All right, folks, listen up! This is a BIG detail in etiquette that should never be overlooked.
RSVP, in French is: Répondez, s’il vous plaît
Translated, it means “Please reply”.
When you receive an invitation that includes “RSVP”, you are being asked to confirm whether or not you will be attending the event. According to Emily Post’s site, you should respond within a day or two of receiving the invitation. (Though, sometimes there are “Please respond by” dates that give you a bit more time to plan.)
– What if I don’t plan to attend? –
If you plan to attend, respond appropriately. If you do not plan to attend, respond appropriately.
Just because you aren’t attending the event does not make you a non-issue. They still need to know whether they should plan on feeding/seating/parking you (and that’s by no means an exhaustive list… It could easily involve the number of wedding/party favors, what kinds of food/drink is served, etc.).
– How should I respond? –
Respond in the manner indicated. If you’ve received an invitation (the snail-mail kind…), but it does not include an email address or phone number with the RSVP, then you should HAND WRITE a response. I know, I know… But, you can do it. I believe in you. 😉
Sometimes, response cards are included with the invitation. Simply use these and mail them the old fashioned way.
If email or phone is indicated by the invitation, you should email or call with your response.
Some invitations may ask for “Regrets only”. If this is the case, do as instructed. If you don’t plan to attend, let them know.
If no RSVP even exists in the invitation, you SHOULD STILL respond. It’s just a polite gesture, and allows your host to know better how to plan. In general, more communication is better than less.
– Can I bring someone? –
If they weren’t invited, no you can’t. The end.
– I wasn’t technically invited, but I’m a good friend. Can I invite myself? Or, at least, ask if I’m invited? –
No. And… No.
Don’t take it personally, and understand that there may be details and complications that you are unaware of.
Of course, there will always be little exceptions here and there, but these are very good, basic rules to go by. And, I know that there are other things to think about and discuss in this topic. But, like I said, these are the basics.