Sunday, January 27, 2008


RSVP stands for Répondez s'il-vous-plaît, or, in English, "please respond". This is the method of responding to an invitation.

Weddings and Other Formal Occasions

Weddings and other formal occasions have the strictest rules and standards for RSVPs. Most of the time, half the work is done for you, and you will receive a small RSVP card with the invitation, with boxes to tick about if you are attending, how many people on the invitation will be coming, and whether you have any specific dietary requirements. However, this may not always be the case.

How To Write an RSVP for a formal event

If the RSVP simply gives an address or email to respond to, you will have to write a brief letter. The level of formality varies depending on whom the RSVP is addressed to. Here are some examples.

1. An RSVP to a host you are on close terms with, such as a friend or relative.

Dear Jane and Matthew,

Thank you so much for inviting us to celebrate your wedding. We will definitely be attending the ceremony and reception. Andrew is vegetarian, and Robert does not have any particular dietary requirements.

We can't wait, it'll be fantastic.


Andrew and Robert.


Dear Jane and Matthew,

Congratulations on the wedding! We're terribly sorry to say that we won't be able to make it, due to being overseas/having a work event/attending another wedding that day. Good luck, though, we're sure the day will be perfect. We would love to catch up with you at some point after the wedding.

Love, Andrew and Robert.

2. An RSVP to a host you are not as familiar with, such as the parents of the bride or groom.

Dear Mrs Johnson,

Thank you very much for your kind invitation to Jane and Matthew's wedding. Both of us will be attending the ceremony and reception. Andrew is vegetarian, and Robert does not have any particular dietary requirements.

We are looking forward to attending this wedding.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Smith and Robert Wilson.


Dear Mrs Johnson,

Thank you very much for your kind invitation to Jane and Matthew's wedding. Unfortunately, we are unable to attend the wedding due to a prior engagement. Please give the bride and groom our apologies, as well as our congratulations on their wedding.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Smith and Robert Wilson.

Things to remember
  • Always respond by the requested date. If you are mailing the invitation, look at the address and then go to the Australia Post website and determine the number of days your response will take to arrive. The RSVP date is the date your response should arrive, not the date you should send it. RSVP as soon as you are able, rather than leaving it to the last minute. This gives you time to make changes, if necessary.
  • It is your job to inform the host of any special dietary requirements. If the RSVP does not ask specifically for them, or does not mention your particular requirement, it is still your duty to inform the host if you need vegetarian/vegan/kosher/halal/lactose intolerant/glucose intolerant etc food.
  • If the invitation does not specifically say "and guest" or "plus one", do not assume you can bring a date. Although it is the norm in America to bring a date to weddings, this is not necessarily the case in Australia. If the invitation does not ask you to bring a guest, but you are in a relationship that the hosts may not be aware of, it is acceptable to contact the hosts before the RSVP date to enquire if you may bring your partner, however please do not be offended if there is no space. Weddings are extremely expensive.
  • If the invitation is for multiple people, some of whom cannot come, it is important to specify which guests are attending and which ones are not.
  • Specifically for weddings, engagement parties and baby showers, it is considered polite to send a gift even if you are not attending, and especially if you are.
  • It is not acceptable to leave early or arrive late to formal events, unless there is an unforeseen emergency.
  • If it is a family event, you are required to attend, especially if it is for a family member you see at least once a year (for Christmas etc). Being out of the country or in hospital are some of the only excuses for not being able to attend the wedding or engagement of a close family member.
Parties and Informal Occasions

Informal occasions will very rarely require written RSVPs, but will often ask for RSVP by phone or email. There may be a RSVP date, but this is less common. Still, once again it is polite to inform the hosts as soon as you can about your availability.

How To Write an RSVP for an informal event.

Hi, Robert and Andrew,
I'm definitely coming to the party. Thank you for inviting me! Is there anything I should bring? Can I help out with anything beforehand?

See you then,


Hi, Robert and Andrew,
I'm really sorry but I can't make it due to (family commitments) (work) (essay). I hope you have a fantastic time, though, and thanks for inviting me. Hopefully we can catch up soon.

Talk soon,

Here are some very incorrect RSVPs.

Yeah, I might come, if I've got nothing better to do.


No, I'm not going, it sounds like it will suck, anyway.

There is never any cause to be impolite in response to an invitation. If you are not on particularly good terms with the host, a brief email saying you can't make it is appropriate.

Things to remember
  • It is much more acceptable to ask to bring a date or guest to an informal party. Do not feel uncomfortable about asking, especially if it's a house party. If it's a small dinner party, only ask for a guest if the guest is your partner, or a friend from out of town staying with you that night.
  • If you have to arrive very late (more than two hours) or leave early, it is polite to notify the hosts in advance.
  • Do not feel obliged to attend, especially if you do not know the hosts that well.
  • If you have to cancel at the last minute, it is polite to contact the hosts and apologise, rather than just not showing up.
Facebook Invitations

Facebook makes it extremely easy to RSVP to events, with their "attending/maybe attending/not attending" function. However, no matter what you select, it is polite to write a brief note on the event wall. Generally people only post to the wall if they can't make it, and it's a little dispiriting for a host to have a big stack of posts saying "Sorry, I can't make it." even if there's a large number of people attending. A quick "I'll be there! Should I bring anything?" will make the host happy.

Things to remember
  • The event page will give information about whether it is okay to invite other people. Please stick by these guidelines.
A final note

If you are not invited to an event, it is not acceptable to gatecrash, or to ask the hosts why you have not been invited. Perhaps there is an issue with numbers (this is particularly important for formal events). Perhaps the event has a small mix of people carefully chosen by the hosts, and you might not fit in. Perhaps the main point of the party is something you might not enjoy, for example, an election night party where everyone is a member of the Greens, and you vote Liberal. If you are very close to the hosts, and it is an informal party, they will generally contact you to explain, however, you should not automatically be offended at not receiving an invitation. The hosts are not obliged to invite anyone they don't want to.

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