What Does RSVP Mean on an Invite?

You probably know what it means, but can you answer the question, “What does RSVP stand for?”

If you’ve ever hosted a big event like a wedding, you know how important getting RSVPs from all your guests is—wedding etiquette 101. It determines how much food you’ll need to order, how many tables and chairs you’ll need, and how to set up the seating chart so your bickering aunts aren’t right next to each other. Getting those little checked-off note cards back is a pretty big deal. What does RSVP mean though?

This four-letter acronym is one of many acronym examples that many people are unaware of. Even we get confused on the basics of acronyms vs. abbreviations as it can pretty tricky! To avoid any bumps in the road, learning what RSVP stands for and the logistics surrounding it can be extremely beneficial. Grab your invitation and pay close attention, then you can go off and enjoy the celebration worry-free! After you learn what RSVP stands for, you might want to learn what “p.s.” stands for, too.

What does RSVP stand for?

RSVP is actually a French expression meaning répondez s’il vous plait. That translates to “please respond.” If you ever get an invitation in the mail that includes a request for you to RSVP, it means that the host of the event is asking for you to let them know whether or not you will be able to attend.

When to RSVP

Congratulations! You’ve been invited to an event and received your handy little slip with “RSVP” on it. While mail can get tossed and lost in piles of other not-so-fun mail, it’s important to keep this one aside and know exactly when to send it back. RSVPs are typically due by a certain time period to allow for the hosts to plan accordingly for your arrival. These are hard deadlines so make sure to either do it as soon as possible or make a note of its due date!

Lucky for you, most of the time you have wiggle room on when you can turn it in. Your host(s) will send it out weeks in advance to give you plenty of time to check your calendar and clear up some time for you to attend. This gives you an average of 4-5 weeks to respond! Just in case you were wondering, we also break down what GIF stands for and how to pronounce it.

How to RSVP properly

Typical RSVPs come with a stamped and addressed envelope as well as a card for you to record your response on. But more and more RSVPs are being sent through the web and allow you to respond with one click. RSVP cards vary depending on the event and card itself as some include checkboxes or require a message!

Three elements are typically associated with RSVP cards: names, number of guests, and a personalized note. Not all RSVP cards look the same, so before filling anything out, read through its entirety so you understand what needs to be filled out! Some cards will come filled out for you where little detail from yourself needs to be added or a response card will be provided that you must fill out yourself completely (these often come with a prompt on what to write so don’t worry)!

Before sending it out make sure you include the following: Your name, names of those in your party, a personal note (if space is permitted), allergies, and entree choice (if given).

If you cannot attend don’t ignore it, fill it out! It’s always best to be honest with the host about your plans—having some kind of answer is better than nothing. Many people don’t RSVP because they don’t want to hurt the host’s feelings. An unanswered RSVP usually ends up being more of an inconvenience than a simple “no” would have been. Some RSVP cards say “Regrets Only” on them. If you see that, it means you only have to send a response if you can’t attend. Don’t send the RSVP card back if you can attend—even if you want to show your excitement about the event—because that may confuse the host. Contact them in a different way to show your enthusiasm.

Can you change your RSVP?

It’s easy to block off a day and time in your schedule for an event in the future. While you may have excitedly said yes to attending an event, something unexpected can arise leaving you unable to go anymore. If you find out plans have changed, it’s important to make the hosts aware of the situation in a delicate manner and explain as soon as you possibly can. They’ll appreciate you telling them! Now, find out what “Ms.” stands for.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.