Warning: rant ahead
So, I've noticed a trend in the past several years, a trend that I'm not at all fond of. People no longer feel the need to respond to an invitation. And this bothers me.
I like organizing events and throwing parties, and despite my laissez-faire facade (whoa! I sense a theme: French terms commonly used in English), I am something of a compulsive planner. When planning an event, I don't need to have an exact number, but I do like to have a rough idea of how many people will be in attendance. I mean, there's a big difference between preparing a dinner party for 6 and setting up for cocktails and nibbles for 36. Back in the 2000s, we had Evite, but even by 2005 or so that was starting to lose its charm, and people stopped replying. And Facebook Events never really caught on- partly due to the horrible layout, and partly due to the fact that even to this day, not everyone uses Facebook. It's a good way to announce and event but no one feels the need to respond. Generally, when inviting people to something, I send out an email. How quaint. I've come to accept the fact that people generally don't respond to invitations anymore, and in some ways I blame the advent of the cell phone and other technologies. We used to have to be on time to meet someone at a designated meeting spot, otherwise we would never find each other. Now it's all "sorry 20 min late meet me at the bar on the corner thx!" I'm guilty of tardiness as well, so I'm certainly not pointing fingers.
However, not responding to an invitation is something I would never do. Sure, I get annoyed when someone doesn't answer yes or no to a group email about a Halloween party, but I get over it. Lately I've heard from a couple of friends that they've had to chase people down for a response to a wedding invitation. COME ON! Who doesn't respond to a wedding invitation?? Now that's just rude. Imagine my horror when I received an email a couple of weeks ago with something like "Just checking in because I never heard back, I know you're in Australia but are you coming to our wedding next weekend?"
Turns out that I wasn't going, but I had never received the invitation. (Damn you, international post!) And I was absolutely mortified that I was lumped in with the deadbeat non-responders. I always RSVP, even if with regrets.
In summary, if there's one courtesy I believe modern society should hold dear, it's the necessity to respond to an invitation, especially to a formal catered event. Even if you're a maybe, or might run late, at least provide a response. It's the polite thing to do.