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RoR on RSVPs

How many people can you expect at your event? This depends on a number of variables.

1) The host's history of hosting and attending parties. If you try to throw the same party every month, you can expect a low Rate of Return because there's little anticipation. Likewise, if you're a bad guest (constantly flaking out on others, not RSVPing but then showing up, etc.), expect your event to be low on the priority list of others.

2) Guests' other options. If it's New Year's Eve, you'd better come up with a hell of a party if you expect the turnout to be significant.

3) Amount of notice. This is a given. People are busy, so the earlier you can get on people's calendars the better. That's why save-the-dates for weddings have become so popular in recent years.

4) The event itself. Is it a fantastic bash on the beach or a simple Gray's Anatomy viewing? What do your guests like to do? On a related note, does your invitation make people excited to come? Thinking about recent events I've had at home, our annual rooftop party had an amazing RoR. We sent the Evite out over a month in advance because I know what summers in the city are like - everyone is booked weeks in advance. Also, this is a party we only do once a year. In fact, I do no more than two huge parties a year. Any more than that and they become old hat. On the other hand, our little New Year's Eve potluck dinner had a purposely low turnout. We sent the invite out just two weeks in advance and didn't hype it too much beforehand. It's an exhausting time of year for an event planner and fewer guests meant an easier party!

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Reader Comments (7)

How do you propose letting people know that you HAVE to have an answer either way for a party? We hosted a fondue party and the cost was approximately $50 pp. We really needed to know how many people we could expect so that we could not only have enough food, but also for seating purposes (our table only sat 10 and the we had 22 guests). We still had a handful of people show up who did not RSVP.

How can I handle this issue next year?

August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Do you have any unique ideas for invitations? Is evite pretty much the de facto? Or are there other options?

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Deanna, I feel your pain. I think people experience so much informational "noise" on a daily basis that your invite, while appreciated, sometimes falls through the cracks. I know there have been times when I haven't RSVP'd as quickly as I should have. In the case you brought up, track the slackers with a phone call. Call the people who didn't respond, and email the people who did (whether it was affirmative and negative) with a "so sorry you can't make it, let's get together soon" or "can't wait to see you!" message.

Sarah, there are a TON of Evite alternatives out there, but I've only had experiences with one of them (MyPunchbowl). You've given me an idea, though...I think in the very near future, SCS will test the ten or so sites I've found and come up with a winner.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Does anyone send paper invitations anymore? I feel like all I ever get are evites, and I miss having the cute invitations to hang on the fridge as a reminder.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

You know, despite all the cute options out there for paper invitations, Evite remains the most popular method for the younger generations. Now, I know that when I receive a paper invitation, a)I'm ecstatic because it's something new and different but b)I'm more likely to forget about it because I'm mostly a paperless girl these days. I'm currently planning a party that's relying on paper invitations, and the RSVPs have been rather slow. I'd say if you're using a paper invite (and by all means please DO!), add an RSVP deadline that's well before your actual deadline, and use those extra few days to call the stragglers.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen

So when is it appropriate to start calling RSVP slackers? The day after the RSVP date? Three days? I'm always anxious about seeming like a stalker.

August 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteraj

AJ, it depends on how many extra guests you can fit in. If you're giving a big cocktail party, always plan for the numbers to be a bit fluid. On the other hand, you need firm numbers for a dinner party, and most people understand that. I wouldn't worry about calling the day after your deadline.

August 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen

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