Metro-East Living

What to do when invitees don’t respond to invitation

Shutterstock / kuleczka

Q: What is the proper thing to do when invitees do not reply to a special event that is being catered? I am at a loss of what to do.

A: Yes, it is very disappointing and frustrating when some invited guests do not reply to an invitation.

I am not certain why this is, but it happens over and over again and it is very rude and inconsiderate. It makes you wonder if these invited guests have never hosted an event themselves because if they did, they would understand how important it is to know how many people will be coming. When a caterer is involved, it is even more frustrating because once you order a certain amount of food based on the number attending, you are committed to paying for that amount whether the number you quoted come or not.

Here is one suggestion I have used myself in the past when I have been in your situation. I call each invited guest from whom I have not had a reply. The polite conversation goes like this: “Hi, Jane, it’s Dianne Isbell. How are you?” (Give her a minute to respond). Then: “Time is just zooming by and I was concerned that maybe you or John were ill or out of town because I have not had a response from you yet as to whether you both are going to be able to come to (whatever event you are hosting). I do hope you will be able to join us.”

Then, give Jane (or whomever) a moment to collect her thoughts and give you a response. If she does not quickly remember the details or cannot find the invitation, be prepared to give her the date, the time and the place. If she hedges, then it is time to say: “Oh, I have to give my final count to the caterer tomorrow afternoon, so do you think you could please call me back in the morning and let me know one way or the other if you can come.”

Or, here is another approach: “Hi, Jane...... I was just checking to see if you received my (or our) invitation for (whatever the event is) and whether you will be able to come. Sometimes, various pieces of mail get stuck in between all the ads we receive these days, so I thought I would give you a call.” Then, proceed from there by providing the details, if necessary, and hopefully you will get a response.

By using one of these unintimidating and friendly approaches, you allow the invited guest the opportunity to respond without being embarrassed. The added benefit is hopefully this person will respond more quickly the next time he or she receives an invitation, whether it is from you or someone else. It also allows you to get the count you need to provide to the caterer. Of course, as the hostess, you need to be prepared for a couple of no-shows even though they said they were coming, and occasionally the arrival of a couple of guests who decided to attend at the last minute.

Note: Thank you to Connie Mettler, who read last week’s question and answers concerning proper etiquette when attending an artist, craft or vendor event, and added it to her blog as it pertains to Belleville’s fantastic annual Art on the Square. My answers apparently “struck a note” because the comments were very supportive and interesting. One person in particular wished I would have admonished those who stand in a booth and remark to themselves or a friend loud enough for the artist to hear: “(You or so and so) could make this for me, I bet.” Point well taken; I should have included that in the “don’ts.”

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Maureen Houston, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to