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Mitzvah Manners: Please RSVP!

Mitzvah Manners: Please RSVP!

By Lisa Gaché, Beverly Hills Manners, Inc.

The act of RSVPing has been on my mind a lot lately. More than ever I hear friends and associates complaining about other people not responding to their personal invitations. It has not seemed to make one iota of difference whether the invitation was to a small baby shower or a big charitable fundraiser, the consensus seems to be that people in general have forgotten common courtesy and the inclination to respond in a timely manner.

According to a recent statistic more than 80% of personal invitations receive no response at all! That’s a big chunk missing! One step above the nonresponders, are those that do us a favor by RSVPing at the very last minute as if we should be thrilled they are gracing us with their presence. I think it’s no surprise that people everywhere are starting to get upset and, in some cases, developing a “talk to you never” attitude towards the nonresponsive recipient.

The fact that we’re living in a technological age only adds fuel to the fire. When we think of all the different types of invitations we are inundated with on a daily basis from social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to electronic invitations sites such as Evite and Ping, not to mention the handwritten invitations for birthday parties or charity events that we receive by mail, how is any sane person able to keep track of it all and respond accordingly? The answer may simply be that we need to instill better organization and time management skills, but the point we are trying to make is, anyone who has taken the time to invite us or include us in their celebrations, events and other festivities, no matter which form of communication they use to invite us, deserves a response either way.

What do you do when guests you have invited to your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration fail to respond by the appointed RSVP date? I would suggest the following:

Call. A person who is well-mannered gives people the benefit of the doubt. It behooves no one to stand on ceremony and risk the wrong headcount, especially for an event as important as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Rather than work yourself into a tizzy, it is safe to assume that in this 24/7 frenetic world that an occasional invitation may get misplaced or a calendar may not be properly marked. Bite the bullet and call your guest on the phone, no emailing. You want to hear the response in their voice and feel their emotion. With any luck, they will be showering you with their most sincere apologies for their accidental oversight.

I think it is perfectly fine to “leave it alone” if the party is casual in nature and the number of guests has no direct bearing on the amount of food, decorations or party favors. Since this is rarely the case with a Bar/Bat Mitzvah reception, it is up to the host to chase down their guests and address the issue.

This is not brain surgery! Accepting social invitations should not be a chore, it should be fun. It is actually a compliment. An invitation received is proof that you are likable and that people want to be in your presence, and that’s a good thing, right?

The truth of the matter is you DO take the time to respond to those invitations that interest you and you DO so in a timely manner. Therefore by not responding or waiting to respond, you are sending an indirect (or direct) message to the invitee that they are not that important or worthy of your immediate attention. Feelings get hurt, people get offended and in some cases entire relationships are severed because the invitee felt ignored and disrespected.

To read more of Lisa’s RSVP rules, check out her blog.


Posted in Mitzvah Spotlight, Expert