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Please RSVP

0037On the invitation to my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I included the acronym RSVP.  I am certain the word “optional” did not accompany this request for a reply so I remained puzzled as to why so many did not inform me as to their intentions.

The crisp white invitation included the details of the day in a turquoise font. And then, in hot pink, to really stand out for the invited guests, the words “please RSVP by October 6th.”  My decision to add the word “please” before the letters RSVP could technically be construed as redundant since RSVP comes from the French phrase, réspondez, s’il vous plaît, which literally means “please reply.” Yet, my decision for the additional “please” was perhaps a subtle attempt to convey to my guests that I would really appreciate for the invitees to accept or decline by the designated reply date.

One full week after my RSVP deadline, I stepped away from my computer screen after sending messages to 18 parents and 14 couple friends. I added some pleasantries and exclamation points to the emails to soften the potential embarrassment of missing the response date. I fell short of adding the smiley faces that jump up and down and wink at the email recipient and realized that if I was going to add emoticons that an angry facial expression would be a more accurate interpretation of my actual feelings.  And, perhaps an added “p.s. I’m sorry I even invited you if you can’t find the time to let me know if you are coming.” I had mailed the invites six weeks prior, giving a full month to respond. Why do people ignore invitations?

I’m still uncertain whether I would have received a larger response rate if I had included a reply card with a self addressed stamped envelope for the invited guest to fill out and return by mail. My “greener” approach, providing an email address to respond to, perhaps presented some with technical difficulties. My parents’ friends, however, responded in a timely fashion via email yet I am still not sure whether it is a coincidence that their replies were in all capital letters. Is it that the “caps lock” button was activated or were they screaming at me for not including a simple reply card?

Maybe using RSVP is too vague. Maybe in the future I just need to write on the invitation what I really mean. I wonder how the invitees would react if, “please RSVP” was replaced by “I really need to know whether you are coming and don’t make me chase you down.”  Or, maybe, “if you don’t let me know by the reply date, you won’t be invited to any more of my parties.” Perhaps then my invited guests would let me know whether they plan to attend.

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This entry was written by Randi Olin

About the author: Randi Olin is the Senior Editor at Brain, Child. Her work has recently appeared in Brain, Child, Your Teen,, Scary Mommy among other publications. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Randi Olin

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