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Southern Manners & The Effects of the RSVP

by Jacki Gil, Salt + Paperie 

Taken straight from the top of my Google search for “What does RSVP mean?”: “RSVP is short for, ‘Respondez, s’il vous plait,’ which means, simply, ‘Please respond’ in French. That means you should respond either way, whether you’re able to make it or not.”

Did you catch that? You should respond whether you can make it or not.

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photography credit | Sleepy Fox Photography

RSVPs are sticky subject, but are something I have been wanting to talk about for some time now! I feel like in the South we appreciate good manners more than anyone, but have some of the worst return rates for RSVPs in the country! That is not good manners! (I hope you can see me swinging my “tisk-tisk” finger in the air!)

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photography credit | Erin Lindsey Images

Actually, there’s three ways you can have bad RSVP manners:

1. You don’t send it back at all.

2. You don’t send it back, and then show up at the wedding.

3. You send it back as a yes, and then don’t end up going to the wedding.

None of these are great options. So, here it goes, my plea to you, the guests, on behalf of the most important people, the bride & groom, but also the people funding the wedding, caterers & cake makers, rental vendors and… for the good of all the unreturned RSVPs, made by yours truly.

Why you should RSVP…

…for the wedding vendors.

I might be a little bit more sensitive to this first topic because I have so many great friends that are caterers, bakers, planners and rentals! I leaned on some of them for their thoughts on how RSVPs have effected them in their own businesses.

If you don’t respond with a “yes”, and then decide to go to the wedding anyways, you are not accounted for. (Texting the bride does not count!) This can lead to anything from not enough having seating to the caterers scrambling for food, cake and flatware, to running out of alcohol, etc. That can be embarrassing for the bride & groom or their parents to run out of food or drinks or to run out of space because they only planned for the 150 guests that RSVPed, but 25 of their friends showed up who didn’t RSVP… yikes!

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photography credit | Erin Lindsey Images

Please also remember this when thinking about your RSVP: The names of the people on the outside of the envelope (or inner envelope) are invited to the wedding. As the stationer, I know a lot of time and effort goes into each and every guest list! For many reasons including space, budget or just not wanting children at the wedding, it’s very important that you pay attention to who the invitation is intended for.

… for the people paying for the wedding.

On the other hand, if you do RSVP with a “yes”, and then don’t show up that can be just as frustrating from the wedding “funders” perspective. This could be the parents, grandparents or even the bride and groom. Imagine paying $20-$100 a head (this is a real number in case you haven’t been on the backend of a wedding in a while!) and then have 20 people no-show the day of. The caterer has already prepared for all the RSVPed guests, so you have wasted food and money by not showing up.

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photography credit | Erin Lindsey Images

Anyway you look at it RSVPing, it is a vital part of financial decisions for the wedding day. Friend and planner Kathleen Bernal of Kathleen Bernal Events says, “Event hosts go by the RSVPs to see how much of everything they will need.  This includes the amount food and drinks, rented tables and chairs, rented table settings, centerpieces, event favors, desserts, and other miscellaneous purchases.”

I believe everyone (brides included!) understands that situations will arise out of your control, but if you RSVP “yes”, then go to the wedding. Mark it on your calendar, put it in your phone with an alert, but make sure you follow through with what you say!

…for the Bride & Groom.

Whether it’s been 30 years, or 3 months, remember those last few weeks are filled with a seemingly endless task list? Help them be more stress-free by not being one of the ones they have to personally contact the week before the wedding to see if you are or are not coming.

They took the time and money to invite you personally to share in one of the biggest days of their lives, so the least you can do as a gift to them is send back that pre-stamped envelope or postcard, or even easier, head over to their wedding website instead of trolling Facebook and click “yes” or “no”. You might even leave them a fun note as a bonus!

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photography credit | W + E Photographie

I definitely am not trying to scold you. Actually, who am I kidding? Yes, I am scolding you! And also trying to give some insight into what your RSVP really means, and who it affects. I find most people are still kind-hearted, and they just didn’t know that each RSVP really does matter.

So I’m asking you to “mind your manners” and help your beautiful brides, handsome grooms & empty-pocketed parents by doing this simple, and respectful task: Send back your RSVP, and then do as you say you will do.

Southern Bride Magazine, Salt and Paperie

photography credit | Kaitie Bryant

Jacki Gil, founder and creative director of Salt + Paperie, lives in a small house in the middle of town, with lots of character & surrounding characters. She’s the wife to an amazing husband, supporter, paper puncher & number cruncher, Rudy.He goes to work every day so that Jacki can continue to live her dream of owning her own business. They have two furry children, Delaney Jane, the black lab, and Captain Tucker, the welsh terrier. Their favorite things in life are Rosie’s Cantina, the beach & house projects.

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