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What Ever Happened to the Art of the RSVP?

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Has social etiquette completely died?

woman putting card in mail box

Jennifer Ginsberg: Many otherwise courteous people become selfish and inconsiderate when presented with a request to RSVP to an event. It amazes me how even my closest friends are waiting until the absolute last minute to respond to my stepdaughter's bat mitzvah invitation -- in case something better comes along perhaps? People experience tremendous existential conflict and become blubbering wafflers and commitment-phobes when confronted with those ominous initials -- RSVP.

If I could hear the inner dialogue of one of these RSVP flunkies, I bet it would go something like this: Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? What is religion? Is there a God? What are they serving for lunch? Will I like it? What will I wear? Will I look fat? What is the meaning of this ceremony? And why the hell does the poor child get bounced up and down on a chair during the party?

Listen up, friends -- the reason I invited you to this event is because you are important to me and my family. We are not using this spiritual rite of passage as an excuse to have a lavish, obnoxious party that bastardizes the true meaning of the day. Rather, we have planned a ceremony and reception that we hope will be both moving and fun.

But please ... get off the fence and RSVP! Leaving a good friend hanging until the last second -- no matter how legitimate your reasoning may be -- is not cool. The bat mitzvah is two weeks away and it is time to make a choice, which I sincerely hope will be one of the smaller and more insignificant decisions you'll be presented with in your life. I would love if you could join us for this special time.

If you can't come, then I will do my best to not suffer a nervous breakdown and cut you out of my life forever.


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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 1, 2009, 6:48 AM

This has happened to me numerous times. My baby shower, my daughters first birthday, even “thank you” parties and other get togethers have met with few RSVPer’s. They I have had the occasional response. It is frustrating!

Barb October 1, 2009, 7:01 AM

It is SO rude to not RSVP.

dean October 1, 2009, 7:48 AM

I am sorry, but if you do not RSVP on time for my party, guess what? I am going to plan on you not showing up, therefore not buying enough food. Or worse case, not enough tickets.

Anonymous October 1, 2009, 10:01 AM

My daugther’s entire kindergarten class was invited to her birthday party in April. Excluding my daughter, there were 15 kids in the class. I had to call EIGHT SETS OF PARENTS - over half of them! - the week of the party to see if their kids were coming. Half of those I had to call were, half weren’t, and all of them said “I’m sorry, I just forgot, we’ve been so busy!” I’ll accept that for a few of them, but half the damn class’s parents are too slammed to make a phone call or send an e-mail yes or no? (I forgot too - a couple of the RSVP’s were given verbally by the kids to my daughter, and that’s the only response I got. Nice to entrust that information to a bunch of five-year-olds…good thing my daughter tells me everything!)

Just Sayin' October 1, 2009, 11:47 AM

I read an article (maybe Dear Abby?) that said, in order to get responses, leave out a detail that would be important (time or place) so they have to call and ask and then pin them down!
And if they don’t bother to call, they can’t just show up and say ‘here I am’!

Anonymous October 1, 2009, 12:44 PM

How about people that don’t write thank you notes after receivng a nice gift?

Shirley October 1, 2009, 7:05 PM

My cousin just made a comment about the same thing, and coined ESVP- email, s’il vous plait, because no one RSVP’s anymore, and more people are using email as their main form of communication.

Monica October 1, 2009, 11:23 PM

How about people who rsvp and don’t come. I had this little get together because my family was moving away to a whole ‘nother state. So we decided to throw a get together of some of our closets friends. I got a ‘yes we are coming’ from everyone, just about, on my guest list and then even invited a few more people who, well, I didn’t expect would make it at the last minute. Going by the fact that I invited a little over 50 people I bought a lot of food because since I got a yes from almost everyone I figured I needed it and I wanted to make sure everyone was well fed. Well, the majority of the people who said yes didn’t show. I was left with so much food it was ridiculous. Everyone figured that I miscalculated the amount of food but it was just that most of the people who said yes didn’t show. I was upset because I waisted money and because that was my real last chance to spend time with everyone before we moved. For a while my feeling were just hurt because I felt that people who I thought were my friends just didn’t care enough or value my friendship enough to bid us goodbye. Yet, when we left I get a how come no one had any going away for you guys, huh?

PlumbLucky October 2, 2009, 5:32 AM

Ugh. I hear you - anymore I’ve taken to “RSVP - Regrets Only by XX/XX/XX Please”. And even then, one aunt-in-law skips that date and calls the night before (so generally speaking - by the time that I’ve already shopped and prepped food/bev) and says “Oh, we aren’t coming, nor are any of our kids (that’s five more)”.

After three offenses, I no longer assume she and her brood are coming and do not plan for them.

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