If we knew you were coming… the art of the R.S.V.P.

A friend of mine recently took on a community outreach job where she has to arrange free events for a local non-profit organization.

The carefully targeted invitees are sent invitations both by snail mail and e-mail. The invitations are sent in a timely manner and indicate the event is free but space is limited and one must RSVP to attend.

There is a handy email address to send a response, a mailer to mail back, and a website to also let the event organizer of ones decision of attending or not attending.

At such a recent family friendly event, I watched my friend fly around the event venue in a panic.  Around 25 families responded that they would be coming.  Double that amount had lined up outside the door, waiting to come in. She feared she did not have enough forks or plates, or food ordered for the unexpected who showed up. Would she run out of craft supplies and disappoint some unsuspecting children. After all, it wasn’t their fault if their parents failed to R.S.V.P. And, in an event with a purpose to create inclusiveness, it would be wrong and off-putting to turn people away.

Do you R.S.V.P. yes  or no to every invite you receive?

To an event planner, that yes or no response makes the difference between having enough pre-cut craft pieces or not having enough. It is the difference between having enough juice boxes for the kids whose parents responded or having to turn people away with kids who may have wanted to do a craft project and a juice box but didn’t respond and feeling badly about it. And, if you don’t RSVP to an event like a wedding that requires head counts by the caterer or table seating arrangements, you may quickly fall off invitee lists of the future.

This problem seems systematic in my community, I wonder if this goes on everywhere. Are the e-vites that appear in our overloaded e-mail and social networking in boxes not as significant as the invitations that are mailed to us the old-fashioned way?

Now, am I innocent of the crime of not RSVPing to something, and then showing up? Absolutely not.

A few months ago, I had plans to attend what I thought was an informal learning session after Saturday morning services at my synagogue. What I, in my hurry in reading the email, failed to see that it was a LUNCH and learn, and one had to RSVP.

I didn’t RSVP

As a result, I felt like a heel. An idiot.

I had  no premade name tag. No table tent had been carefully prepared by an administrative assistant who made ones for  those who made it their business to RSVP in a timely manner.

There was food. None of it was ordered for me. Because they didn’t think I was coming.

So, I took no food. Not until after all the people who had the decency to respond had theirs first. Even though people said no worries, I should go up and help myself. No, I thought. I didnt’ RSVP properly. It served me right.

So, if you get in your email or social networking inbox an event, remember there are people behind that invite who have a lot of details to take care of, budgets to stay within, name tags to print and a finite number of  sandwiches to order.

Even if you have to say ‘no,’ a regret is far more appreciated than no response at all.

About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

One response to “If we knew you were coming… the art of the R.S.V.P.”

  1. Judith Felix says :

    Really informative article post. Wonderful.


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