Invitation Etiquette

According to The Emily Post Institute, no one is obligated to accept an invitation or to explain the reasons for not accepting. Nor will anyone come running to your door and demand that you finally reply to that invitation that has been sitting in your inbox or on your coffee table for three weeks.  However, just as someone is being kind when inviting you to an event, you should be just as kind to reply to their invitation.

Whether you have been invited to a function hosted by a UT Law department, journal or student organization, or a law firm dinner or reception, an invitation that includes an RSVP comes with important obligations. RSVP is French meaning “Répondez, s’il vous plaît,” or “Please reply.” Be gracious and respond promptly as to whether or not you will be attending. At the very latest, please be sure to respond by the date requested. Your host needs to plan accordingly for the number of guests he/she is expecting.

Helpful RSVP tips to remember:

  • Reply in the manner indicated on the invitation. If you are given the option of responding by email or phone, you may respond by either method. If by phone only, be sure to call during business hours. If you must leave a message, please be sure to include your full name, the name of your school, and whether or not you’ll be attending “event name” on “event date.”
  • If for any reason you have responded that you will be attending but at the last minute cannot attend, it’s important that you let the host know immediately. Being a “no show” is unacceptable.
  • If you are invited to more than one reception and/or dinner for the same evening, you are encouraged to attend all if possible. If you are invited to more than one reception for the same evening, please let the recruiter know that you may be arriving late or leaving early. You may state that you have another engagement to attend but do not need to give specifics.
  • If you are invited to a dinner and a reception for the same evening, it is often possible to stop by a reception briefly before attending a dinner. You should never arrive late to a dinner invitation that you have accepted.
  • Unless an invitation states that you may bring a guest, don’t ask! An invitation is extended only to the people the hosts want to invite—and no one else. Remember, employer dinners and receptions are an extension of the interview process, so you want to be professional at all times.
  • Finally, make sure to thank your hosts before you leave, and then again by email or note the next day. This is especially true for events hosted by firms as it shows that you are genuinely interested in them. It can make the difference in being extended an offer down the line. Even if you attend a firm’s event and are not interested in pursuing employment with them, it is still in your best interest professionally to be courteous at all times.

For more etiquette tips, please visit The Emily Post Institute Etipedia.