Q: Is it customary to put return postage on envelopes for RSVPs in invitations, or does one expect that the guest should pay for his or her own postage for the return? It seems that if I expect the invitee to send the card back, I should make it as convenient as possible.
A: Maybe you should also enclose a pre-inked stamp offering the choice of yes or no (or thumbs up or thumbs down, if that’s easier on the eyes), and a tiny vial of water so your guests would not be put to the trouble of licking the envelope.
Miss Manners roundly condemns people who are so rude as to fail to respond to invitations. But she finds it exasperating when the injured hosts ascribe excuses and pathetic when they think of how to placate them.
The response card itself was invented as one such pathetic attempt. As if initiating a response were an unreasonably onerous task, compared to, say, the job of planning for the pleasure and refreshment of others. Surely you do not think that people of good will simply ignore those who are offering to entertain them because of the difficulty in finding or affixing a stamp. And anyone who thinks of bringing up the cost might consider the value received from the host.
What errant guests actually admit is that they don’t respond because they don’t know if they will feel like going when the time comes. Then they will just show up or not. An equally rude variation on this is to accept the invitation but not consider it binding.
So making it easier is not likely to help. It is those guests who make it harder on the host, who must keep prompting to get answers.
Q: My son is getting married in September and has chosen not to have a traditional rehearsal dinner. His father and I are going to pay for his wedding dinner and brunch the morning after. We also want to invite our out-of-towners and bridal party for cocktails and appetizers the night before the wedding.
The restaurant is happy to accommodate us for dinner. But I don’t know how to create an invitation that invites our friends and family to join us after the cocktail hour and to have dinner on their own. Do you have some great copy on how to do this delicately, along with a response card so that I can get a count for the restaurant?
I want this to be a celebration for the bride and groom and not worry about the additional costs associated with the dinner.
A: This is a situation that could work out easily, when your guests see that you are staying on to dinner and might naturally ask to join you. Or they might just make their own reservations.
Miss Manners understands that you are doing a lot in connection with this wedding and has no complaint about your ending your hospitality that evening with the cocktail party, while still being available for further conviviality for whoever chooses to hang around. She would only like to disabuse you of the notion that you can act as hosts while delegating that worry about the cost to people you call guests.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.