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Contributed by Jessica L. Barnes on 02/23/2010
Are you coming or not? What does RSVP mean and why is it important to events?
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.
An incomplete list of respondents can cause numerous problems for a host including difficulty in planning food quantities, uncertainty over the number of party favors or handouts and difficulties in planning appropriate seating, among other things.
We all get busy and invites end up under a stack of papers on our desk or at the bottom of our email inbox, but you should always respond within 5 days of receiving an invitation. And don’t forget to mark it on your calendar! If you must decline at the last minute, you should notify the host prior to the event or first thing the next day with sincere regrets.