RSVP (invitations)

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In the context of social invitations, RSVP is a request for a response from the invited person or people. It is an initialism derived from the French phrase Répondez s'il vous plaît, literally "Reply if you please" or "Reply please".[1]

Emily Post[edit]

The high society of England adopted French etiquette in the late 18th century, and the writings of Emily Post aim to offer a standard no more stringent than that tradition. Late 20th century editions building on her 1920s work say, e.g., that "Anyone receiving an invitation with an R.S.V.P. on it is obliged to reply....",[2] and some recent editions describe breaching this standard as "inexcusably rude".

Emily Post advises anyone receiving an invitation with an RSVP on it must reply promptly, and should reply within a day or two of receiving the invitation.[3]

Responding as notice of attending[edit]

While an RSVP request expects responses from both those attending and not attending - there is discussion suggesting many people misunderstand the concept and do not respond if they are not attending. In Las Vegas where the RSVP is the lifeblood of social gatherings, there is some debate as to the modern use. Coined the "Cautela" version, one only needs to respond if accepting the invite. [4]

RSVP, regrets only[edit]

The phrase "RSVP, regrets only," or simply "Regrets only," is a popular modern variation on the Emily Post RSVP. The intention is to say "you need reply only if you are going to decline" with the effect "if you do not reply, that will be taken as an acceptance."

More specifically, if most invitations can be assumed to be accepted, a "regrets only" RSVP will reduce the communication required by both host and guests. The phrase "Regrets only" refers to the assumption that a decline will be worded with some variation of "We regret we cannot attend...," and it follows that if the guest intends to attend the event, any "regrets" will be missing from the reply.[5]

Save the date cards[edit]

Prior to receiving the RSVP invitation, the host may mail out a "save the date" card to advise the date and location of the party. This may be used when the event will be held in a distant location to allow for travel plans, such as a wedding, christening or any other important event.[6]


  1. ^ "If it pleases you" is the preponderant phrase used in French in making polite requests, and does not convey the formality or irony that "if you please" can carry in English. RSVP's ask for information such as, the guest names that are attending and any dietary requirements for catering purposes. RSVP's are either a card with an envelope or a postcard. The postcard style was designed as a less expensive option.
  2. ^ Emphasis as in original; The new Emily Post's Etiquette, Emily Post & Elizabeth L. Post, Funk & Wagnalls, 1975
  3. ^ "Invitation Etiquette". The Emily Post Institute, Inc. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  4. ^ E.g. "[Perhaps] people no longer understand what the term means." and "An RSVP seems to be more commonly ignored today. A host often cannot use the RSVP count because so many guests do not respond."
    (The second source page at may not be linked from Wikipedia, due to spam considerations.)
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Invitation Etiquette". The Emily Post Institute, Inc. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 

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