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Jan 20, 2018

What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!

The term RSVP comes from the French phrase, “Respondez, s'il vous plait", which means “Please respond". However, its use, over the years, has changed, especially in countries where English is taught and learnt as a second language. This is one reason you shouldn't be lost in amazement when a Nigerian tells you that RSVP means "Rice and Stew Very Plenty", which means there will be abundance of food in the wedding for guests' consumption. LOL! I can't really tell where this strange meaning emanated from, but I'm sure it is a way of making most persons attend the wedding since food is one of the basic needs of man. Or can it be attributed to ignorance?
What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!
Originally, when a couple sent you a wedding invitation, it was expected that you indicate in writing or call to tell whether or not you would be able to honour the invitation. The number or address given at the RSVP section was the "recipient address" to direct your reply. That was to help them in making arrangements for food and other things. Unlike in the Nigerian setting where total strangers attend weddings, then, weddings were strictly by invitation, and foods were served according to the number of people who responded that they would attend. 

However, in today's usage, there is a twist in the actual meaning of RSVP. Apart from the strange and hilarious meaning given to it in Nigeria, most persons have mistaken RSVP for officiating minister(s), so they put their pastor's name and number there. I first realized this when I saw a member of a church seriously questioning a couple for not including a pastor's name in the RSVP section as one of the officiating ministers. "Could this be a joke?", I asked myself. But I later realized that the supposed joke is a common practice in this part of the world when my friend showed me numerous wedding cards with the names and phone numbers of officiating ministers in the RSVP section. I have seen very few wedding cards without this new usage ever since. 



Again, It will interest you to know that most persons also call on the numbers in the RSVP section to verify the wedding location, the wedding colours,  and perhaps the choice of gift to present. This is, indeed, a new tread; it wasn't like this. The real thing was that a guest who wanted to know the choicest gift to give the couple usually called the mother of the bride because it was believed that she knew the best choices of her daughter. This is a clear indication that attending a wedding was strictly by invitation.

With the current use of RSVP in this part of the world, it is obvious that the table has been turned around, and from all indications, the use of the term (RSVP) today has come to stay. The question is, "Should we continue using it (RSVP) the way we've understood it or subscribe to its actual usage?" After all, language is dynamic.

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