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Save the date cards, formal invitations, electronic RSVPs, Facebook page announcements...there are more ways than ever to share information for upcoming galas, weddings, parties and charity events. But, do people actually take the time to RSVP? Is it considered passe to send out invitations and has snail mail been replaced with electronic invites?

Theresa Kaufman of Theresa Kaufman Events, gives the scoop behind the "bane of every party planner's existence."

A modern invention: More than 50 years ago, a printed or hand-written invitation meant that you put pen to paper and wrote a handwritten reply. Adding 'The favour of a reply is requested' or 'RSVP' to the bottom of an invitation reminded people that a reply was needed. From there the RSVP card was born, along with the stamped, self-addressed return envelope.

It's just polite: RSVPs on both ends have to be treated with respect and understanding. Etiquette isn't about being "fancy" or making people uncomfortable. It's about courtesy. When you receive an invitation, respond as quickly as possible. Conversely, when you send out invitations, be patient. Not everyone will respond immediately and a gentle nudge might be needed for those you don't hear from by the RSVP date.

Event sets the tone: Sending out mailed invitations for weddings is still popular in Pittsburgh. But charity events are another story. There are so many to choose from that guests often wait up until a few hours before (even if it's black tie) before making a decision.

Last minute arrivals: We are planners. This is what we anticipate. But when it comes to charity events, you never want people to feel unwelcome, so you find a way to include them. If you don't hear from someone who you invited to a wedding even after trying to contact them several times, consider them a "no" and move on with your plans.

Different generations: Facebook is passe for teens and 20-somethings. They might create an event page to get the word out, say for a graduation party, but you see that less and less. A direct group text invitation to friends is more likely. RSVPs with this group is more casual and more last-minute.

What other party planners say:

Eileen French, partner at Revive Marketing, said it is key to know your audience: "Pittsburgh, specifically, is a last-minute tickets and RSVP town. High end, expensively ticketed galas should always utilize a formal invitation. Facebook (social media in general) is more inclusive, while formal RSVP's are more exclusive."

Is it worth sending paper invites? Samuel C. Badger, development coordinator at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, weighs in: "Sending and receiving, are a thrill. When having a party these days I do a formal paper invite, and email, and the Facebook event page. I think everyone has their favorite way to receive information. Make it easy, and let them get back to you the way they want."

Sean Gray of Sean Gray International notes that it is all about the experience: "The first piece of information we receive sets the expectation of the experience we think we will have. The act of opening an invitation and returning the physical RSVP shows commitment of both the host and guest."


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