Color of Money: Stop costing people money -- show some RSVP R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- Event planners often warn clients about the no-shows.

Depending on the event, 10% to 20% of the people who RSVP with a "yes" may not show up to your celebration.

I remember that when I was planning my wedding, my grandmother insisted that I invite a neighbor because she didn't want bad blood on the block. I was already on a tight budget, but I relented and extended an invitation to the older neighbor, who I didn't know well. The woman and her husband responded that they would attend the reception.

They did not show up.

Not only that, they never even offered an explanation for their absence. And they had company. There was an entire table of 10 that was empty because of the no-shows -- friends and relatives. None of them provided a good reason for reneging on the RSVP.

My husband and I paid for our own wedding and reception. We had saved for a year. Looking at those empty seats made me furious, because had we known -- even up to a few days before the reception -- that those folks were not coming, we could have cut our expenses.


I had contemplated sending all the absentees an invoice for the missed meals. Of course, this would have been a breach of etiquette. (No, you can't send the bad-mannered guests a bill.)

Some of my readers have also been forced to deal with this issue. One father of the bride, who was cutting the checks for the wedding and reception, was particularly disturbed by the reasons people gave for not showing up.

"My favorite was the couple who told my daughter and son-in-law, 'Oh, we didn't come because someone else asked us to go to a party at the last minute and we thought it would be more fun.'"

Any gracious host understands that something can come up at the eleventh-hour that is out of your control, especially for events that are months out. You get sick or your child becomes ill, and those are valid reasons to back out of an accepted invitation. You got into a car accident and you didn't want to upstage the couple with questions and concerns about your full-length body cast. Fair enough.


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