the number one thing to ignore on invitations it's simply lindsay

You sort through the mail, just like every day – bill, bill, junk, credit card application, bill, junk, hand-written letter. Oooh, now we’re talking! You excitedly open your letter to find an invitation and you do one of three things:

1. Check your calendar and realize you’re free;

2. Check your calendar, realize you’re free, but you do not want to go;

3. Check your calendar and realize you have a conflict.

From personal experience and from the experience of my family and friends, I have noticed a bothersome trend with party invitations. Whether it’s for a wedding, birthday party, engagement celebration, shower, or anything in between, what always happens in the weeks leading up to the main event? As a hostess, you’re stuck with a long list of no replies that you have to awkwardly hunt down. That’s why the number one thing you should ignore on invitations is the RSVP date.

The #1 Thing to Ignore on Invitations

Why? Because you should RSVP right when you receive the invitation. Barring a few exceptions, you know the day you receive an invitation whether or not you are free – unless you’re expecting a baby around that time, in which case, you truly would not know your availability. I can’t think of many other reasons why you would not know your schedule the day you receive the invitation. Here’s what to do:

If you’re free and want to go

Well this is the easiest option because you’re excited to attend the event. Instead of saying you will RSVP tomorrow, (which turns into the next day, which turns into the next week, which turns into you lost the invitation and forgot about it) pick up the phone and happily RSVP yes. Mark it on your calendar and hang up the invitation somewhere visible on a regular basis for a daily reminder of the upcoming event.

If you’re unavailable but want to go

This is another easy option because all you have to do is pick up the phone and be honest with the host. While fear of disappointment or anxiety of rejecting may leave you declining at the last minute, it will actually make it exponentially worse for the hosts who are relying on final numbers for their party’s execution.

If you’re available but do not want to go

Instead of mulling over your excuse for days or weeks, let the hostess know that you cannot attend the day you receive the invitation. It’s not fair for you to know you will not be present at the event but for the hostess to be kept in the dark. It’s like the ‘ripping a Band-Aid off quickly’ effect – just get it over with, and it will be better for both parties.

How to decline an invitation

Remember, declining an invitation is not a rejection against the host, it’s simply saying you cannot attend the event. Here are some simple steps to take to decline an invitation.

  1. Decline promptly: don’t wait for a perfect moment that doesn’t exist; the sooner you decline, the better you will feel, and it’s better for the host who can move forward with her planning.
  2. Be honest: if you have an actual conflict in your schedule, let the hostess know. If you simply do not want to attend, while I do not condone lying, it’s best to just say you have a conflict and you’re sorry you cannot make it.
  3. Be thankful: thank the host for thinking of you and for including you and offer to get together another time (if applicable).
  4. Don’t overdo it: you don’t have to give every detail as to why you cannot go; by over-explaining your legitimate reason or false conflict in schedule, you will sound like you’re making an excuse. Keep it brief and sincere.
  5. Send a gift: if you would have brought a gift to the party, such as a birthday or shower, and it’s for a close family member or friend, send a gift instead.

Party logistics dependent on the final count

While you may think your reply yes or no will ultimately make no difference to the event, think again. First of all, unfortunately, most other people are thinking the same way, leaving the host with a long list of uncertain attendees. So why does your RSVP matter? Depending on the event, here are some ways your reply makes a difference:

  1. Guest list: there may be more people the hosts would like to invite based on the number of replies no; they need ample time to invite them.
  2. Décor: especially for weddings, your final count determines so much more than a plate of food; the final number determines how many linens, centerpieces, place cards, favors, and menus are needed for the event.
  3. Food: whether you’re cooking yourself or catering, you need to know the number of people attending so you can plan your menu, including food and beverages.
  4. Special touches: if your hosts are anything like my parents, they may be planning some special touches that will depend on who is coming to the party, such as a presentation or game.

Also, by not replying promptly or at all, the host may think you did not receive your invitation or that you’re being rude or negligent.

Lasting thoughts

I hope the next time you receive an invitation, the first thing you do after opening it and checking your calendar is either dropping your RSVP in the mail or picking up the phone to call the hostess with your reply.

As a hostess or event recipient, what are your thoughts on this? If you wait until the the last minute to respond, what is the reason?

  • I love your point about going ahead and ripping off the band-aid and not over-explaining. I have a terrible habit of over-explaining out of fear someone will find out I don’t want to go or be mad at me for not going. But I agree that it’s better to keep it simple.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I’m glad that point resonated with you; hopefully it will help next time this comes up : )

  • Totally agree with RSVPing the day you receive the invite! I cannot stand when I am waiting for a response and don’t hear back from someone. That being said, I always feel anxious when I don’t want to go to a party, but realize that simply saying I can’t make it and not offering some BS excuse is always the way to go

    • Lindsay Katherine

      It’s always an uncomfortable feeling to decline, no matter the reason; but ultimately you have to remember that the party isn’t dependent on you like you’re feeling in that moment!

  • YES!! It drives me crazy to not get RSVP’s!!!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Me too : )

  • ohh boy, it drives me CRAZY when people don’t RSVP on time.

    I got myself into a scenario I felt awful about just this past week, where I needed to wait for a summer regatta schedule before I could confirm a wedding invite. I spoke with the bride as soon as I received the invite to let her know we were tentative. In the end I had to decline 🙁 But Hopefully she’ll love the Kate Spade Cookie Cutters I bought off her registry for her.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      That sounds like the perfect response, Laura! I’m sure the bride appreciated the heads up about being tentative, and the cookie cutters sound adorable! What shapes were they??

      • An apple, a coffee mug, a bow tie, and one that looks like it might be Mickey Mouse, haha. They’re very cute.

        • Lindsay Katherine

          Oh my gosh, I want them!!

  • We just went through this with our wedding and reception invitations in September. Since we had a destination wedding we had a reception for everyone once we returned home. There were so many people who never even rsvp’d. It was disappointing to us but it was also an eye opening experience on the importance of RSVPs.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Congrats on your wedding – where was your destination?? Did you have to call all those people who didn’t RSVP?

  • I’m much more often a hostess than a guest, and I’ve only ever had one event with RSVP (my wedding)–everything else, I’ll have a party without RSVP because I don’t think in our current culture that it’s a very helpful tool for the hostess anymore–particularly since I don’t live in the West, it’s kind of a foreign concept. I just plan any event inviting lots of people…and expect even more to show up than were actually invited. I hosted a goodbye party last year where 150 guests attended–but that one we expected to be pretty big, so we were ready. 30 guests showed up for my Easter dinner, which was a bit of a tight squeeze in my little apartment, but it was so much fun. As a guest I do always try to let my host know my plans ASAP, but as a hostess…I don’t like to impose on my guests. I’m pretty laid-back, I often make new friends at my parties because my friends bring friends I’ve never met before.

  • Last minute responds frustrated me. But having been in a situation where I literally didn’t know if I would be in the country around that time, I choose to ask the host if a late response was okay or if she just wanted me to decline. I ended up declining and it worked out for the best but It’s a hard line.

  • Yes, yes, yes!!!! I get so frustrated and upset when people don’t RSVP or wait until the very last minute. It’s hard enough to plan a party or event, and then when you can’t get a good head-count, it’s even harder.

  • Yeah, that’s a great point. I had a shower I was invited to send wasn’t sure I could go. Now I know I can attend so I need to RSVP before I forget!

  • RSVPing is so important especially for weddings. Having the hostess track down the non replies can be hectic and time consuming so people should just make the hostesses job easier by replying from the get go.

    xoxo, Jenny

  • Yes girl, this was the bane of my existence for my wedding. I was like seriously I won’t be offended just let me know so I can give your seat to someone else without making them feel like they were on the B list 😉 I think it’s so important to get back someone right away no matter what your response is!

  • Chelsea Karrenbrock

    These are great tips! I feel like so many people overlook RSVP’ing totally, which is bothersome sometimes. I always try to get back to people ASAP.

    Chelsea |

  • Yes! I think what people don’t do much is call to decline. They assume well I didn’t call to RSVP they should know i’m not going. I think it’s great to call & just give the hostest a heads up.

  • Rachel Ritlop

    I can’t stand when people RSVP last minute, if it’s a no, that’s totally cool I just want to know!

  • I have to admit I often forget to RSVP with paper invites. It’s a bad habit. eek!

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    Yes yes yes!! I hate when people don’t RSVP- and also when they are wishy wishy about being maybes. High schoolers are the worst at it ha! Come on people, commit already 🙂

  • Maggie Malson

    RSVPing is such a lost art; love this advice!

  • YESSSSS! Oh my goodness.

    Getting RSVPs for our wedding was like pulling teeth.

    Ready for a prompt, but infuriating story?

    We only invited 75 people to our wedding. I intentionally didn’t invite an old friend because we had recently drifted. No biggie. Until she ASKED where her invite was. Understanding why she may feel that way I caved and we invited them. She accepted – for 2.
    The day BEFORE my wedding she TEXTED me to let me know she wouldn’t make it….. INFURIATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ok. I’m done. Haha

  • This is so true! I always hated that so much planning was dependent on the number of people but the fact that everyone RSVPs so late if at all drove me nuts. Today I have to sadly decline and invitation and instead of waiting, I am going to send it in asap!

  • You have no idea how much I hate it when people inform me LAST MINUTE they can’t come to a dinner that I’M COOKING. This is so on point and will now include a link to this blog post on every invite I ever send out haha