If a hostess asks you to RSVP, invitations sent online pose a curious etiquette problem. Since the invitation was not written, what is the best way to respond to your hostess? Following these rules can save you from major embarrassment.
Consider the RSVP format. Many online invitation services include clear, helpful forms that are similar to hard-copy RSVP cards. If you fill out the form indicating whether or not you will attend and if you are bringing a guest, you are finished with your RSVP. You don't need to send an additional e-mail or an RSVP card.
However, if the invitation came in the form of an e-mail blast sent to multiple recipients, your reply will be more difficult since you don't have a handy form to fill out. Respond to the hostess indicating whether or not you are coming, how many guests you are bringing if you are allowed to bring guests, and any other information that was requested. For example, if the hostess needs to know any of your dietary restrictions for a buffet or potluck, be sure to note if you are a vegetarian or allergic to peanut products.
Don't get too informal. Even though you received the invitation online or an online RSVP was requested, follow the instructions. Either respond through the online invitation service or via e-mail. You could send an instant message or a text, but there's a chance that the hostess will miss your note, especially if she is not as tech-savvy as you are. You might also be tempted to use texting lingo in an instant message or text, which you might want to set aside when responding to an invitation for a formal event like a wedding.
Remember others might see what you write. Online invitation services often include space where you can leave a note, and many people use that note to explain why they can or cannot come. Whatever you write in that note is visible to others. If you aren't making the event because you don't get along with one of the other guests, do not mention it in the notes section. In fact, you are not obligated to write anything at all. If you feel a pressing need to let the hostess know why you cannot make it, you are better off sending a personal note via e-mail.
Along with the rules above, two major RSVP rules still apply online:
Reply early. No matter how casual the party, if the hostess has asked you to RSVP, that means she needs an accurate headcount.
Bring only those who are invited. Read the online invitation carefully, as some of them include a box that can let the hostess know if you are bringing a guest. Sometimes, online invitations include a list of those who were invited, so you can find out if your significant other or friend was also invited to avoid confusion.
"What does RSVP stand for?" is the most commonly asked question involving the RSVP cards that often appear in invitations to events. While this FAQ tackles that subject, it also answers other questions involving the delicate matter of RSVP etiquette.
Curious about proper RSVP etiquette? Not sure how to invite one person but not their children? How do you determine if an event is formal or dressy casual? These tips can help you get the right information to your guests.