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Invitation etiquette

In a world of Facebook events, E-vites and word of mouth, it isn’t very often we have to buckle down and send out formal invitations. But when the time comes, it’s important they’re done correctly. This little guide will ensure that even your toughest critic is impressed with your good manners and style.

Handmade invitations

Convey the tone and theme

A good invitation will convey the tone and theme of the event without having to say a word. A bright and humourous card is great for a fun-loving husband’s 50th birthday, but not necessarily for an elegant engagement party. Pick a colour scheme and font appropriate for the event. Also, make sure the information is legible so you don’t confuse any of your guests.

Include everything guests need to know

The last thing you want is to forget a key piece of information and suddenly get pelted with friends calling to ask what your address is or which Monday the event is occuring on. Here are some important facts to never leave out.

  • What or for whom the occasion being celebrated is
  • Who is holding the event
  • The exact address of where it is occuring (you can also include directions if you feel it necessary)
  • The precise time at which it will commence
  • The desired attire (i.e., business casual, formal, black tie, etc.)
  • Who is allowed to attend (i.e., Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. Watts and guest, Mrs. Smith and family, etc.)

Correct wording

Wording is probably the most challenging aspect of proper invitation etiquette. But if you stick with the following rules, you should be just fine.

  • Use third person (i.e., “the wedding of their daughter” rather than “the wedding of our daughter”)
  • Include proper titles (i.e., Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.)
  • Avoid abbreviations such as “Rd.,” “Toronto, ON,” “a.m.,” etc.
  • Spell out times and dates (i.e., “one o’clock on Sunday, July the eleventh”)
  • Put the full date so there is no confusion (i.e., “Saturday, August the second” rather than “August the second”)

Mail them out on time

When your invitations need to be sent depends on the nature of the event. A wedding or other elaborate celebration requires at least two months’ notice, while a dinner or cocktail party can get by with a mere notice of two or more weeks. The important thing is to ensure your guests have enough time to receive the invitation and consider their availability before the R.S.V.P. date passes. Not allowing enough time for response can leave your guests feeling flustered at the short notice or unimpressed you sent them out so late.

Make replying convenient

How you want your guests to reply is completely up to you. For a formal affair such as a wedding, it is most common to include a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope along with an R.S.V.P. card for their convenience. For a more casual affair, however, offering your email address or phone number as a means of reply is perfectly acceptable.

Look it over

The most crucial step in the invitation process is the proofread. You really cannot read it over too many times. You should feel 110 per cent certain no pieces of information are missing and there are no spelling errors before you seal them up and send them off.

Don’t stress

There are a lot of old etiquette rules when it comes to sending out invitations, but many people use them so rarely, they won’t even notice if something is a little off. Though it’s only natural that you want to impress everyone, you can only do your best, and then it’s out of your hands. So have fun with the planning, and try not to worry too much if something is a little askew.

more on entertaining

How to always be prepared for guests
10 Hostess fails
Proper etiquette when hosting a dinner party

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