RSVP: A French Phrase, And An Important Task

Voice From The Bullpen

There are many times in our lives when we are invited to attend events sponsored by groups with which we belong, or friends with whom we socialize or work, or even family. It may be a dinner sponsored by the group, or a family or friend wedding, or a birthday, holiday, or company dinner or get-together. In most of those scenarios, invitees are asked to RSVP to those invitations, basically so they know how many to prepare for with regards to table settings, refreshments, food orders, etc. RSVP is the acronym for the French phrase, “Repondez s’il vous plait,” translated in English, “Please respond.”

Often times there is a “respond by” date on the invitation, so shopping can be done and arrangements can be made and finalized with time to spare, or refreshments can be ordered by the caterer’s “respond by” date, if, in fact, the event is going to be catered.

There are other times when a group with which we belong, sometimes has a fundraiser chicken barbecue or spaghetti dinner and orders are being taken, so those sponsoring can make sure they prepare enough food for the dinners, and there is a deadline for letting the organizers know how many orders there will be so, again, they can make sure they have enough food to complete the orders.

Having been involved in many of the situations above, it is tough when many do not RSVP, and plans are then made for the total on the invited list, hoping that everyone shows so there isn’t an overabundance of leftover food, or in the case of the fundraising dinners, so there is enough food to cover all the orders. Some invitations request “Regrets only” RSVPs, but those are sometimes forgotten to be sent back, and again, the party/fundraiser organizer and/or planner prepares for more than the number that will be there.

Another scenario which often occurs with regard to this topic, is receiving calls a day, or even two, before the event, apologizing for forgetting to RSVP and asking if they can still be put on the list to participate. Again, preparation usually takes more than a day or two to pull off the social event, or fundraiser, and asking for the deadline to be extended creates more work, and sometimes embarrassment, to accommodate those making the request. More often than not, the host or organizer won’t want to offend anyone by refusing to honor their request, so they scramble to make sure all are included.

There’s are also times when people do RSVP, but then something comes up and they don’t make it, but don’t let the inviter know. I realize that emergencies come up, and some of those are near to the day of the event, and I can understand that sometimes the emergency is first priority and has to take precedence. That is totally understandable.

In these days of instant communication and response capabilities through technology that we carry with us most of three quarters of a day (I’m giving an average of six hours a night to sleep as the other fourth of the day), so how long would it take to text, message, call, or e mail an RSVP to someone, or even fill out that RSVP card, often sent with a stamped envelope, and drop it in the mail?

It sounds like a small thing to do, but it is a huge thing to the person or persons who have invited, or arranged for a gathering and have included us on the guest list.

And please consider that deadlines are requested and are imposed for very good reasons. This doesn’t just apply to responding to invitations, they are in most things in our lives. There are deadlines in our jobs, and in managing our expenses and finances. There are deadlines in paying our taxes, and in our children’s school homework requirements. There are deadlines in submitting applications for most everything that requires an application to be filled out and submitted. Deadlines are a big part of life and very necessary too. It’s not hard to do, but it means a great deal to the people setting the deadlines.

Small courtesies are big parts of life, more for one side than the other, but considering that one side is offering something or doing something that includes us, it should be a huge reason to meet the deadlines and “Repondez s’il vous plait.”


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