In Any Event 

Make a planner’s day with répondez s’il vous plait

RSVP stands for “répondez, s’il vous plait,” but you don’t have to speak French to follow the simple request to please reply to an invitation.

Amanda Shell Jennings
Amanda Jennings

Invitees to events should not treat RSVP instructions as an optional response. Planners need a head count that is as accurate as possible to ensure the event is properly staffed and has enough food, drink and space for attendees.

“Having an accurate head count is important on many levels,” said Amanda Jennings, a senior account executive for Moxley Carmichael and frequent event planner.

“Obviously, you need to know how much food and drink to order. The guest list also affects things like preparation of name tags and space layout. The importance of responding to an invitation cannot be overstated.”

However, event planners know they have to be prepared to adjust with or without RSVPs, so Jennings offers these helpful tips:

Talk to your caterer.

Be sure to find out when the caterer needs a confirmed head count, as that date should drive the RSVP deadline.

Additional tip for invitees: While calling to say whether or not you’re attending on the day of the event may seem a little better than not responding at all, it is far too late to make adjustments on food and drink orders – especially if you bring guests.

Well-attended events, such as L’Amour du Vin at the Knoxville Museum of Art, run smoothly because of the work done ahead of time. (Blue Streak photo)

Allow some wiggle room in the RSVP deadline.

Set the reply deadline a few days before the caterer needs a confirmed head count. This extra time can be used to make phone calls or send emails to secure responses before committing to a food order that could cost your organization or client extra money.

An accurate estimate of the number of guests has a positive impact on your event. Too much food is money you can’t recover. Too little food is a bad guest experience.

A beautifully set table – this one at Blackberry Farm for an annual fundraiser for the Knoxville Symphony – begins with the RSVP process. (Blue Streak photo)

Follow up.

As stated above, following up by phone or email often is a necessary step for event planners to get a better idea of attendance. As a general rule, phone calls are the best way to get the responses you need in a timely manner.

Now that we’ve covered a few RSVP basics, we would like to hear from event planners. Please share your tales of woe or tips for success when it comes to securing RSVPs in the comment section below.

For those on the receiving end of an invitation, Cynthia Moxley offers some great advice in this Blue Streak post.

So when you see RSVP, please reply.

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