What is RSVP?
RSVP stands for rÃ©pondez s’il vous plait, a French phrase which literally means ‘please respond’ or ‘reply please’. This is a note that is appended to invitations which means that the host for the event would like to know if you are receiving or declining the invitation. Loosely, the host is then essentially asking you, ‘are you coming or not’? Etiquette dictates that invitees should respond immediately after the invitation, because the RSVP reply will usually help the host in planning, i.e. for how many people he/she needs to be preparing for. Many invitations, especially in bigger affairs such as weddings, will usually include an RSVP card that the invitee can fill in and mail.
In the late 18th century, English high society followed the French model for etiquette (the word is actually derived from the French word for ‘tickets’ which were issued by the French royal courts as a sort of rules card for court behavior). Anyone who received an invitation with RSVP on it was obliged to reply lest he wanted to be tagged rude. In the olden days, RSVP responses were mostly made through a note delivery (or more recently post mail), but with the technology nowadays, it can be done through a phone call, a text message or an email (although etiquette still dictates that a written invitation warrants a written reply, unless a phone number or email address was provided specifically for the RSVP response).