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Social Invitation Etiquette

Quick Tips on the Art of Inviting


Social Invitation Etiquette

Creating the perfect invitation

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Many people, who rarely consider matters of etiquette in their everyday lives, tend to be very concerned about etiquette and proper form when it comes to sending, receiving and responding to written invitations. While beautiful engraving and excellent penmanship are both wonderful to display on your invites, there are four things that the proper invitation must include. These four invitation necessities are the who, where, why and when of the event.

    For the most formal social situations:
  • If at all possible your invitations should be hand-written or engraved.
  • Use formal wording. Here is an example:

    Elizabeth Jewell and Gabriella Daniels (who)
    request the pleasure of Judith Walker's company
    at dinner
    on Saturday,February eighteenth,
    at seven o'clock
    7 Evenstar Place, (where)

  • Variations abound and they will enable you to adjust the level of formality used in your invitation. For example, instead of using "request the pleasure" use "invite you to." Instead of using the third person reference, you can use the pronoun "you" and drop the "company" in the above wording. These and similar changes will give you a less formal invitation while still giving your invited guests all of the necessary information.
    Plan ahead and extend your invitations as far in advance as you are able
  • Save-the-date cards are fine and should be used when the event is scheduled for several months or a year in the future.
  • Make every effort to have the correct information including the right time and day on your invites. If this requires your waiting an extra week or so for confirmation, then wait the extra week if you can. Remember, the first information your guests receive will stick with them even if you have to make changes in the future.
    Your invitations should match the level of formality and they should compliment the style of your event.
  • Choosing to use a calligrapher or pay for expensive engraving not necessary in most situations. If you are planning an extremely formal affair you may want to consider the grand presentation either of these might add to your invitations.
  • For informal events, small dinner parties and other more casual events, you may certainly use handwritten informal notes, telephone calls or pre-printed store bought invitations.
  • Be creative with your invites. Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules about invitations except that they should always include the essential information listed above.
  • For very informal get-togethers you may simply want to offer an email or verbal invite to your friends, family or colleagues.
  • Offer your invited guests hints in your language and wording. More formal invites use subjunctive case grammatical clues. These are identified by the presence of verb tenses moved back in time. For instance, instead of "May I" the more formal invite will read "Might I."
    Gift and money matters.
  • I know it is a popular thing for brides and mothers-to-be to do in our culture,however, listing registry information or gift suggestions on your invitation is wrong. Many people are put off by what they perceive the greedy nature of such information.
  • If your event is a fundraiser it is perfectly acceptable (and expected) that you mention money and or donations in your invitation package.
  • For gatherings, weddings or showers where gifts are appropriate, interested guests can ask for registry information when they respond to the invite. It is also fine for your guests to ask a close relative or friend for gift suggestions and/or registry information if they would like.
  • In general you should try to avoid prohibitive language including the increasingly common "no gifts please" notice.
  • It is considered in poor taste to request money or cash in your invitations.
  • If you are the recipient of an invitation that offers gift suggestions, it is perfectly fine for you to totally ignore the information.
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