I’ve been wondering lately, has RSVP etiquette become obsolete? Am I becoming one of those people who can’t adjust to the new ways of doing things? Am I starting to be one of those people who talks about the “good old days”?
I’ve noted many instances where RSVP etiquette has been ignored. Here’s a couple recently:
- I attended a luncheon where they had 30 positive RSVP’s and only 9 people showed up. The restaurant had reserved 30 places and the wait-staff lost out on tips for 2 hours on those reserved and not used spaces. Even the luncheon coordinator didn’t show up! The restaurant kept asking those of us who were there what was going on and we had no idea.
- Another luncheon I attended had 10 positive RSVPs and 14 people showed up. We scrunched into the space but it was physically uncomfortable (literally tight, bumping elbows to eat).
- Two instances I’ve seen on a FB meet-up group where someone set up an event (including all the logistics and snacks), expected 6-8 people (positive RSVPs), and then no one showed up.
- When hosting my book club, I had 3 folks show up who had not said, “Yes, I’ll be there” although I had asked (via email) so I would have enough seats set up, wine glasses out, etc.
One of my clubs wants me to run a craft workshop and I’m concerned about numbers. I need to buy materials. If I buy for 15 and 4 people show up, I’m out quite a bit of money. If I buy for 10 and 15 show up, there will not be enough materials. If I use a pre-sign-up sheet, will that even matter in a world where RSVP etiquette is dead?
So I’m wondering, is the proper etiquette of RSVP dead? When did this happen and why? Are there guidelines to help? Google to the rescue!
Based on timing of articles I found on the topic, the etiquette of proper RSVP has been in decline for a long time. There are two main issues: people don’t RSVP and then show up (surprise!) or people RSVP yes and don’t go (wasted effort, food, and often money).
Most articles involved wedding RSVP, but some were about informal gatherings. There was a balance of teaching proper etiquette and how to manage when you really do need an accurate head-count, like a wedding with high cost per person. If someone had proper etiquette, they probably wouldn’t be searching for info, so I felt those articles were useless. [Oh, proper etiquette is do a timely RSVP and stick to your response.] Managing the bad etiquette of no response involved follow-up by the host/hostess including text message and phone calls. Tracking down if people will come (poor behavior of others) puts another to-do on the host/hostess!
A couple of suggestions from the FB event group, which apparently has an on-going issue of people saying yes and then not showing up, was to send reminders – two days before, day before, and 2 hours before. Again, the assumption is the host/hostess is responsible for poor behavior of others.
Intriguingly, there was some discussion on why this happens. Some possible whys: social anxiety on the day of the event, not putting the event on your calendar (forgetfulness), not making the transfer from a FB event post to your personal calendar (it is too easy to click “going” on an invite whether one is actually planning on going or not!), or simply having something more exciting pop up. Yes, folks have emergencies or get sick at the last minute, but communication to the host/hostess is respectful.
There were some other random (sarcastic?) tips: Be prepared for a guest yield of anywhere from 25 percent to 125 percent. Shorten your guest list to people you trust to show up. Stop planning events at all.
Personally, for my friends group activities, I have started to send out a reminder text a couple of days before the event. My invites are usually done via email, and I’m only getting about 75% responses from my Fun Tribe (yes, disappointing!). I send two texts as reminders – one to folks who did a positive RSVP, and one to folks I had no RSVP from. It definitely adds more to the logistics of planning events. Plus, if I say I’m going to an event, I go or let the host/hostess know.
Do you have any other suggestions for improving bad RSVP etiquette?
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