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R.S.V.P. is derived from the French phrase "répondez s'il vous plaît" which translated into English means "please reply." This is a very traditional method to ask for your response to an invitation in order to firmly know for seating and catering, who is able or unable to attend and how many guests to prepare for. Even if you are unable to attend, it is still custom to reply to an invitation indicating your inability to attend.
Responses can be handled through many methods depending on the formality of the event. Your guests can respond by email, phone, a "fill-in" response card or a more formal and traditional handwritten response on personal stationery. You only need to note on the bottom left hand corner of your invitation:
R.s.v.p. by May 15th (or Please respond by)
to Mary George at 555.555.5555
R.s.v.p by May 15th
A fill-in response card:
The favour of a reply is requested
by the fifth of May
_______ accepts (or will attend)
_______ regrets (or will not attend)
Requires hand written note from guests:
R.s.v.p. by the fifteenth of May or
Please reply by the fifteenth of May or
Please respond by the fifteenth of May