What To Do About People Who Ignore RSVP Deadline

My half-sister is pregnant and, while I don’t know what possessed me, I am hosting a baby shower for her next Saturday. It is at a tea room and I am paying per person - it’s their formal tea. Additionally, space is limited and I gambled and sent out several courtesy invitations which, two months ago, seemed a safe thing to do. Now the deadline is at hand and I haven’t heard from the stepmother’s side of the family who are really Northern Vermont countryfolk and who are the main members of the courtesy invitation list (they didn’t go to sis’s bridal shower). I am sure they can’t even conceive of the importance of the RSVP date, but I do have to give numbers to the tea room and pay for that many early next week. Showers, to them, are usually held outdoors or in a church basement and the food is made at home. Her Mother in law who lives locally but is a bitch and who, rumor has it, has another shower that day has also not called. She may know that her daughter set the stage for her probably not coming. I am really close to my number now and would love to tell these people it’s too late if they call beyond the date (not tomorrow, perhaps, but by Sunday). I will say it’s none of my concern whether any of these people get mad at me, but on the other hand I don’t want them to be justified in being mad. What to do?

Make a followup call. Let them know that you hadn’t heard from them and just wanted to be certain if they were coming or not. If they waffle, tell them that the location requires a specific head count and if they don’t let you know then they will not be able to attend. You can make that nicer if the situation warrents. Even if you don’t care if they get mad, it would be better to find out for sure then risk problems the day of the shower if they show up otherwise.

I’d call them on the phone and ask them if they’ll be coming. Tell them you must know absolute numbers by this day and hour.

(I’m ashamed to say I’ve procrastinated past the RSVP date on one or two occasions myself :o )

They are people I personally don’t have phone numbers for. Not my friends or family but my sister’s. I have my stepmother on the job, but we are talking about at least 10 people. Then there are some less-important friends of the mother to be. I believe they’ve been reminded of the date somewhere along they way. I should rest assured that the big Vermont contingency is not coming but I guess I’m just nervous.

So…with a good faith effort to reach people, can I tell them I can’t accomodate them if they’re still late?

I’ll third calling the people you haven’t heard from, explaining the situation, and asking if they’re coming. People do get absent-minded and this may be just the prompt they need.

Call if you can (or not you but whoever has their numbers). On your date go with the number of guests you have positive RSVPs for and let the tea room know that you have “15 with an expectation of 5 more” (or maybe a better way would be to RSVP 20 with a likelihood of 15) meaining you have fifteen but are going in knowing that you may have to pony up for 5 more plates and the kitchen won’t be caught off guard.
You can’t be the only person in the history of the tea room to have a bad RSVP guest or two show up. If you are, they had better get used to it. Anyone that caters showers and stuff should be planning on +/- whatever percentage is standard for the industry.

This is true and is making me realize it’s because the remaining people are the people I most resent entertaining. THERE! I said it. I want to tell these people not to come because I feel they are disrespecting me. If it had been my sister’s friend with the profoundly handicapped child, I’d be like, oh, sure honey, no problem. So, okay, okay, I’m a hypocrite, but is it technically improper to politely turn them away if they are really late with their yes? The real motivation will be our little secret.

Well, I think it depends when. If they show up at the Tea House then yes, turn them away. (“Oh, so sorry - there’s limited seating and I didn’t include you because you never RSVP’d”)

If they call the day before, ditto. However, usually places need 48 hours notice of final numbers (they may say longer, but in my experience 48 hours is the “real” deadline.) If they RSVP before then it would be in poor form to turn them down. Particularly the MIL - you could be making trouble for your half-sister that she doesn’t need with a new baby on the way.

Say it as many times as you want, because they *are * disrespecting you.

I think proper etiquette dictates that when they show up unnanounced that you not turn them away at the door but fix them with an icy glare and say “How nice of you to show! I *certainly * wasn’t expecting you.”

Then seat them and behave because no one is going to remember that they didn’t RSVP, but they will remember if you made an ass of yourself over it.

Just keep repeating “Doing it for my sister. Doing it for my sister.”

At this point (having just gone through the same thing for my mom’s surprise birthday party), I say shoot them.

But that’s illegal, so really you don’t have any choice but to follow up by phone, if you want to know who is actually coming.

I’m a big fan of doing so in a way that subtly shames them, however, something in the line of “I didn’t hear from you, so I worried that you hadn’t recieved the invitation.”

They are disrespecting you. You just have to remember this is not your party and these are not your friends, and their presence would be welcomed by the guest of honor who doesn’t know what INCONSIDERATE SHITS they are. Sorry. As I said, I just got through with this myself.

And then be prepared for some of the people you call to confirm, and pay for, not showing up after all. :smack:

Assuming that the Tea House can accomodate extras, certainly. However, there are some places that either cannot or will not “squeeze in just one more.” Certainly the tea house that I visit with my parents is that way - your party is your party - they make it clear when you reserve a spot that they will NOT “just move around tables” or “pull up an extra chair” if some non-RSVP-er shows up. They’re always packed, so I assume it works as a business model for them. My (long winded) point is that the OP may not be in the position to accomodate non-RSVP-ers as easily as you suggest.

Further, proper etiquette never involves publicly shaming people for bad manners. While it might be satisfing to glare at your guests and give them a snotty comment when they arrive, doing so is just as rude as not RSVPing in the first place. Judith Martin would suggest in this situation that the OP accomodate the people if possible, or graciously turn them away if not possible. (BTW - not feeling like sitting with people who are asses and don’t RSVP is a perfectly legit reason for their late attendence to be “not possible.”)

Unfortunately, as the hostess, you are bound to acquire the phone numbers and either call yourself or be in charge of making someone else do it. When it comes to etiquette, you can’t play the bitchy game no matter how much you want to :frowning:

Well, I am in a minority on this. I feel that writing RSVP is a demand, and one does not make demands of friends. Thus, IMHO, a no reply is perfectly OK* if they are not coming*.

But you have every right to ask reservatiosn from those who are going to show up. Yes, you can turn them away, although you have to leave a couple chairs open for those that have* really* good excuses or claim they did send their RSVP back.

You can if you’re careful. I’ve mentioned to certain people that I hadn’t heard yet whether they were coming to a party that we were hosting, so, “Should we expect you or not? The party is this Saturday, and it would be a shame if the table we’ve reserved at the restaurant couldn’t accommodate you and your family…” or “Shame we didn’t hear from you sooner. We’ve already booked a table for 12. Can’t wait to see you next time.”

I can play the bitchy game a little, if I’m absolutely correct etiquette-wise and I’m footing the bill. I believe Miss Manners would concur.

On preview: DrDeth, R.S.V.P. is an abbreviation for the French (and forgive my poor spelling of French words) “respondez, sil vous plait”, which means “please respond.” Hardly a demand, but a polite request.

Thanks for all the advice and opinions, everyone. ShelliBean especially with your awesome advice about people actually showing up without calling.

So, anyway, it’s all resolved and not because people are ultimately good no matter what. My stepmother called around to Vermont. Nobody is coming, thank goodness, because they were the gamble and, as someone suggested, this tea room cannot accomodate larger than expected parties. I’m glad, but it’s kind of hard to believe all of my sister’s sisters-in-law, nieces and nieces in law and one sister have such little regard for her and their MIL/grandmother/GIL. They didn’t go to her bridal shower either. And my brother in law called his mother, who was pissed that he would even call - but she never called me, that’s for sure. So we’re caught up with the entire list. But it was like pulling teeth. And there are still a number of people on the list whose response is second or third hand. AND my husband somehow let the idea of the 50% deposit I put down on this thing become twisted in his mind that I was paying for 10 and now seems put out that there will be 20. AND I have 20 tea cup candles to make now. Why did I do this?

As for responding only if you’re coming, as DrDeth mentioned, I’ve often wondered why that’s not the standard. But it’s not. In fact, if you’re letting people slide about not calling, it’s usually “regrets only”. You know what I regret only? Having this damn shower!

It my opinion, you should always RSVP whether you’re coming or not specifically because these events require number for catering purposes.

If you can’t phone them, send them a politely written card saying that you’re sorry they haven’t replied to you and should they still wish to attend then they should contact the tea-house direct to make a booking (which they will then have to pay for).

It gets you off the hook, you’ve made the effort, and it reminds them that they’ve been disrespectful and rude in not replying.

That part about inviting them to make a booking themselves, for which they will pay, is awesome.

Since she’s a bitch, tell them all to go to hell if they show up. Mention that’s why they have RSVP. O.K. I’m felling like shit and in a bad mood today.

I realize that - it was a joke. I don’t actually think proper etiquette ever dictatates rudeness.

As far as having people show up as extras - any catering/hosting site that deals with this should have at least suggestions for how they handle this situation. It may be as simple as asking “I have had 14 positive RSVPs. How many seats do you recommend I reserve based on your experience.” Any Tea Room that puts on blinders and says “14. No more, no less and that number is in stone” must be offering something more than customer service to keep people happy.

How many times has this subject come up just on the Dope? It’s a common problem for hosts and hostesses, and if a catering/hosting site can’t have a plan to accomodate what is basically society’s acceptance of poor manners for RSVPing as a matter of course then they cannot claim to offer full service and the host would be better off with a talking, food-serving robot.