Monday, December 13, 2010

is 'no manners' the new 'casual manners'? (Regarding the RSVP)

dearest esb-

my lovely fiance and i will be married in less than three weeks. we are 31 and 30 years old, which i feel is relative to my inquiry. prior to all the wedding rigmarole, i thought myself to be on the up-an-up side of things when it came to attending parties, showers and RSVP-ing. however, after recently looking at both of these situations under a microscope, i have to admit that I WAS WRONG and could have been doing a much better job at both. you read the printed word? i hereby pledge to always RSVP in a timely fashion. where's the blog icon for that?

what boggles my mind, though, is the generally apathetic informality of people my age when it comes to party behavior and manners. i anticipated the lack of RSVP's, but i did not foresee the very bad and downright tacky behavior by our ADULT friends. we were thrown a co-ed stock-the-bar party yesterday and i was horrified to learn that of the 60 invited guests (all local area friends whom we have recently hosted in our home or attended showers/parties for), twelve returned the courtesy of a reply to the hosts. TWELVE. and yet over thirty attended. as to further odd behavior, the party was from 4-6 pm, and the best man arrived wasted. one guest texted us hours before the party to say that they (plus six other guests) had planned to attend, but had a rec-league softball game that evening, and thus couldn't make it. two guests, who we visited the day before, said that, nah, they didn't really feel like it, when we asked if we'd see them at the shower. a coworker handed me her invitation with CAN'T COME written on it, and asked if i could please let my friends know. one girl told me, as her actual response, 'we have a baby now.'

now please don't misunderstand me. our friends, despite the appalling lack of tact, are a great bunch. i'm not some crazed bride who thinks it's ME o'clock, ready to hold grudges against half of our close(r) friends who weren't there for whatever reason. it isn't that i expected everyone to come. it isn't that i assumed everyone on that list was my BFF who wouldn't miss it for the world and it isn't that i presume to be the most important thing happening on a sunny sunday afternoon.

i just found it fairly rude to the hosts.

they had no idea what to plan for, and fortunately, had tremendously over-compensated. even if only twelve people had attended, there was a large amount of finances and planning that went into the whole event, and i find it more a matter of respect for your peers. i mean, we are adults... adults living in the supposedly genteel south, i might add. i'm already slated to host the next bridal shower, and i am dreading the guessing game of who will and who will not be there/RSVP/RSVP and yet not attend, and so on.

it occurred to me that this breach in etiquette amongst people my age is either an epidemic that rights itself with maturity, or just another revolting sign of the downturn in manners, but regardless, applies to all party and event situations. so i ask you, as a future RSVP-requester, is this just the way things are for today's modern couple? is 'no manners' the new 'casual manners'? will manners come back into fashion, much like skinny ties and martini lunches and hats on women, a la mad men? when is it okay to NOT RSVP? what constitutes a valid reason to NOT attend a good friend's party? is it okay for hosts to contact non-RSVP-ers as the event grows near? what is the best way to convey that A TIMELY RESPONSE, even if it is no, WOULD BE REALLY, REALLY NICE.

répondez s'il vous plaît.



First off, I think "RSVP" and "répondez s'il vous plait" should both be permanently retired. I mean. We don't live in PARIS, do we? "Please respond" is much more direct, and everyone knows what it means.

I'd say it's never okay not to RSVP, er, respond. (Note to self: Must RSVP to that holiday thingee...) But you don't get to decide "what constitutes a valid reason" for not attending your party/shower/wedding. Welcome to friends with babies.

Part III. It is absolutely okay to call or email nonrespondents to say "HEY SHITBAGS: ARE YOU COMING TO THE PARTY, OR WHAT? WE NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH BEER TO BUY."

(Image via TaHe)


  1. Yeah, totally agree! We are getting married in a few weeks and the few people who didn't let us know by the RSVP date got 'kick up the arse' group email to remind them. no biggie.

    also, you totally don't get to decide or judge what is an ok reason for people not to attend. all sorts of people can't come to our wedding and they all have their reasons. sometimes it sucks, but my wedding is not the most important event of my life and if they can't make it i'm sure we'll catch up for a drink and a laugh another time.

  2. I completely agree with this post. There is a girl I've known since kindergarten and we invited her to the bachelorette party and shower (both were last weekend). NEVER HEARD FROM HER. My bridesmaid who organized these events tried to contact her 4-5 times, and I tried to contact her twice. We just sent out our invitations today and I bet I don't get an response from her either.

    I had a friend of the family complain that our response deadline is 3 weeks out from the wedding (our final count is due 2.5 weeks). She said she didn't know what she would be doing that day and it's not fair for us to ask her to make plans that far in advance. Um, then RSVP "no", moron.

  3. First of all, I despise RSVPing via phone (I don't like speaking on the phone and I don't like making small talk with strangers) so I prefer an email address or a written response card. Regardless I always respond and I have never thought twice about reaching out to people who miss the RSVP deadline.

  4. I've (thankfully) done a lot of event-organizing prior to this wedding, and I'm so with you on the valid reason thing.

    I actually get kind of offended when people offer up their excuses. The way I see it, you're an adult. You decide whether you can or can't come. That's all I (or anyone ever) need(s) to know. I'm not your mother or teacher or principal... I don't need your (95% of the time) lame excuse. A yes or a no. The end.

  5. Maybe your hosts should have created a Facebook event. Seems like physically mailing a RESPONSE card is waaaay too much work for our crappy generation. As sad as that is, you're only going to frustrate yourself further if you think the times-they-aren't-a-changin'.

    A good handful of our friends were really inadvertently rude when it came to our wedding. A few of them (close ones, too!) told us at the very last min. that they would not be coming. We had already paid the caterer for their meals and HANDMADE their place cards and napkin holders. One of them had previously agreed to do our photography at the rehearsal dinner/party (because we didn't have the budget for a pro but wanted some nice shots of the evening because my in-laws had gone to a lot of trouble to put together a fun pre-wedding party for us.) He let us know he wasn't coming the DAY before. What's more, the friends that didn't come never sent us cards/gifts/email/Facebook messages saying congrats and so sorry we couldn't be there. But, I'm not their mommy. I don't really feel the need to bring their bad manners up to them.

    AND...many, many friends and family members DID come, and went waaaay out of their way to make us feel insanely loved that whole weekend. :)

  6. I blame facebook and its "maybe" option.

  7. I have to say, that this is not universal to a specific "generation". I was 23 when I got married, and we had very little trouble getting responses from our friends or from the older folks we invited. I think you just may have rude friends.

  8. ESB, Part III is SPOT ON. I just got married in October and this is normal. I had to make phone calls 2 weeks before my wedding. It's pretty crappy, but life happens. I personally think people just like to keep free stamps. ;)

  9. ahhh, I just experienced this last weekend. It takes take a lot of time planning and spending money to host an event for a group and it boggles my mind when people "respond" they are coming and then the day of I get a bunch of txts from people saying they would try and make it several hrs later because they had other things they need to do first. I hav no idea hpw to fix this but i think it is completely normal to ask people if they plan on coming if you haven't recieved a response yet.

  10. oh god, i fear this so much... i get so pissed at people not RSVPing. i threw a bridal shower for my best friend this summer and 50% of people RSVPed. not including the mother of the groom! (and no, it was not assumed she was coming) HA! pathetic.

  11. This is the WORST. I have dealt with this by just promising myself that I will always respond to invitations - whether by Facebook, response card, email or whatever - so not to leave others hanging. You know, 'be the change you want to see' and all that.

  12. I think there is a difference between RSVPing and providing a reason. There have been things I haven't wanted to go to, for bullshit reasons - but I always promptly responded that I was so sorry not to be able to make it. I didn't really care WHY people couldn't come to our wedding - I just needed to know.

  13. this really burns me up. it is so unbelievably and unquestionably rude to not RSVP to something that requires one.

    i agree, though, that people don't need to give you an excuse/reason for why they can't come. they just need to rsvp with the appropriate response and MOVE ON.

  14. It's unfortunate that this couples' invited friends did such a lackluster job on the response front, and I know a lot of people take issue with the effect that electronic communication has had on all other communication, but...that's the reality of the time we're living in.

    Of course, there are (and always will be) pockets of people who appreciate, expect and participate in more traditional means of spreading the word when it comes to social situations (read: mailed invitation, mailed response).

    But this simply is not the norm anymore and probably never will be.

    Yes, it sucks to invite people to something and not get a response, but I think we've reached a point in time when it's necessary for people to decide what is more important to them when it comes to hosting an event: pretty pretty paper conveying all the details and the hope that people will respond, or actual responses.

    Sure, evites and facebook event invitations are more casual and might even be considered "tacky" by some people. But they're also incredibly convenient and FAR more likely to be responded to than mailed invitations for the simple fact that clicking a button will always and forever be easier than filling out and mailing a response card, picking up the phone, or typing out an email.

    So if it's responses you want, communicate with people in whatever way makes it easiest for them to DO the responding.

  15. Um, do your friends do this in everyday life? Because even for non wedding related dinner party type things, I expect a fairly prompt yes or no from my friends (or a maybe, if schedules are tough), and I do the same in return. None of us is perfect, but I usually know who to expect at various things. Maybe they need a bit of life training? Oh, and you can always send a nudge-y email, which is a pain, but makes planning easier.

  16. that does suck for the hosts. BUT, nowadays, if the invitation was sent out early enough, the hosts could have phoned people whose replies they hadn't received yet. did they really believe only 1/5 of the invited were coming?

    don't be distracted by the rude guests "reasons" for not attending. their excuse, valid or not, shouldn't be a factor. just be pissed they didn't bother replying.

    and the best man sounds fun :)

  17. Of the 31 people who have not responded to our wedding invitation, all are over 40 and 16 are friends of my parents (i.e. 50s & 60s). (The reply by date was a week ago.) So in my experience, the lapse in manners is not limited to our generation. How hard can it be to respond, especially when the host provides a pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelope?

  18. Also, my current RSVP strategy is to respond the day I receive the invitation. If I'm not sure if I can go, I RSVP yes and notify the host as soon as possible if it turns out I can't attend. I'm more likely to go if I've already said I would.

  19. @Jess, I agree. I was way more annoyed with the people who gave me a lame excuse than the people that just responded "no." Because the "reasons"? Other people surmounted them. It's not that you can't come because of xyz reason. It's because my event is not important enough to you to work around xyz reason.

    And, that's fine, we're all adults and if xyz reason is your choice over me, that's you're prerogative. But please. Telling someone that they're low on a priority list (because that's what you're doing, when you're doling out lame excuses) is rude. Just say, "Sorry, we won't be able to make it!" and be done with it. OWN IT.

    Now, if you ASK for a reason and you get what you constitute as a lame excuse, well, then, that's on you. Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to.

  20. i have friends that do this to me all time. not for weddings, mind you ... but lunch dates, dinner parties, etc.

    one gal arrives at least an hour late. ALL. THE. TIME. she will text me, whilest i sit lonely at the bar (POUNDING DRINKS) "bus late. finally enroute." as if i didn't have to take a fucking bus, too.

    or friends that say they'll come to a small dinner party and then something more interesting comes along, so they bow out at the last minute.

    OR (and these are the worst offenders) friends that simply don't respond, because they are WAITING for something more interesting to come along. then at the last minute they confirm. "see you tonight! what can i bring?"

    SHITBAGS. sometimes i get angry at myself for being such a pushover.

  21. Yes people suck at replying. For our wedding we sent out stamped, self addressed response cards along with the invitation.

    We still didn't get heaps of them and had to chase people. All you had to do was tick a box!

    And yes, failing to write a thank you is unforgiveable. Honestly.

  22. Oh, I would TOTALLY call them on it. It's downright rude and inconsiderate, to both the hosts and the people for whom the party is thrown, to not respond.

    Case in point: a post-wedding party was just thrown for a coworker. Although the invitation requested an RSVP for regrets only, people were "debating" (as if it's really that big of a fucking deal) whether to go up until the day of.

    In my book, if you're invited to something and don't have a reason why you can't go (aka, something already planned, etc.), you go. End of story. If you don't, you're an asshole. Worst case scenario: the party sucks, you duck out.

    Point being, you were thought of and your presence was *requested*, so why would you say no? It's kind of a golden rule thing: wouldn't you want people at YOUR party?

    Unfortunately, I fear that most will never know this until they get married or throw a sit-down dinner of some sort... it's just one of those things that people don't get.

  23. I agree with the ESB here (although I have no feelings either way on the use of RSVP... Everyone knows what that means).

    Anything as simple as "meh, I don't feel like it" is a suitable excuse (however if it were me I'd come up with something a little more creative) ... but especially in the electronic age I'd send people a reminder email.

  24. All for the "dear shitbags" e-mail.

  25. Agreed, agreed, agreed.

    I wrote 'replies please to phone no/email' instead of RSVP on the last invites I sent out and I do think it made a difference.

    Also, it may piss you off what your friends think is more important/appealing than your party but you can't tell someone off for the social events they attend. (You *can* choose your friends, though. Just sayin'.)

    And finally, *definitely* ok to chase people for RSVPs. Maybe if everyone did this more people would start to get the message that you're actually supposed to respond.

  26. This very issue made me froth at the mouth today while tracking responses for a cocktail party I'm throwing. People who don't respond to invitations (mailed, emailed, posted, whatever) should be rounded up and SHOT, eviscerated, dragged through the streets, and forced to watch movies starring Jennifer Lopez. I am so fucking sick of my peers being immune to COMMON DECENCY. There is no excuse - though my mom mentioned that people who don't host parties have no idea how much work and consideration goes into giving them. If they did, they'd be more considerate.

    OK, that felt really good.

  27. Yeah, I don't really think that it matters whether you have a paper invite with a stamp already applied, or you do an electronic invite.

    For our wedding my husband made an awesome website, and we sent out paper invites. In order to rsvp, all they had to do was go to the website (which it said on paper invite) and type in their name. Then click yes or no. That simple. And I'd say maybe 10% of the people actually did it. And you know who those were? The older crowd. And we are in our mid 20's and 30s.

    S0- I think the point is that unless you have a lot of friends/family that are a)very polite, or b) in the same part of life as you ie, getting married, or already went through it, then they just don't really think about it it.

    Frustrating for sure, but what isn't about a wedding right? Just enjoy the people who do show up :)

  28. This is making me wonder if having both a paper invite and an emailed one that links to a website will "help" people respond better/quicker/at all? Perhaps if they are bombarded with reminders they will be more motivated?

    I run into this problem whenever I host an event. You always have to leave room for the no-shows that said yes and the people who show up but never said anything at all. I thought it was a Los Angeles thing but apparently it's a nationwide epidemic.

  29. Fascinating discussion. Until someone has actually taken the time and spent the money to put a lovely event together, they will not understand the transgression of not RSVPing. My ex-daughter-in-law never responded to invitations, but usually showed up for family parties. During her 20-year marriage, she never hosted a dinner party for anyone.

  30. It's pure selfishness. Everyone thinks they are the busiest person in the world and can't be bothered to follow up, reply, be punctual.
    I threw a babyshower and got 6 rsvps out of 75 invites. But everyone showed up anyways. How to plan for food/drinks/favors/seating? No one cares. And this was all age groups, even family members.
    I blame the "anything goes/no rules" attitude that prevails. There are no social norms and it shows!

  31. It's a personality thing IMO. Having had a business with employees I can tell you that surprisingly many people live in their own 'verse completely oblivious to the fact that I pay them salaries to do their job and they treated their friends no better and certainly wouldn't bother to RSVP. How hard can it be? Pick up the damn phone and spend a minute on what you call a friend - and be a friend in return.