Why Don't People RSVP??

Updated on October 26, 2013
M.H. asks from Saint Paul, MN
25 answers

So, this is mostly a rant, but why don't people RSVP when the invitation specifically requests to do so by a certain date? We are having a fairly expensive milestone birthday party at a restaurant for my husband this weekend. Because we need to provide numbers for the food I put in the invitation to respond by a certain date and gave them two easy ways--email or my cell phone. Fewer than 1/3 replied! I've been trying to contact people and one person "lost the invitation," but didn't follow up with me (a neighbor who already has all of my contact info) and one "just didn't RSVP yet" in her own words, despite the deadline of three days ago. I kind of expected some RSVP issues, but not to this extent. I know some people erroneously think it means "regrets only," but that doesn't explain the people who said they are coming but hadn't responded. It's not a surprise party and that was made clear so there are no issues about ruining the surprise. I'm having a stressful work week and although the idea of a party was my husband's the restaurant location was mostly mine to try to ease the stress and responsibility. But now I'm dealing with the lack of RSVPs! Anyone else have this issue?

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So What Happened?

It was a paper/snail mail invite, not electronic. I have been trying to follow-up with as many people as possible, but I don't have all of their personal contact info because they are my husband's friends and colleagues, some of them long term. My husband is out of the country on business right now. It's too expensive to just assume they are all going to be there. I'm just going to have to wing it and hope for the best , but it's frustrating! Some of them aren't even responding to the follow-up call or email, including a cousin!

Post-party ETA: It all worked out and we had a very nice party. The restaurant manager was very experienced in these issues and worked with us on the numbers and the menu. I was having a very stressful week for a variety of reasons, the party was just the tip of the iceberg, and a few of the comments I received after making the effort to contact people just put me over the edge. A cousin had to be contacted 2-3 times before he let us know that all three of his family members were coming. But my husband was happy to see them. I've learned several lessons about RSVPs!

Featured Answers



answers from Detroit on

I do not get it. I RSVP the day it comes in the mail. I could not imagine not doing so!!!!!
Some parents can invite 10 kids to a party and pay a big fee if 11 show up. I cannot imagine not letting them know. How rude!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Because people are irresponsible, rude and self centered. Sad to say. I always respond the day I get it whether it be electronically or thru the mail.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I just had some major RSVP issues for my son's birthday! We did custom tie-dyed shirts for each kid for party favors, so I asked people for RSVPs with T-shirt sizes. If I got that, it would tell me that someone is buying a T-shirt for my kid. Call me crazy. Anyway, I had SIX positive RSVPs that did not show up (4 families). I did have two extras come at the last minute, but it bugged me that I had made the effort to get shirts for their kids, in the correct sizes that they gave to me, and then they did not show up. A text takes two seconds, people...

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

In my experience with event planning and personal entertaining, usually no RSVP means they aren't coming. A few may simply forget or be ignorant about the social graces, but most of the time, very few people who didn't rsvp ever show up. For a medium or large size event, there are almost always a few who have to cancel at the last minute, so it evens out. Restaurants, hotels, country clubs usually prepare a certain percentage of extra food to accommodate last minute changes.

One thing you can do to encourage these same people to RSVP to future events that you host is this: have place cards. Those who show up with no RSVP will have just enough embarrassment to realize they had to be tacked on to an extra table somewhere, that maybe they'll remember that and let you know in the future!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

People are asshats.
Or, they've never thrown a party.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I disagree with all of the mamas who say to call and ask if they are coming. I say call and leave a message or email saying how sorry you are that they decided to not come. If they respond saying that they are indeed coming, then you can act surprised that they did not RSVP and tell them gee golly glad to know that you say you're coming because I told the caterers the guest number. Let me see if I can add you at the last minute...

If they do not respond to the message or email, then don't plan on their attendance.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't understand it either. It's thoughtless and rude to not take a minute to let a host know whether or not you're coming. Sure, we've all had that time once or twice when we truly forgot about receiving an invite, but I know that after frantically RSVPing late the second time that happened, I made it a point to RSVP right when I receive an invite, even if the answer is "I truly don't know right now and have to get back to you" and then I make it a point to follow up again before the due date (calendar reminder to myself, etc.).

It drive me nuts when people don't RSVP for something that's obviously not a casual event and where an accurate headcount is needed. This isn't cake and ice cream in the back yard! FWIW I had people not RSVP to my wedding. Really?! Yeah, because that's what a bride needs to be doing the week before getting married, follow up with inconsiderate people who couldn't drop a pre-addressed, pre-posted card in the mail...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

If they are not responding to your follow up call, I would expect they are not coming and would not reserve a seat or plate for them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

It's a huge pet peeve of mine. I just assume that no RSVP means they aren't coming. Just submit the confirmations you have and pay for a few extra. There will always be the one or two that show up even after no RSVPing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Oh, haven't you heard? It's out of fashion! Nobody should have to put themselves out to respond to an invitation! It's just an invitation, after all, not something *important*. You should have the right to go or not if you feel like it, even at the last minute, and the hosts should be able to read your mind.

But seriously...

Attempt once more (out of kindness) to contact the non-RSVP-ers by phone or e-mail. Say (in a friendly way), "I sent an invitation to you a couple of weeks ago, and I haven't heard back. If I don't hear from you by [for instance] 10:00 tonight, I'll assume you're not coming." Then, based on the number of guests you have at the deadline time, reserve the food.

It might be a smaller party than you expected, but those who care about it will be there, and you all will have a great time. And if someone calls later and says, "Golly, I forgot to get back to you! I know it's tonight but I'd really like to come...?" you can say, "I'm sorry you forgot. Maybe we can do something with you another time."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Some do..some don't. I think if it is a super important RSVP event then in the future list that at the top of your invite. We are all inundated with tons of info from so many angles and so many people just skim through and don't read all the details. Not saying it is right..just that is what happens :(

Next time make the RSVP jump out at the beginning. At the heading list something like this....

"I need to know if you are coming so a place is reserved for you. Call or email by______date to reserve a seat at the table. We hope you can come!"

Then go into the details of the event. Not too wordy..just the essentials.

Currently I am in charge of buying about 7 gifts on behalf of a large group. I sent an email asking who would like to be part of the group gift, the small amount needed, and that I needed to know by a certain day so I would know how much money I was working with.

5 out of 20 families responded. Then I sent out a follow up saying it was their last chance to jump on board. Then I heard from the other 15. Most of their responses were, "I am sorry I didn't respond it was a busy week, or " I thought you knew I would particpate." I wasn't mad..but it just shows that people are busy and don't read through all emails..and they assume you know what they are thinking. This was a voluntary task I took on because some parents talked about it being a great idea if the whole group chipped in a few bucks to get all the leaders nice "Thank You" gifts.

Good luck and hope it turns out to be a fabulous birthday party for your husband..you are a sweet wife to put this all together for him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have stopped asking for RSVP (respondez s'il vous plait?) Instead, I write:" let us know if you will be able to come: yea or nay is fine, please let us know either way." Sometimes you have to write things twice.

I don't know why people are becoming less gracious in answering invitations. I do always answer the RSVP.

Wondering, but perhaps the informality of the eVite causes people to scroll through their email, make the mental note, and then get distracted? We have been using paper invitations for Kiddo's parties-- the kids like them and are more likely to talk about it with their parents.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

I don't know. I am just going to assume that most people are incapable of either reading or following simple directions. Ugh. Sorry, it's been a dumb day and I just read 10 emails in a row from supposed adults that are unable to do a simple task...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

well because our society is not as formal as it once was...and i think people for the most part are not as polite and gracious...

i have had better success with evite than paper invitations.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

People are absurdly self centered. You're busy yet find time to throw a party that they should enjoy and they don't have 20 seconds to let you know if they can come?? Ridiculous. For people you have their email, I would send one saying if I don't hear by 9pm tonight, I will assume you are not coming. For people you have phone numbers and have time to call, say that in a VM. People you can't contact other than snail mail, assume they're not coming and if they show, say you're sorry but you never heard so assumed they'd weren't coming. Maybe they can go dine in the restaurant on their own and join you later. I honestly would be kind of happy to do that to these incredibly rude people. Get even. ;) If you don't have an email or phone # for them, they can't be really good friends so who cares if it's the last time you see them. You could try whitepages.com though btw to get their home # at least. Also, if you have a mutual friend (or family for that cousin) but not their email address specifically, send an email and say please forward to xyz and then be done with it. I definitely don't invite people who are lame about rsvping anymore. They can't rsvp, no more invitiations. Or I have one friend who is always a "maybe". It's for a big party we throw but I've had enough of that too. I still need to plan food... Be glad if it's smaller. You and your husband will get way more time to really visit with the people who are there and matter. And it'll be cheaper!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It seems that people are becoming more and more self-absorbed, and probably feel that they just don't have to show consideration for others. In this time of electronic conversations, they probably just don't even have phone etiquette enough to make sure they place that call. It's sad that today, we don't get to talk to people in person; it's always a recording. Conversation, even to make a simple call to say, "Yes", or "No" is almost a thing of the past. I agree with some of the others, though, and just let it go. I hope it didn't ruin your evening.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It's rude and there is no way around it. Sorry.

recruit close friends to help you call everyone. maybe that will help your stress level?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

No one RSVP's anymore. They just don't. I plan on everyone coming then if they don't we have lots of leftovers. In this situation my way would not work plus it would cost of lot more...

Call each person on the list. Tell them you need an answer now. This way you will know if they are coming or not. Next time don't send out invitations. Make up a guest list and call them. Ask them to come. Then a week before the party send out a reminder to only those who said they'd come.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

Only one person RSVP-ed for my daughter's birthday party last year. I don't know why people don't RSVP. Maybe they get busy and just forget. Maybe they don't know if they are going to be able to make it until the last minute. It is annoying but such is life.

I admit that I am guilty of sometimes not responding to party invitations if I am not planning on attending. I just assume that the person will realize that my lack of communication means I'm not going to show. So, yeah, I'm rude. I should do better.

I do respond to formal invitations (weddings, 50th anniversary, etc.) with a yea or a nay but not to birthdays. I think it is because I am oblivious to the expense that some people will put into those parties. We don't do big adult birthday celebrations and we keeps the kids' parties pretty low key.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Via snail mail, it might take me forever to respond. I tend to respond to Evites within a day or two.

If you send out a snail mail invite, make sure they can email or text the RSVP. That will increase your %. Regardless, I really prefer being able to press the "Yes" button on evites, rather than having to send out a new email/text with an RSVP. And, yes, I'm a horrible correspondent in general.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

People are just rude! No other reason than just being rude and inconsiderate! They know if a head count is needed when food and drink is being covered by the host so why not let the host know if you are coming so that they are not wasting their money??? I don't understand it either. In the future, require your RSVP a week in advance. That way, you can do follow up calls / texts 3 days 4 days prior to your response date to your venue. This may relieve some of the stress for your next event.


answers from Chicago on

I have been late on an RSVP because I was not sure due to a possible double booking. I called on the latest day possible. Many of the RSVP's I get have the phrase "Regrets Only" included, I think as a possible solution. I do try to call/text/email when I get the invite, but sometimes people are not always comfortable, esp. if the host or contact person is someone they don't know.



answers from Minneapolis on

no rsvp..no food-only worry about the ones that responded..and geeeeze relax..not worth getting yourself all freaked out over...go have fun forget em...



answers from Wausau on

On Tuesday, my son brought home an invite for a Halloween party on Saturday with an RSVP of today. The invites were handwritten by a child and RSVP number on ours card was wrong! I finally got the number from a friend of a friend and responded just in time. That was nerve wracking! I always try to RSVP right away.

Sometimes, people honestly forget or misplace the invite, but most often people that don't respond are just lazy or rude.


answers from Dover on

Very frustrating. Especially when you invite 100 people and only 15 or so reply. You don't know which of the remaining 85 are planning to come but didn't reply or aren't planning to come....some figure "They know I am coming" while others are of the thought "I didn't say I was coming so they know I am not"...meanwhile the host is thinking "Am I having only 15 people, 100 people, or somewhere in between".

Unfortunately, I don't know why they don't reply because every person is different. I have family that rarely reply because they also say "you know we'll be there if nothing comes up" so they don't reply "in case something comes up".

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