The other day we attended a dinner hosted by close friends on the occasion of their silver wedding. To say the fare was rich and exotic would be an understatement. The menu comprised the best of East and West and north and south and the dishes, 25 in all, were attractively arranged. Since it was a buffet, you could pick and choose according to your taste.
We were the last to bid goodbye to the happy couple and, as we left, I glanced at the food that was left on the table. It appeared to be sufficient for another 20 guests. I asked my hostess whether all the invitees had come for dinner. She appeared to have caught my hint, for she said quite disappointedly, “This is what happens when we throw a party. People in our country still don’t seem to understand the importance of RSVP. In spite of clearly saying at the bottom of the invitation, ‘RSVP! Regrets only’, I received just a couple of regrets. Naturally, I assumed that the rest would be attending the dinner.”
I could understand her plight too well. All that food could not be stacked in a 165 litres fridge. Moreover, her family was small and it was just not possible for them to consume the quantity meant for 20 people!
This is not an isolated instance. Very often most of us don’t bother to inform our hosts about our inability to accept their invitation, be it for a wedding, wedding anniversary or birthday. All that it takes is a two-minute phone call or a two-line letter to say we will not be present on the occasion for such and such a reason. If the reason cannot be stated or it is too personal or embarrassing, there is no need to mention it. But a line or a call acknowledging and thanking our hosts for inviting us and saying whether we are honouring their invitation is a must.
Sometimes we may receive an invitation card after the event due to a postal delay or we may not be in town when it is delivered. Even then, we should make it a point to acknowledge the invitation and say why we could not make it on the occasion, adding that we have missed an opportunity to personally wish or congratulate our hosts. Otherwise, they will be left wondering as to whether their invitation reached us or was lost in transit.
Such a communication from the recipient speaks much for her good manners and etiquette, besides giving that all important ‘personal touch’.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao