Honor thy RSVP

Stop costing people money — show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T to your commitments.

Event planners often warn clients about the no-shows.

Depending on the event, 10 percent to 20 percent of the people who RSVP with a “yes” might not show up to your celebration.

I remember that when I was planning my wedding, my grandmother insisted that I invite a neighbor because she didn’t want bad blood on the block. I was already on a tight budget, but I relented and extended an invitation to the older neighbor, who I didn’t know well. The woman and her husband responded that they would attend the reception.

They did not show up.

Not only that, they never even offered an explanation for their absence. And they had company. There was an entire table of 10 that was empty because of the no-shows — friends and relatives. None of them provided a good reason for reneging on the RSVP.

My husband and I paid for our own wedding and reception. We had saved for a year. Looking at those empty seats made me furious, because had we known — even up to a few days before the reception — that those folks were not coming, we could have cut our expenses.

I had contemplated sending all the absentees an invoice for the missed meals. Of course, this would have been a breach of etiquette. (No, you can’t send the bad-mannered guests a bill.)

Some of my readers have also been forced to deal with this issue. One father of the bride, who was cutting the checks for the wedding and reception, was particularly disturbed by the reasons people gave for not showing up.

“My favorite was the couple who told my daughter and son-in-law, ‘Oh, we didn’t come because someone else asked us to go to a party at the last minute and we thought it would be more fun.’ ”

Any gracious host understands that something can come up at the eleventh-hour that is out of your control, especially for events that are months out. You get sick or your child becomes ill, and those are valid reasons to back out of an accepted invitation. You got into a car accident and you didn’t want to upstage the couple with questions and concerns about your full-length body cast. Fair enough.

This should not have to be said, but it’s rude and inconsiderate to say that you’ll attend an event and then just decide you don’t want to go.

Stop wasting people’s money. People budget based on the responses they receive. Don’t increase their expenses just to “keep your options open.”

But maybe your mama didn’t teach you some manners. So, let’s go over the rules for an RSVP.

Honor your word. If you RSVP yes, show up. Because we receive so many invitations via electronic means — email, Evite or Facebook — there might be the tendency to not treat the invitation as formally as one delivered by postal mail. But the method by which you received the invitation doesn’t matter. Hosts should be able to count on you being a person of your word.

Every event matters. Certainly a wedding is a big deal. But so are other celebrations small or large. Whether it’s a birthday party for a tiny tot or a family dinner, if you say you’re coming, don’t ghost the host. (For those who don’t know, “ghosting” is when someone disappears without any warning or explanation.)

Give notice. If you RSVP “yes” but then can’t attend for whatever reason — lame or legitimate — send your regrets as soon as possible. Don’t leave the host to wonder what happened. Don’t be a coward.

By the way, call the host. Don’t send a text, email or message through Facebook.

Offer an apology. I hosted a small dinner party last year. One guest said he was on his way but then never showed up. We waited about an hour to start dinner, thinking he was perhaps caught in traffic. Another no-show only said she wasn’t coming after I tried to contact her. But she didn’t answer my call. I found out she bailed because she sent a text to another person who was at the dinner.

Neither of the no-shows ever apologized.

No surprise appearance. Showing up unexpectedly is almost as bad as a no-show. A seasoned host will often prepare or order extra food and drinks, but that’s not always the case or even possible. You show up having not bothered to RSVP, and now there’s not enough food for everyone. Yet you’ll be the first in line to grab the big piece of fried chicken.

This isn’t just about the money. Obviously the host valued your presence because you got an invitation. So, show a little RSVP respect.

— Washington Post Writers Group

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