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Chapter 18. Put It in Writing > We Want to Attend, but We Don't Know How to Tel... - Pg. 190

Put It in Writing 190 RSVP--ASAP!! R.S.V.P. (also sometimes written as "R.s.v.p.") stands for " Répondez s'il vous plaît ," which is French for "Respond, please." Unfortunately for the hosts of formal events, it doesn't matter what language procrastinators speak; they don't seem to understand the importance of responding promptly to invitations. I remember the inconvenience caused by procrastinators in the last few days before my wedding as we scrambled to get a final guest list tally. Just about every large, formal affair has a few stragglers who wait until the last minute to reply to an invitation or who never bother to reply but show up anyway. By doing so, they set off a chain of events that inconveniences everyone, from the hosts, to the caterer, to the other guests. As life has become increasingly informal in recent decades, fewer and fewer invitations require a written reply. Many hosts of parties, corporate events, and other large functions ask that you reply by phone or even e-mail, or they enclose a reply card and self-addressed, stamped envelope with the invitation. Even invitations to formal weddings now usually come with reply cards and envelopes. While plenty of procrastinators manage to delay even something as simple as checking off the yes or no box and sticking the reply card in the mail, the bigger problem comes when a written response is called for. If an invitation asks you to reply but doesn't give a phone number to call, then a written response is expected. Matter of Fact Etiquette books aren't just for diplomats and social butterflies. Everybody should have one on hand when questions about social correspondence or other manners matters come up. Some of the best, by authors who know their fish fork from a fork in the road, include: The Amy Vanderbilt Book of Etiquette by Nancy Duckerman and Nancy Dunnan; Emily Post's Etiquette by Peggy Post; The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette by Mary Mitchell. We Want to Attend, but We Don't Know How to Tell You As with thankyou notes, some people put off sending written replies simply because they don't see any urgency in doing so, don't make it a priority, or don't schedule it into their daily routine. One of the biggest reasons for procrastinating over R.S.V.P.s, however, is that few people outside of dip- lomatic circles and the Palm Beach party circuit know how to write a proper written reply to a formal invitation. Out of fear of saying the wrong thing, they put off saying anything at all. There are two simple things you can do to rectify the situation. One is to invest in a good etiquette book which will show you how to write a correct reply. The other is to get used to referring to yourself in the third person (as you'll see in the formal reply that follows)! Etiquette books can walk you through the many slight variations acceptable for formal and informal replies, but the two examples here are standard ones that will at least give you a basic idea of how your responses should sound. Formal replies to an invitation mirror the wording and layout of the invitation: Mr. and Mrs. Dewitt Now