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Samara O'Shea Headshot

A Lesson in French and Manners

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I'm here on behalf of the brides. I attended five wonderful weddings this past summer--each elegant and eclectic in its own rite, and each complete with its own set of horror stories about people not R.S.V.Ping. At least three of my blushing bride friends had to resort to sending out a mass e-mail saying, "Seriously guys, I need a head count." And the others went so far as to call everyone they hadn't heard from.

For anyone who needs a refresher course: R.S.V.P. is an abbreviation for the French phrase, "Répondez, s'il vous plait," which translates simply into, "Please reply." I realize with the advent of electronic communication we've become careless with making plans in that we don't necessarily bother to make them anymore. What used to be, "I'll see you at 9:30 on Friday," is now, "I'll text you on Friday, and let you know where I am." (The underlined message being, "I don't want to commit because something better might come along). However, in my book a wedding is still an important enough event to get your scheduling act together, and it is a severe mark against both common courtesy and the couple themselves not to do so. I think it's especially impolite because other than, "The dog ate my envelope," there aren't many excuses. The R.S.V.P. card comes with a pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope. All the recipient is required to do is check yes or no, and if they check yes then they have to make the life altering decision between salmon and beef tenderloins.

I'll lighten up a little and say that maybe we really have stepped so far away from social protocols that people just don't know anymore. One of the aforementioned brides had a friend (a good friend), who she had to prompt twice for an answer. That friend said, "Oh, I thought since you didn't get the R.S.V.P. you knew I wasn't coming." It hadn't occurred to her that sending the card back saying she wasn't coming was part of the deal. My quick tip for dealing with wedding invites--respond immediately. As soon as you receive it, walk over to your calendar see what you have going on then put the card in the mail. If you respond yes quickly then it sends the message that you're really excited to attend the nuptials, and it also keeps you from forgetting about responding. If you respond no quickly then it sends the message that you are truly sorry you can't make it. Worse case scenario: you respond yes and something important comes up in-between. You can call your friend and explain that.

I also make a motion, not that I'm qualified to do such a thing but I'm not exactly sure who is, that we do away with the "R.S.V.P. Regrets Only" option. I say this with the event planners in mind. I fear there are many people out there like my friend's friend who will glaze over the "regrets only" and think because they can't attend they're absolved from responding at all. If you go so far as to assume those who haven't gotten back to you will be at the event then you may end up with a lot of food and drink and not a lot of people.

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