By Stephanie Lewis
I’m a retired party planner so people ask me for invitation etiquette. They don’t realize that “RSVP Dysfunction” is the reason I quit the industry! Nevertheless, since the holidays are upon us, I offer these unique tips…
Well?? – To expedite sluggish RSVP’s, put an * at the bottom that states, “*If you do not reply by (insert date), please bring your own chair and a kosher sandwich.” (That oughta get ‘em!)
Mystery – Received an entirely blank RSVP response card? The guest opened it, read it, and inserted it inside the stamped, addressed envelope with the notion that you practice mental telepathy. Or they checked, “Will Attend” and wrote “6” under “Number of Guests” without disclosing their name. Mazel Tov! Six people in the witness protection program are coming to your simcha! The adhesive was cheap and the card fell out during postal handling, delivering you an empty envelope? Do this: using pencil, lightly number the backs of all the response envelopes and when something cryptic arrives, refer to your master list where you wrote guest names and specific linking numbers. Note: Party savvy people (like my Grandma Ida) have caught on to this system and will ask, “Nu? How come I’m #127? What? Didn’t I make your Top Ten invitees?” So instead of numbers, use types of food corresponding to guest names. Everyone loves to eat and nobody’s offended.
Themes: Beware of writing something limiting like, “Come dressed entirely in pink for our Pink Elephant theme!” Turnout will be poor. Instead just surprise guests by handing out pink floppy ears and trunks for them to wear. (Sounds delightful, but I can’t attend — I’m scheduling wisdom teeth surgery that day.)
Proofread: Not just for typos because many times words ARE correctly spelled but in the (unfortunate) wrong place. My son’s Bar Mitzvah invitation swapped two crucial words and looked like this:
Number of Adults ___ Number of Chicken ____
Preference for: Beef___ Children____ Fish____
Understandably, our meal choices upset a lot of vegetarians. And children’s advocates.
Jewish Standard Time: This shouldn’t be a thing. Don’t put “6:30 wedding ceremony” but jubilantly think to yourself, “Aha! I’m not starting until 8:00 pm, so I’m tricking my friends (who come fashionably late) into arriving on time.” No. Just no. This isn’t the episode on I Love Lucy where Ricky teaches her a lesson in time management. Simply write, “Ceremony begins promptly at 8:00 pm.” And then make sure that happens!
Expectations: It’s always a nice touch to insert into invitations (of your non-Jewish friends) an explanation of what they should anticipate at your simcha. Once again, proofread this insert! A word can be spelled correctly but have a different meaning than you intend. I helped female guests with their clothing modesty by writing, “Avoid bear arms and shoulders during the ceremony!” An entire family stressed over Grizzlies roaming our synagogue.
Clarity: If you’re using Evite, (and it’s not considered a faux pas to do so these days!) make RSVP choices straightforward like, “Yes, No, or Maybe.” Don’t be cute and choose “Shakespearian style” or your guests will be stymied between, “To Be” or “Not to be” or “That is the question!” Besides not knowing if they just told you they were coming or going, some guests might show up reenacting Macbeth and that could be gruesome! Or boring.
I’m happy to report I took my own advice from #2 (above) and when Grandma Ida called to lament, “So what am I? Chopped Liver?” I simply referenced my master key guest list and said, “Sure enough Grandma, you actually are!”
Stephanie D. Lewis is a regular writer for The Huffington Post and pens a humor blog Onceuponyourprime.com plus you can follow her on Twitter @missmenopause