It is always amazing to me when seemingly well-educated people don't get why they should RSVP when the invitation clearly requests it.
Knowing the total number of expected guests is critical at weddings and other large events because of the costs and deadlines involved in meal planning and preparation. But even for smaller social events, I lament the fact that people either don't know what RSVP means or worse, choose to ignore it.
When working with brides, coordinators and planners are expected to know the social "rules" and to help their clients incorporate them into the celebration planning.
Here are a few criteria to keep in mind:
1. As Emily Post says, "No one is obligated to accept an invitation or to explain their reasons for not accepting. However, when someone is kind enough to extend an invitation, one should be just as kind and reply to the invitation." Unfortunately, this is not always done.
2. Ask for help. If you have invited someone to your wedding and have included a reply card with a return by requested date and you still haven't heard back, the best solution is to press bridesmaids or family relatives into helping you contact all those persons who have yet to reply. A professional planner can also help you in this situation. If a phone call is in order, helpers can say something like this: "Hi __________, this is ____________. I am calling to make sure that you have received the invitation to ___________ 's wedding. The bride has not heard from you yet and needs to know if you plan to attend. The count needs to be in by ____________. Everyone is looking forward to seeing you." If you are leaving a voicemail message, add "Please call me back at ______________."
3. Respond in the same manner that the invitation was issued.
4. Reply back as soon as possible. Don't put the invitation in the "to do" pile unless you need to ask the availability of the other person whose name may be on the invitation with yours.
5. Keep replies brief. You don't need to go into great detail about why you cannot attend.
6. Remember to number your guest list to match the number on the back corner of the reply card in case the guest forgets to write their name. This way you can know who is replying!