What's the best way to respond?
Always reply as instructed on the invitation. For more informal events like baby showers or birthday parties, you may simply be asked to respond by phone or email.
Wedding invitations are usually accompanied by a response card. Fill out the card accordingly and mail it back by the RSVP date at the very latest. Of course, it's best to send it back within 1-3 days of receiving the invitation.
Sometimes your hostess will request that you respond only if you cannot attend. If you don't RSVP with your regrets, your presence is expected.
What if my circumstances change?
It is considered rude to cancel unless you or a family member is sick, there has been a death or family emergency, or you have a work conflict that simply cannot be avoided. Let the host know immediately that you have to change your plans.
It's considered very rude if you simply don't show up at the party after responding 'yes.'
Sometimes it's possible to change a 'no' response to a 'yes' after speaking with the host, but you should be considerate. In many cases it could be too late for the host to accommodate last-minute additions.
Can I bring someone with me?
- Unless you're very close to the party host or you just enjoy being a social pariah, it's rude to even ask this question. Invitations are extended to the person or persons listed only. There really aren't any exceptions to this rule.
- If your children or other family members are invited to attend, the invite will list them by name or say something like "Mr. and Mrs. James Johnson and family."
- If the invitation is addressed to you and a guest, include your guest's name in your response.
- If you have an out-of-town guest and don't wish to leave them out, it's best to decline the invitation and let your host know why. They may extend an additional invitation, and they may not, but this keeps you from appearing presumptuous.
If you have any doubts at all about the appropriate thing to do, it's hard to go wrong with the golden rule. Think about how you would wish to be treated if you were planning a wedding, a birthday party, or a shower and needed to know how many people to expect.