Responding to a dinner invitation is a courtesy to your host. She will need to know how many places to set and how much food to prepare. Whether confirming your attendance or sending your regrets, an RSVP shows that the invitation is meaningful to you. No matter how formal the invitation is, from a text message to an elegant card, you should always honour your host with a response. Check your calendar and RSVP accordingly.
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Respond in the manner indicated on the invitation if there is an RSVP included. If a phone number is given, it is best to call rather than e-mail or respond in person, for example.
Evaluate the formality of the invitation if no RSVP is included. A wedding invitation, for instance, is very formal and usually requests a response. A birthday party invitation is less formal, and a phone call or e-mail is more casual still.
Respond in kind. For a formal event well in advance, a handwritten note is the proper response. For all other dinners, a phone call is sufficient. If the invitation was e-mailed, an e-mail response is appropriate.
Follow through with your RSVP. If you respond that you are able to attend, don't be a no-show. The only reasons to back out of a dinner you were invited to are illness or injury, personal tragedy or unavoidable professional conflict. Call your host immediately if you must change your response. Conversely, if you RSVP with regrets, don't show up unexpectedly, and don't call to change your response at the last minute. Having to prepare for an extra guest puts the host in a bind.
Tips and warnings
- Never bring an uninvited "plus one." It is also terribly rude to ask to bring someone along unless the dinner is fairly informal with close friends.
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