What Does RSVP Mean When You See it on an Invitation?

Let's Clear Up the Confusion Over the Phrase "RSVP"

RSVP Example
RSVP Example. RocoandMiley.com

Finally, the debated meaning of the ever-elusive RSVP is revealed! This tip is for both hosts and guests alike because there seems to be a lot of confusion about the meaning of the term RSVP. Often, guests will see those letters on an invitation and not be sure what they're supposed to do about it. No one wants to be rude and not respond accordingly. There are times we as guests don't have the correct answer.

RSVP is a simple mystery that is not overly complicated. I will walk you through the acronym and help decode the confusion over the phrase "RSVP". You will never find yourself questioning what the phrase RSVP means and can proudly share the information with friends. Most importantly ignoring an RSVP does have it's consequences.

The Problem

Friends and readers often express the frustration, and I often experience it myself, that even when you put an RSVP request on an invitation, guests don't do anything about it. Before I started hosting parties I might even skip the RSVP myself. What I didn't know at the time is this could lead to many issues for the host. The major problem is that a host can't estimate how many guests plan to attend their party without an RSVP.

This could mean either one of two things: rudeness is a growing trend in our society or, as I would prefer to believe, people no longer understand what the term means.


What RSVP Means

The term RSVP comes from the French expression "répondez s'il vous plaît", meaning "please respond". If RSVP is written on an invitation it means the invited guest must tell the host ​whether or not they plan to attend the party. It does not mean to respond only if you're coming, and it does not mean respond only if you're not coming (the expression "regrets only" is reserved for that instance).

It means the host needs a definite head count for the planned event and needs it by the date specified on the invitation.

Why It's Inconsiderate Not to RSVP

An incomplete list of respondents can cause numerous problems for a host including difficulty in planning food quantities, issues relating to minimum guarantees with catering halls, uncertainty over the number of party favors and difficulties in planning appropriate seating, among other things. Until you host your own parties, it's difficult to imagine the frustration that ensues from inadequate responses to an RSVP.

So the next time you see RSVP on an invitation you receive, please call your host and respond promptly. Your host will be eternally grateful.