Mind Your Manners: If you get an invitation, respond promptly

It's that time of year! Weddings, baby showers, graduation parties galore!

Recently, my best friend called for advice concerning her daughter's wedding shower. She sent 35 invitations, six weeks before the event, and with only two weeks remaining, still hadn't heard from half of the invitees. Yes half! What's a mother-of-the bride to do? Call? Wait?

Let's set the record straight and solve the mystery of sending invites and the polite way to respond.

There are three types of invites, two being more casual: by phone or evite.

If you are invited to an event by phone, make every effort to check your calendar and commit yes or no on the spot. Otherwise, call back within one to two days.

An evite is a free social-planning website where you can create an online invitation, send it directly to your email contacts and then manage the guest list from your computer. It is efficient, economical and eco-friendly. People often ask me if they need to respond and the answer is yes, of course. The host needs to know so they plan for space, food and drinks. It is polite to respond to an evite within minutes or within one to two days. Keep in mind that once you open the evite on your computer, the host can see you viewed it. If you don't respond right away, the evite can get lost in your email. Try not to forget!

A more formal invitation is printed, mailed and comes with an obligation that requires your attention. RSVP means "respondez s'il vous plait" (French) meaning "please reply." It is courteous to respond within a few days in the manner the host requests, either by phone, email or in writing on the reply card. Don't wait thinking you may get a better invite or simply aren't sure. Something of this high level, when a formal invite is mailed, requires prompt attention.

Once you respond that you are attending, you should not cancel unless you are sick, injured (took a bad fall) or there is a death in the family. If you must cancel, do so right away and apologetically.

Invitations are sent to the guests the hosts want to see and spend special time with. Never bring a guest or even ask to bring one unless the invitation specifically mentions "and guest."

With an invitation, put yourself in the host's shoes. An accurate count on attendance is needed well in advance to plan for an event. A host should never have to call an invited guest. It's uncomfortable and time consuming. Respond promptly and without hesitation and be assured that you will remain on the guest list for years to come!

Diane Massey is director and founder of The Berkshire School of Etiquette & Business Protocol. She trained at the American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Ga. Her sought-after seminars empower individuals with the knowledge and skills of modern day etiquette to take action personally and professionally with confidence and courtesy, in a spirit of cooperation and awareness of others, every day in every way. www.berkshireschoolofetiquette.com.


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