Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What happened to etiquette?

I'm uber annoyed about this subject so I'm gonna step up onto my soapbox for a minute or two...


1. the customs or rules governing behaviour regarded as correct or acceptable in social or official life
2. a conventional but unwritten code of practice followed by members of any of certain professions or groups 
It seems that that so many have forgotten how important proper etiquette is in so many situations.  The cardinal rule, I believe, is acting in a manner that demonstrates consideration for others.  Follow this, and you should fall within the boundaries of proper etiquette in any scenario.

My recent pet peeve has become RSVPing.  The past dozen events I have been involved with, host and guest alike, have had too many people, and most of them consistently, disregard the concept of "RSVP."

RSVP is a French acronym meaning "Respondez S'il Vous Plait" aka "Please Respond."  Simple, right?  Well, apparently not.  I suppose one could take it too literally - I responded initially, so no reason to tell them my plans have changed.  Wrong.  In the complicated world of proper etiquette, there are unstated expectations. 

Here are a few from the host's perspective regarding invitations that I think are key:

  1. Send out invitation 3 weeks prior to the event.  This allows your guests ample amount of time to check their calendars and make appropriate arrangements.
  2. Within the invitation, advise your guests what refreshments and food will be provided and what they should bring, if anything.
  3. Give directions.
  4. Provide your contact information.
  5. Ask your guests to RSVP.
  6. Send out a reminder or two - really, this should be a courtesy shortly before
As a guest you have two things expected of you:

  1. RSVP in a timely manner and update your response if it changes
  2. Show up and have a good time
Easy, right?  I mean, in 3 weeks time, how difficult is it to do step 1? Why do so many people have such a difficult time with this?

Every event has them.  The people that say they'll come and don't show.  Being a person that will always be upfront about being a yes, maybe, or no and considerate enough to advise the person if my yes turns into a no, I cannot fathom how others cannot. 

eHow puts it simply:

Do not answer yes to the RSVP and fail to show up. Only a matter of serious illness or death should keep you away. It is bad etiquette and rude to RSVP stating you will attend and not show up.
But why do so many people do it?  Is it laziness? Lack of consideration? Forgetfulness?  Forgetfulness can easily be forgiven, if a fluke, but if you're a repeat offender for being flaky or a no-show you just come across as rude and a bad friend.

Here is why:

  • The host needs to know how much food and drinks to provide
    • If they underestimate, there isn't enough for all of the guests
    • If they overestimate, there is waste and money spent that didn't need to be
  • Most of the time, a head count has a maximum.  The host must pick and choose who gets an invitation as not to exceed that number.  As a result, people get left out and I bet they are people that would show up.
  • The host constantly wonders who can and can't come.  They want so badly for everyone to have a good time, feel welcome, and get fed.  Add chasing down who's not responding and it gets to be a chore rather than something fun to plan.
    • Save them the stress and reply promptly
  • It is just plain embarrassing when the guests that did come ask the host, "Where are all of the other people that RSVP'ed?"  Good question.
But a good host knows that people are flakes, and they know who those people are.  Don't worry, won't bother inviting you next time.

This has always been a subject of frustration for me, being such a planner.  Why so heated now, you ask? Well, a repeat offender just invited me to an event and asked that I RSVP.  Really?

Stepping off, now. 


  1. oh you mean like the 12 people that didn't show up to my wedding, so 1200$ went down the drain and could have paid for a honeymoon? You mean like those people? The people I talked to a day before from work that swore they were coming and didn't show up!? ha ha

  2. haha so true! I might not be a big evite fan or use their service; however, if I give my word that I'll be somewhere you can count on it 99% of the time! Some people geez!

  3. So true. I give a lot of parties which are anywhere from a small gathering to an actual party with food/drinkity drinks/favors/etc. I get so pissed off when people don't RSVP or when they say they are going to come, but then don't. It's so rude and it's not necessary. Now, as someone who has social anxiety myself, I totally get thinking you want to go and then feel like flaking out. But if I have RSVP'd and said I was coming- I'm coming. I don't break plans because inside I'm secretly having a freak out moment and feel like running out of the place screaming. I've gotten to the point where I call people the day I do the food shopping and if they STILL don't show up, I call them out. I'm sick and tired of people being rude. You get two chances- you flake out twice, I stop inviting you. :)