R.s.v.p.

The concept of an R.s.v.p. is well understood but the art of accepting an invitation is a bit more muddled.  'R.s.v.p.' is short for 'Répondez, s'il vous plaît,' which means "Respond, if you please" or "Please reply."  It is a full sentence which begins with a capital letter and continues in sentence format.  For that reason, the abbreviation is 'R.s.v.p' and never 'R.S.V.P.'  

In the context of a wedding, an R.s.v.p. is never solicited for an invitation to a church ceremony and a response is never required.  But is commonly, if not always, requested for a reception.  If you have been extended an invitation to a wedding, it is most 'correct' to provide a reply on your own house stationery, using the format discussed below.  It's common these days, however, for a bride to include an R.s.v.p. card in her invitation suite.  In that case it's absolutely appropriate (and more polite!) to follow the bride's lead and send in the card she's requested.  A modern R.s.v.p. card may only require a check mark in a (brilliantly letterpressed) box indicating 'yes' or 'no'.  It's fine to simply fill in your checkmark and mail in the response card, but I would include a personal note on the back.  The purpose of the more formal R.s.v.p. format is to convey how honored the recipient of the invitation is to attend the upcoming event.  A simple note saying 'Thank you - we are so pleased to be invited!' can't hurt anyone.  

Here is the formal language of acceptance to a wedding or formal event (an abbreviated version of which is pictured above):

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Delano White
accept with pleasure
the kind invitation of
Mr. and Mrs. Bourne
to the marriage of their daughter
Ann Stuyvesant
to
Mr. George Baker Ellis
on Wednesday, the third of March
at half after four o'clock
127 East Sixty-seventh Street

An alternate form for answering an invitation is:

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Delano White
accept with pleasure
the kind invitation of
Mr. and Mrs. Bourne
for
on Wednesday, the third of March
at half after four o'clock

If you intend to send your regrets to an invitation, use exactly the same form as above, replacing 'accept with pleasure' and 'the kind invitation of' with 'regret that they are unable to attend' and 'the very kind invitation of.' In the event of a regret, it is more polite to stress the kindness of the person who has sent the invitation.  It is also unnecessary to recite the time and place of the event.

An invitation should always be responded to in the form it is received.  If you receive an invitation by letter or paper invitation, you should always send your acceptance or regrets through the mail.  If the invitation is sent by email or phone call, return your reply via email or phone call, respectively.  Invitations, except the most casual, should not be sent by text message.  If you receive an invitation by text message (such as an invitation to a dinner date from a beau), why not throw him for a loop and give him a ring to let him know your reply?  Maybe that will teach 'em!

Wishing you many upcoming invitations!  And lots of fun writing out your replies!

x.

 

Postscript - We will be featuring a matter of etiquette each Wednesday!  If you have an etiquette enquiry of any sort, please send us a note at hello@anniedean.com or through the Correspondence page.  We'd love to hear from you!

(The R.s.v.p. card pictured here is a custom response card designed and produced by Mr. Boddington's Studio (http://www.mrboddington.com/) which was included in our wedding invitation suite last year.  We included a blank card so that guests could provide their formal replies - and a few did!  In addition to an invitation to the wedding, hosted by my parents, the invitation suite also included an invitation to a rehearsal dinner hosted by Peter's family.  We received some reponses written on house stationery to that event, which is the most correct way to provide a reply (being that responses meant for two different hosts shouldn't be included on the same response card).  We didn't think of that!  But I can't slip much past my family!)