You have all seen RSVP on an invitation. What is it, why is it there, and what does it mean? In practice it means that you should contact the hosts of the event and let them know if you are going to attend. The actual translation is from French répondez, s'il vous plaît ; it means please respond promptly.
So you ask “what’s the big deal?” Responding promptly to your host is not only a sign of your good manners, it is a sign of respect for your host or hostess. Leaving them wondering whether up or not you will show is very stressful, as well as making it difficult for them to complete their plans; seating, catering, gifts and all the other things that go into planning a great event.
RSVP is also akin to “register now” for a seminar, fund raiser or trade show. Reservations, locations, catering, publicity and more often have to be paid in advance. Not knowing if you need seminar materials for 20 or 200 is a major challenge. This is why reservations or registration is so often requested so far in advance of the event. There is no other way to put together a successful event.
RSVP’s and other good manners need to make a comeback. The civility of life is sorely missed.