RSVP: What to do when guests don't RSVP?

by EPI Staff on April 14, 2009

Q: I recently invited 25 people to a cocktail party at my house. Fourteen haven’t responded yet and the party is one week away! Should I call to ask if they are coming?

A: It’s inconsiderate, but unfortunately common, for guests to fail to RSVP. Some forget; others procrastinate and then feel guilty, so they delay even longer. To the host it can seem as if your friends are waiting to see if something better comes along. The sad parts about the demise of the RSVP are it leaves the host feeling (justifiably) hurt and frustrated and relationships can suffer. A host can take control though, it is perfectly polite for you to call guests and ask if they plan to attend your party. Say, “Hi Jean, it’s Sarah, I’m just calling to make sure you received the invitation to our party Friday night. Please let me know if you and Jim can make it.  Thanks!” Anyone who receives an invitation has an important obligation to reply as soon as possible.

For more on RSVP protocol, check out: Peggy Post at Good Housekeeping or, Emily Post’s Etiquette 17th Edition by Peggy Post.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle August 28, 2009 at 8:08 am

I threw a surprise party for my husband’s birthday. His brother didn’t RSVP and didn’t return phone calls. He screens his calls. He told us when he did show up that he was waiting to see what he was doing that day or something to that affect. How do you respond to this? I didn’t say anything but did offer a smile which could mean anything, I think.

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angie October 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm

I had a 50th birthday party that was absolutely wonderful. I asked people to just bring a chair and to RSVP. We supplied band and food. I wanted to thank everyone that came and tell them how much it meant to me. I was wondering if that is appropriate. It was the best time and neighbors, friends, and family all mingled wonderfully and were so nice to one another and it was just the sweetest weekend. We housed alot and had campers that we tried to make as comfortable as possible. I am just so thankful and feel so blessed the way everything turned out. But is it okay for me to send a thankyou to those that came and made such a special birthday and life long memory. I have gotten a few conflicting opinions and wanted to know proper etiquette.

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angie October 17, 2009 at 7:07 am

I had a 50th birthday party that was absolutely wonderful. I asked people to just bring a chair and to RSVP. We supplied band and food. It was the best time and neighbors, friends, and family all mingled wonderfully and were so nice to one another and it was just the sweetest weekend. We housed alot and had campers that we tried to make as comfortable as possible. I am just so thankful and feel so blessed the way everything turned out. But is it okay for me to send a thankyou to those that came and made such a special birthday and life long memory.

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Christine December 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm

help it the 3rd of december and my invites that have been out for almost 2 weeks, with a RSVP by december 10, for a suprise 50th b-day party and only 4 of the 12 couples have rsvp. i have to give a head count on the 11 of december… do you call people of email them?? and how soon to the rsvp date?????
please help!! :)

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Graceandhonor December 4, 2010 at 1:28 am

You do nothing until your deadline for RSVPs comes on December 10th. Call those you have not heard from by 6pm on the 10th. If you can’t reach them that evening, assume they are a “no” and call your head count in the following morning. Why are you upset on December 3rd, when you gave your guests until the 10th? If you wanted to know sooner, you should have given an earlier deadline.

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Just Laura December 4, 2010 at 2:03 am

This is an excellent answer.

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Graceandhonor December 4, 2010 at 3:58 am

There seems to be a rash of overly-anxious hosts lately; ’tis the season?

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