While the waters of gift-giving etiquette remain very difficult to navigate, one wedding by-law remains unchanged:  the RSVP.

For all those who have never planned, like, anything, here’s how it works.  If you’re throwing a party and you don’t want it to be shitty, you pay someone a price per person to host the party for you.  If said party is a wedding reception,  that price tends toward the astronomical.  Maybe you’re kind of a hippie, and you’re like, “We would come to your wedding even if we ate hot dogs all night.”  Okay.  That’s even worse, hippie.  How many hot dogs do you think you’ll eat?  How many people are you bringing to eat hot dogs with you?  Because Lord knows no one can bear to eat hot dogs at a wedding alone, for Chrissakes.   It’s completely rude for the couple hosting the event not to invite some random person they’ve never met that you’ll probably hate in a month to be photographed eating hot dogs and doing the Cupid Shuffle alongside the people you’ve known all your life.  But I digress.  I believe I was saving that rant for ‘The Height of Rudeness, Part Three:  Rudeness on the Part of the Bride.”  Forgive me.

Anyway.  The only way that everyone involved keeps from going crazy is by knowing exactly how many people they can expect to eat hot dogs or filet mignon, as the case may be.   So when we send out an invitation, we include an RSVP.  Said RSVP even includes a stamped envelope so esteemed guest does not have to spend the 44 cents, hunt through her purse, swing by the post office, et cetera, to ensure speedy reply.   Sending back an RSVP falls under the category of what is called a “common courtesy.”  For those unfamiliar with the term “common courtesy,” (ie, an unsettling number of our guests, family members in particular) here is how the phrase is defined at www.urbandictionary.com:

Common Courtesy

a. to be polite and to respond timely to invitations because you shouldn’t be a douchebag and say MAYBE to an invitation because you know people have to fucking cook for a certain amount of people!!!

b. to talk to other guests at a dinner party and not avoiding eye contact and actually listening to the hostess when she says “please sit down”

c. not being a major douchebag

The website www.momversations.com reports that 80 percent of invitations do not receive a reply.  It adds that one step above the non-responders on the annoying-as-hell scale are those that respond at the very last minute.  We would like to add that one step above those people are the ones who have the gall to say, “But you know we’re coming.”

Um, actually, no, we don’t.  Anyone who has planned a wedding will testify that the gifts on the doorstep aren’t the only surprises.  We frequently open the responses of people we thought were definitely attending who ultimately aren’t able to make it.

If our wedding is any indication, men and women neglect their RSVPs on a pretty even scale.  So do blacks and whites.  Homosexuals, unfortunately, are the only group to come out (no pun intended) with egg on their proverbially pretty faces.   Sixty-eight percent of our gays have not yet responded or responded at the last minute, compared to just 25 percent of our breeders.

Sigh.  Maybe gays will get it when they’re the ones getting married.

Until then, we are forced to hound our guests.  We call, text or Facebook to find out who’s coming and what they want to eat.  This is considered by some to be poor manners, of course.    But while much wedding etiquette is bullshit, some of it is just common courtesy.