DEAR MISS MANNERS: We received a wedding invitation and are wondering if an RSVP is necessary. The invitation came with a stamped envelope. It did not ask for a yes or a no. It simply asked for your name and the number of people attending if you were to go.

We believe you need to RSVP only if you plan to attend, and no response is needed if you are not. If there were boxes to check yes or no, then you reply either way. Can you please set us straight?

GENTLE READER: Please, Miss Manners begs you, apply a modicum of your own common sense here. If you issue an invitation, even the most offhand of invitations, such as “Want to take a break and go down to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee?” don’t you expect a response?

Well, the R in “RSVP” means, in French, “respond.” It is not that regrettable term “regrets only,” which makes it clear that the event is so massive and impersonal that the hosts won’t notice whether or not you are there. (Yet they take it upon themselves to assume that you will regret not attending.)

Silence is an insult, not a response. It means that the hosts have to keep a place for you in case you are tardy in replying or, even worse, just plan to show up.

Your non-response illustrates the folly of hosts attempting to corral neglectful guests by doing most of their job — supplying paper, stamps, and even most of the words. Is it really too much to expect the invited to use their own paper and stamp to write back? In this case, the envelope and stamp are already provided, and all you have to supply is a reply. Miss Manners of course would prefer a formal one, written out by yourself, but if that defeats you, you could at least state your intentions on the card.

These people thought enough of you to invite you to their wedding. You don’t have to go, and you don’t have to send a present. But ignoring them — not replying and not sending your good wishes — is callous.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is an acceptable response to a request for money for a fundraiser? Specifically, what if you are casual friends? If you pour your heart out about your cause, should you expect to have your request acknowledged? Even if they do not support monetarily, should they at least express their appreciation in your effort to help others?

GENTLE READER: There, there. Miss Manners commends you for working to collect money for charity.

But let her remind you that when people ask their friends for money, there is an underlying assumption that friends will be more likely to contribute than strangers because they are embarrassed to deny a friend. And they know that their friends have a rough idea of how they spend their money.

So you should make allowances for the fact that you have discomforted friends who do not contribute to your cause, for whatever reason. And it would be difficult for them to praise you for devotion to a cause that they do not support without sounding patronizing.

Read more advice from Miss Manners:

Woman in flip-flops refuses to toe the line

Miss Manners: Banal questions are best met with humor

Dessert is to be enjoyed, not necessarily shared

Neighbors’ chimes strike sour note for light sleepers

Read more on weddings

From classmates to life mates

Why long-lasting marriages survive

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

@ 2011, by Judith Martin

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