I Regret to Inform You
By Thomas P. Farley, What Manners Most
There may be nothing so regrettable as an invitation that ends with the words regrets only. I cringe anytime I receive a party notification with that instruction. The concept of “don’t call to say you’re coming…just call if you’re not coming” is, quite frankly, a recipe for party disaster. Here are three reasons you’ll regret the day you ever sent an invite with the admonition regrets only:
- As a host, you can never presume that no news is good news. If you haven’t heard from a guest, chances are just as good that your invite was never received, never opened or at best, still being considered. For this reason, regrets only tallies will invariably reflect an inflated and highly inaccurate guest number.
- Although you may think you’re making your guests’ lives easier, when you let them off the R.S.V.P. hook you also send the message that you’re uninterested in hearing from them. Effectively: “Unless you’re not able to join, don’t bother me. We’ll have plenty of time to talk at the party.”
- Lastly, the time savings promised by regrets only will typically backfire. About three days before your get-together, panic will start to set in: You’ve invited 40 people and only heard regrets from 3. Does that actually mean 37 revelers will be knocking on your door come party night? Suddenly, you’re second-guessing the “genius” of regrets only. And thus will begin a nervous round of phone calls and e-mails. Bye-bye time savings.
So unless you’re a super-confident party-giver who isn’t concerned about numbers or about your guests’ feelings, avoid regrets only at all costs. Instead, ask that your guests R.S.V.P. Give them enough advance notice of your gathering and set a date by which they need to let you know whether they’re coming, if they’ll have a guest and what, if anything, they’ll be bringing. In all likelihood, you’ll still have to chase down stragglers who don’t express their intentions either way, but you’ll have much less to regret. Besides, réspondez s’il vous plait trips off the tongue so much more nicely than regrets only.
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