for a gift, here is an outline of what to look for as well as some examples of gifts.

  • Ms Practical Etqiuette: If you are looking for a personalized answer, send your question to Miss Practical Etiquette. You will have a response within 48 hours.

If you are planning an event, below you will find links to various occasions and a selection of related invitations:

  • Invitation Etiquette: A review of when the invitation should be sent with related invitations for a dinner party.

  • Wedding Invitations: The protocol for sending out the wedding invitation is discussed on this page, as well as a selection of wedding invitations at the bottom of he page.

  • Baptism Etiquette: Planning a baptism? Here is a selection of invitations to invite your guest for this solemn day as well as a "how to" on the related protocol.

  • Engagement Party Etiquette: Guidance on planning the engagement party and a selection of engagement party invitations at the bottom of the page.

  • Baby Shower Etiquette: Is a baby on the way to someone near and dear? Here is help in putting together the baby shower with a selection of baby shower invitations at the bottom of the page.

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