What is an RSVP and What to do about it?

In the U.S., expect formal invitations from those inviting you to parties. Whether the party is a wedding, a Christmas or Holiday party hosted by your team or office, or your neighbor's Fourth of July BBQ, it's critical to respond to the invitation by RSVP. 

What is an RSVP? 
RSVP stands for Répondez, S'il Vous Plaît (in French) which means "please reply." In the U.S., I have also heard people say it means 'respond very promptly.' While that is the wrong expansion, this is the feeling an RSVP should put in a person. When receiving an invite in the U.S., do not forget to reply to the RSVP or the American would think you are not coming. (Even if you are not coming, it's important to RSVP). 

Video: What is the Full Form of RSVP? 

Paper Invites 
If it is a paper invitation, it typically will be given to you in an envelope. Inside the envelope, you will find an invitation, a RSVP card, and a return envelope, usually with a stamp. Usually, such elaborate invitations and RSVPs would be given for grand occasions like weddings. If offices hold holiday parties, most likely the RSVP can be handed in person back to the event organizer (postal mail would not be required). Take note that some invites will also ask you to choose your menu or dinner item. Don't forget to check your option on the RSVP. Whether returning the RSVP by post or in person, return it before the date noted on the RSVP card. 

To see how this kind of invite works in real life, check out this video entitled Wedding Tips & Advice: How to Reply to an RSVP for a Wedding Invitation.

E-invites
Evites, e-invites or virtual invites delivered via email are another popular option that also saves money for the event organizer. Keep in mind that at times these kinds of invites do get delivered to our spam folder, so in case your American friend has invited you for a birthday party or other types of events and mentioned the invite would come by email, if you do not see it in your inbox, check your spam folder. Unlike paper invites, the RSVP would be on the same screen as the invite in most cases.

Word of Mouth Invites 
Some may feel that RSVPing doesn't matter if the invitation is by word of mouth or simply to stop by to share a drink or watch a movie at your colleague's house. It is still very important to let the person who invited you know if you will be coming or not. Why? In case you are not able to make it, then they can do something else that day.

Is the RSVP only for me? 
Well, this is tricky. Normally, the RSVP would ask you to include a number of additional guests. In most cases, adults can attend as additional guests, but children may not be able to. This is especially true for office parties and some weddings, especially where drinking may be going on. Americans do not prefer their kids to be around adults when they are drinking. In these cases, children may be sent to a babysitter or gramma's house during these kinds of events. 

How to Politely Decline an Invite 
If responding in person, always apologize. I share some more ideas in the video below. 

Do you have any experience with RSVPs that you would like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments section below.

Jennifer Kumar helps Indians and other to-be expats prepare for onsite assignments in the US through cross-cultural business seminars. Contact us to learn more. 

Related Posts: 
Potluck Parties: NRI Culture in the USA 
Restaurant Etiquette & Mannerisms in the USA  
Tips on Western Place Settings 



Photo credits:
White RSVP card: Amanda, creative commons@flickr
RSVP with envelope: Parekh cards, creative commons @flickr

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