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 "Please reply". The acronym "RSVP" or the phrase "Répondez s'il vous plaît" are sometimes still used in current French to require confirmation of an invitation.[1] In French, however, the acronym SVP is used to write "please", and RSVP could be written "répondez SVP".

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]

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.[4]

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 celebration. 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.[5]

RSVP please[edit]

In recent years, the use of RSVP in the English language has spread outside of the discourse of highly formal correspondence and commonly figures in group emails. In this context, the acronym seems to have loosened its tie to its original meaning and is often understood simply as an abbreviation for "reply". Many writers therefore routinely use the phrase "RSVP please", which from strictly semantic point of view is a pleonasm.


  1. ^ Invitation[better source needed]
  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. ^
  5. ^ "Invitation Etiquette". The Emily Post Institute, Inc. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 

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