Party Invitation and RSVP Etiquette Explained

Manners, Darling - Everything you need to know to be a good guest.

As experienced hospitalitarians extraordinaires there’s not much we haven’t seen happen at events, trust us! However, a growing and worrying trend has come to our attention, and we need to set it straight. No matter the type of event; birthdays or cocktail parties, corporate affairs or lavish weddings; our Magic Makers are observing havoc when guests who forgot to RSVP, turn up ready to celebrate. Yes, unbelievable we know, but sadly it’s true. While we are aware  white table service and guest etiquette may be fading elsewhere, at Myer Mural Hall everything is timeless; service, events and etiquette in every form. Is it really time to tell some people how to be a good guest? On behalf of the punctual, the organisers and all involved, it’s time we addressed this trend, once and for all.

The term RSVP is an abbreviation from the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît, which means Please reply. In previous times this is all that was needed; a please reply by the stated date. We’re not sure what’s happening, but some cheeky guests are now opting to skip the RSVP process entirely when attending an event. However, when you’re organising an event that requires catering, seating and more, knowing how many guests you’re expecting is one of the most important details, which is why the good old RSVP is so crucial.

When you’re throwing a spectacular soiree, how can you ensure your guests RSVP by the required deadline? Or if you’re guilty of being a serial non-responder that still turns up to events, how can you change your ways? We’ve put some tips and tricks together below to ensure you get all the information you need – from creating your own invitations and when to send them, through to responding in the expected way, thank you.

Set the tone

You may not have realised it, but the design of your invitations can indicate to people the importance of the event, and hence the requirement to RSVP. Sending a carefully crafted invitation in the mail hints to how formal the occasion, the tone of the event and whether an RSVP is necessary. Invitations including all of the required details, such as location, time, date and dress code, as well as when you’d like RSVPs returned by will send a message to your guest that this event is important and not to be missed.

Get the timing right

The actual time you send out invitations to an event is equally important; be it a wedding, cocktail function, baby shower or birthday party. Sending invitations out last minute – sometimes not even leaving sufficient time for people to get back to you – most likely suggests you’re not taking things too seriously. Planning an overseas wedding? Get those invites out ASAP! We’re suggesting at least 6-8 months in advance to allow time for people to organise travel and accommodation, and a save the date card even earlier won’t go astray. If you’re expecting people to travel from out of state, or even out of town, 4-6 months is common courtesy. For formal events, send out your invitations 6-8 weeks in advance to help ensure you secure the date in your guests’ diaries. For more casual events, such as a breakfast, luncheon or dinner, or even a cocktail or tea party, around 4 weeks notice is plenty.


Make responding simple

Nothing says “We really need to know if you can make it” like including a clear-cut RSVP card and return envelope with your invitation! It’s as simple as that! Including additional questions on your RSVP card, such as dietary requirements, will only further encourage guests to get back to you. If mailing this response is proving too difficult, then maybe consider using an electronic RSVP system, so that guests can jump online and select ‘attending’ at a click of a button. Paperless e-invites are becoming quite the trend, and while we’re not one to buck progression being in the digital world and all, we still believe there is nothing quite like receiving personalised invitations in your letterbox. The smell, feel and touch of a beautiful fine paper is an experience unto itself, and often unbeatable in our opinion.

Be an effortless guest

If you happen to be on the receiving end of an invitation, there’s one simple reason why – because the host would love you to be there! Out of respect for the sender, there are a few things you can do to ensure you make things simpler for them, starting with getting your RSVP in on time – whether you’re responding yes or no. And dare we say it… do not bring a date if the invite hasn’t allowed for a plus one! Please, it’s beyond poor manners! However, if the invite has specified a plus one, go a step further and let the host know their name. This will be a useful detail should they be using a door list, place cards or other personalised creations for the event.
If your circumstances change and you suddenly can’t attend, do let the host know as soon as possible. If you sadly cannot attend a wedding or event, informing the hosts may save them more than just disappointment, you may save them dollars. Letting them know weeks in advance may give them the opportunity to change their numbers, and cater accordingly.

So please, take these few simple steps and make sure you get your invitation etiquette right! In doing so you’ll find one of the most challenging aspects of running your event will become a whole lot easier. By being a little more proactive and becoming a respectful RSVP-er, you may just start to find a few more invitations in your mailbox. Or even better, you may find yourself on the host’s good side, and what a wonderful side that is!


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