DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary soon. We've sent out 100 invitations to a party, and 60 people have responded saying they will be in attendance. The final 40 people have not RSVP'd as of yet. I am nervous because my wife and I took the time out to invite our friends, and they will potentially cost us time and money if they do not show up. How much time do you allow for guests to respond to an invitation? -- Race Against Time, Charlotte, North Carolina
DEAR RACE AGAINST TIME: One of the biggest challenges that party planners have is that increasingly these days people do not RSVP for events. You are right to be concerned, but there are some things you can do. Start with checking with your caterer to find out when you have to give the final head count. This is the number that is key for your budget. When you feel you are getting close to that date, if you still have a large number of people who have not responded, you may want to pick up the phone or shoot them an email to double-check their status. You can tell the truth, that you have to give the caterer a final count and want to know if they are planning to attend your party. Do not pressure them to come. Simply be kind and direct.
You may also want to send a note to those who have RSVP'd telling them how excited you are to be seeing them at your upcoming anniversary party. Why do I say this? It is fairly common for a small percentage of people who have confirmed their attendance to become no-shows. You want to reduce the possibility of that unnecessary expense as well. In the end, you may have a few empty seats. What you want to avoid is not having enough seats, tables or food. So check in on your friends when the clock starts ticking down.