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What RSVP Nightmares Are You Living Through?

Why can't people just respond?

Until I started planning a ten-year anniversary party, I had almost forgotten what getting people to RSVP to our wedding was like. It wasn’t so much that people didn’t RSVP (though they didn’t), or that they RSVPed for a number of people that we hadn’t invited (they did). It was more the way, the minute it came to RSVPing, that people completely lost any sense of manners or decorum.

I remember feeling very emotionally sensitive in the moment of sending out the wedding invitations. We’d been planning this big, meaningful party for many months, and suddenly the time had come to let people in and hope they would understand what we were trying to do. I felt nervous, and a little bit raw. I hoped people would be kind.

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So, when I opened up our mailbox to find the RSVP card (from a family member David was close to) that just had “NO” scrawled across it, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. (Ten years later, I’ve settled on laugh, because who does that?)

As we went to plan our ten-year anniversary party/vow renewal, I figured the one thing that would be better for sure had to be RSVPs. Because now, you can have people RSVP online and have all the data drop automatically into a Google spreadsheet… and this is the dream, right? And I mean, yes. It is the dream. But for it to work, people still have to choose to RSVP. And a decade later, RSVP rates may have gotten worse—if that is even possible. But now, your loved ones leave little digital footprints. You can, online, watch them open up the invite…. and then not RSVP. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can send out multiple RSVP reminders and watch people go through the process over and over again. And then, as ever, you have to call or text people.

The super fun part about having to contact people for RSVPs is that it moves the emotional labor from them… right back to you. Suddenly you’re engaged in long conversations about ‘if they really think they can go, and what their vacation time looks like, and so many things to consider’ while you just wait there, thinking, “I JUST NEED TO CHECK YES OR NO AND GET THE HEADCOUNT TO THE CATERER MY CUT OFF IS TOMORROW, PLEASE.”

I like to imagine that once upon a time, there was some sort of genteel age where people responded to RSVPs… like, at all. Sometimes I like to imagine I live in that world. But it’s possible that world is nothing but a fantasy I made up.

How about you? How are you faring in the RSVP department? What RSVP drama have you been wanting to Lay on a sympathetic audience? Because I am here for you and for stories about this nonsense.

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