What does it mean to RSVP anymore?

There is a recent “news story” of a couple that billed their no-show wedding guests that had RSVP yes. This story has many weighing in on whether it is tackier to say you are going to an event and then do not show up (without any apologies beforehand) or if it is tackier to bill those that didn’t show up. Here is the thing, people RSVP “yes” all the time now and frequently do not show up. It is now an expected part of any event. Overall, it seems people tend to say yes until something better comes along or they just do not bother calendarizing the event in their personal schedules.

Recently, in California, a friend of mine lamented the fact that she prepared countless food items, celebratory games and balloons for her son’s small birthday party. She was selective in who she invited so as to keep it intimate and amongst friends (although I appear to have been left off the guest list and I would have come, but I digress). She received many “yes” responses for which she then dutifully prepared. The day came, she set out the goodies and then waited. A good 50% of the RSVPs didn’t show up and didn’t bother to let her know they weren’t going to show up. And there were no apologies. There was no shame thereafter.

I also read recently on Facebook a post a friend passed on if his friend’s birthday party that ended up being an extremely sad affair. This man was turning 50 and he reserved a large table for dinner at a fancy restaurant he had always wanted to enjoy a meal at. Many said yes to his invitation and he adjusted his reservation accordingly. Lo and behold, the day came. The time came and only two other people came to his restaurant celebration. At each chair he had placed nice little gift bags for his guests to show his appreciation to them for spending his big day with him. He took home a sad heart, an embarrassed self and two hands full of gift bags. I don’t know if the guests that didn’t show up ever apologized but just hearing this story leaves one with a heavy heart.

Now these are all sad and frustrating personal stories. These “no-shows” also impact the workplace.

I have been interviewing countless of potential employees the last few weeks. Unbelievably, there have been so far, four no-shows. No apologies and no communication after accepting the interview appointment. I must say in my ten years in NYC running an agency, I didn’t even have a total of 4 “no shows.” What is going on out here? Should I follow the wedding couple’s example and bill those individuals my hourly rate? I know that medical doctors’ offices threaten to bill patients for not showing up without advising the medical office beforehand. Do medical offices really do this? I have never missed a medical appointment and thus I have no first-hand experience to draw upon. I do know that if I cannot make it to something, I let the hosts (whether a home or business) know I will not be there. Is that such a hard thing to do? Perhaps we need to make RSVPs be video based, playing into the selfie phenomena. It could be if you see yourself saying “yes” to an invite you very well may feel your face and honor are tied to it. Or it very well could not since it would be just another selfie in the hundreds people take each week. One’s image doesn’t really hold much value anymore. As such, many just may not care whether people think horribly of them for not showing up after saying they would. So much for the so-called sharing economy or zeitgeist.

The thing is time is something all of us have very little of in the grandness of life. It is disrespectful to be so uncaring (blase) about other people’s times and gracious efforts. Follow through never goes out of style no matter what technology or busy schedules one is embedded within.


12 replies »

  1. I saw some hallmark cards designed exactly to reply to social invitations. They looked like they had been standing there unsold for some time! And then I found your blog. Great timing as always.


  2. I listened to a woman on a local radio station talking about how she was considering billing 4 guests $80 (the price of dinner) each for being no-shows, at the time I thought it was in poor taste and she should just let it go.
    Your post has shown things in a different light and I think the situations you describe just boil down to poor manners plus a lack of common courtesy and respect for other people’s time. I think sadly we live in a society that can be a bit selfish and entitled at times, too many people worrying only about themselves and not thinking of others. I’ll avoid pulling out my soap box and just say great post, really got me thinking 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I do think its weird to bill guests but there has to be a way for people to hold themselves accountable to others in this interconnected world. I guess it can start with us thinking twice before clicking yes 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mimi. Good post and a reminder that good manners cost nothing but exhibiting poor thoughtless manners can quickly destroy a reputation. My husband and I have always taught our children that a well mannered, considerate person is always welcome everywhere and thus far it has proven true in their lives. In regard to RSVPs, I even make it a policy to call a restaurant if I need to cancel a dinner reservation. The staff always seems surprised by the courtesy….By the way, yes doctors offices will charge you if you cancel within less than 24 hours. One more rambling thought, perhaps the reason people don’t think it’s important to stick to their word is because we have become a self-absorbed narcissistic society that believes we as individuals are the most important thing. All one has to look at to support this hypotheses is the plethora of apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook etc. whereas we can be the star in our own mini movie. As long as there are plenty of cyber “likes” who cares what others might think?


    • So agree with you! Especially that we are increasingly a self-absorbed narcissistic society. It isn’t about manners anymore it is “I don’t want to and that’s all that matters.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is one instance where I can see a bit of a San Francisco/Bay Area attitude showing in this behavior. It seems the young rich techies who have settled there are so in demand that it really doesn’t matter if they offend potential employers or even friends as there will always be more available to them. I doubt they will ever find a similar situation anywhere else in the world.


  4. Reblogged this on Lady BLeigh ~Anti-Socialite~ and commented:
    This is something I feel very strongly about as I am not an indecisive person by nature. find people who make a commitment to something (however small it may be) and flake out without so much as a text message to be fickle and I tend to distance myself from them as a way to protect myself from being let down.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Social skills are seen as how much social media you participate in. We are becoming a more narcissistic society from the ease with which we unfriend, delete, trash and spam without a care. It has flowed (for some) into how they treat others who are actually ‘in’ their life. I don’t think billing is appropriate unless you provide a service. I do think it is appropriate to re-evaluate how many friends one actually has and ‘delete’ the rest. The birthday celebration story is heartbreaking. I think I would have given the gift bags to other diners for fun, as they did show up after all and would have appreciated the surprise from a stranger, a random and rare act of kindness.


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