The months leading up to our wedding, my wife took on a countless numbers of crafts and tasks. So when I asked her to assign me something so I could lend a hand, a maniacal grin spread across her face, "Okay then. You take care of tracking the RSVPs." I let out a yawn and shrugged it off. How hard could it be? Our friends wouldn't let us down. All that was required of them was to check a box, place it in the prepaid envelope, and send it back with a stack of overdue Netflix DVDs.
I'd quickly come to learn that a chunk of my buddies were completely clueless when it came to RSVP etiquette: these college educated, career-established, late-twenty-something year olds suddenly turned into a bunch of glossy-eyed Ralph Wiggums. I couldn't believe I was actually going to have hunt down each and every one of these drunk kittens to see if they were planning (or not planning) on attending my wedding.
Hitting a little too close to home? For all of those inebriated felines out there, I'm here to help. Let's get it together by mastering the simplest, and yet for some reason, most difficult, wedding task to execute: RSVPing.
1. Do it.
RSVPing to a wedding is not an option. Are you planning to attend? RSVP. Have you already told your friend via gchat last week that you were coming? RSVP. Are you the best man and therefore, it's obvious, you are attending? RSVP. Are you planning to go but you might pull the ripcord and bail if your buddy Griff comes through with those backstage Coachella tickets? RSVP. Preferably declining, because... well... screw you.
It's really that simple.
Really, as Adult Humans, you should RSVP for any invitation you receive - whether it's to taco night or Trevor's Lord-of-The-Rings marathon, but even more so for a wedding. The most common excuse I heard for not RSVPing is "well, I thought I already told you I probably couldn't make it!" That's what the "regretfully declining" box is there for, pal.
For my wedding, I had to track down a buddy of mine who I was pretty sure was going to attend, but I hadn't received his formal RSVP. This was our conversation:
Me: Dave, you still plan on coming to this thing?
Dave: Yeah. I told you I was.
Me: Saying "Yeah, of course, bro" while sipping a Coors Light at a barbeque two months ago does not qualify as RSVPing. I also need to know what meal you plan on eating.
Dave: Oh right. Well, what are my options?
Still confused? Here's an easy alliteration: Don't Do what Dave Did.
2. Don't assume you get to bring a date
Never assume - the exception being if you're married or in a long term relationship (note: we're talking actually long term here - this isn't extended to that girl you drunkenly smooched in front of the Bellagio fountain, but swear you "had a connection" with). If that's the case, you can be pretty sure your significant other has been accounted for. However, if you're still unsure, the front of your invite envelope is the first indication of whether or not the bride and groom are cool with you bringing someone. Is your name the only one listed? If so, you're doing this solo. Still not sure? Pick up that sweet, sweet, A-2 card-stock. Does it say "____ out of 2"? If so, congratulations, that's a green light to Plus One Plaza.
If you're still scratching your head, it might be okay to pick up the phone and ask - but just get ready to be shot down. Those $70/plate grilled halibuts ain't cheap.
3. If your date can't make it, don't automatically assume you can bring a replacement.
This is really an extension of rule number two. If your fiancé happens to come down with a nasty case of bird flu and you feel like having your "really fun" coworker fill that empty seat: think again. Golden rule about weddings: every attendee comes with a price tag and the bride and groom don't usually take kindly to substitutions. If you still plan on attending without your S.O, you should anticipate going into this gunfight without a Sundance Kid. (The exception being if your invitation was addressed to "Your Name +1" - then you can bring whoever you want.)
If you only take away one rule from the three I listed above, please let it be number one. No matter what, you need to respond. This isn't like those obnoxious Facebook invites from that old coworker begging you to go see his experimental band play every fourth Saturday of the month. You can't hit "Yes" without any intention of showing up.
Trust me, when it's your turn to throw your own matrimony party, you'll understand why taking the thirty-five seconds to seal and send that envelope is crucial. And if you're planning a wedding, don't use too much of your energy getting rattled if people don't RSVP (you're gonna want to save that for constructing an infinite string of circle garlands). Rogue RSVPers are inevitable. So, just do what I did and just start sending emails titled "YCOW" with one line inside: You Coming Or What?
Follow Brandon Hoang on Twitter: www.twitter.com/brandonhoang_