R.S.V.P. stands for the French phrase “répondez s’il vous plaît.” It literally translates: respond if you please, but the meaning is understood as please respond.
When an invitation is marked with R.S.V.P information, one is EXPECTED to RESPOND as to whether or not they will be in attendance. Did you catch that? When the invitation says R.S.V.P., you need to contact the hostess WHETHER OR NOT you plan to attend the event.
The confusion on this matter absolutely baffles me. My mother taught me this in preschool when I first started receiving birthday party invitations. A hostess would not take the time to write out a request for a response along with the preferred methods of contact if she didn’t want to know if you were coming.
When I got married, I sent out invitations requesting an R.S.V.P. (as most wedding invitations do) and included a reply card with an addressed STAMPED envelope. Yet, somehow, invited guests failed to respond. Could you please explain that to me?? All the guest needed to do was write their name on the card, lick the envelope, and drop it in the mail. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
I absolutely love entertaining, but it frustrates me to no end when people don’t have the common courtesy to respond to an invitation. If a hostess is unprepared for the number of attendees at a gathering, it could ruin the function. Headcounts are vital to ensure enough space is available and enough food or beverages are provided. This is not a difficult concept. If the hostess doesn’t need to know how many people will attend the event, she won’t ask you to respond. If she took the time to ask, she NEEDS to know. I often hear people critiquing common etiquette practices, but this one, like many others, boils down to respect for your hostess. She took the time to invite you, so you should take the time to respond to her invitation.