Literally translated from French, RSVP — or répondez, s'il vous plaît — means "please reply," and most hosts will add this to an invitation as a request for a reply to let them know if you can attend the event. But unlike replying to a paper invitation, which doesn't require much more than sending back a reply card or making a quick phone call by the RSVP date, there are other things to consider when RSVP'ing to an electronic invite.
Always respond to an invitation. This confirms you've received the invitation, and regardless of whether it's a formal celebration such as a wedding, a casual get-together like a game night or any other party, your hostess needs a "yes" or "no" answer so she can finish planning the event. Don't say maybe if you really mean no; this is unfair, as she will likely still count you in as a "yes" until you tell her otherwise. If you legitimately mean maybe and just can't commit right now, then politely ask if you can let her know at a later date.
It's easy to let an online invitation slide and get lost in an overcrowded inbox or event calendar, so if you have a definite "yes" or "no" reply, you should respond promptly and before the RSVP date. This serves two purposes: It's the courteous thing to do, and it will help clear off your to-do list.
Generally speaking, an invitation through social media or a social-planning website will allow you to make additional comments when you reply. But if you choose to add to your reply, make sure to keep it simple. While it's perfectly acceptable to clarify party information, ask what you should bring or briefly explain why you are unable to attend, for example, remember that all the invitees will be able to see your comments. So after you reply to the invitation, if you have something more to say of a personal or private nature, it's best to simply send a personal email or to phone your host.
Most online invitations make party-planning easy and will keep track of the RSVPs for the host, so always reply through the proper channel. For instance, when an email invitation is sent from a social-planning website like Evite, make sure you reply to the invitation itself and not the email notification. Or if you were invited to an event via a social network like Facebook, RSVP to the invitation and not with an instant or private message. On a related note, if the invitation is sent via a group email, it's not necessary to "reply to all." Just reply to your hostess, as this will keep from cluttering up other inboxes and keep your conversation private.
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