Custom Creations Unlimited Personalized invitations, Photo Cookies, Photo Blankets, Photo Towels and candy bar wrappers Need help?
Try our FAQ's or
630-665-1969
Your cart is empty

First Impressions: Invitation Etiquette

Invitations are essential for any party or organized event. Not only do they extend an invite to guests, they also provide a first impression – of what your event will be like. And like any 'first impression,' you want to make a good one.

Rules of Etiquette

There was a time when every invitation was handwritten, an RSVP at the bottom. A time when guests would reply on personal stationery and then dispatch the RSVP immediately back. Those times are gone. However, despite changes to how invitations are sent and received, the etiquette behind them remains pretty well intact. Even in these less formal times.

Phase 1: When to Send

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, 'You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.' When it comes to planning events, one thing’s for certain: Time flies. For this reason alone, you should always keep to a schedule; and when it comes to invitations, it means sending them with time to spare.

Indeed, what could be worse than to send an invitation late? Not only will those invited have little time to decide, you too will be in limbo – uncertain of the head count, what the menu should be like, how to arrange seating, etc.

No, sending invitations late serve no purpose other than to put you and your guests in a scramble. So, when should you send your invitations out? Etiquette says:

  1. For formal events, send invitations at least 6-8 weeks before. This gives guests enough time to decide (plan for travel, make arrangements at home); and, if it’s an event where they should bring a gift, it also gives them time to shop.
  2. For casual affairs, such as a dinner party, invitations can be sent out later – but not too late. Be thoughtful. Always give your guests enough time to decide and plan.
  3. For planned events, such as a reunion or milestone anniversary, consider sending a 'Save the Date' card. These can be sent 3 months in advance and help guests make decisions/plans, especially if the event takes place during the holidays.

Phase 2: The Composition

Today, stationers have catalogs filled with ideas on how to best word an invitation. With slight tweaks, any invitation can be transformed into an original just for you.

All invitations should cover the same information:

The purpose of the event (birthday party, reunion, open house, baby shower)
The name of the honoree
The name of the host(s) or sponsors
The day and date of the event
The time of the event
The name of the place and the location

Phase 3: The Wording

As for how to word an invitation, you’ll find some of the social rules of the past have been eased a bit. For instance, etiquette says that all phrasing should be in the third person. While this still holds true for formal occasions, such as a wedding, this isn’t necessarily so for a luau or a graduation party. Again, you want your invitation to reflect your event.

With this said, here are a few etiquette rules that are still applied to invitations – with some leeway:

  1. For formal invitations, all phrasing should be in the third person (he, she, they, their), with British spellings; for casual invitations, first person is acceptable.
  2. For formal invitations, do not use abbreviations; for casual invitations, this is acceptable.
  3. Days, dates, and times are always spelled out (e.g. Monday or December).
  4. For formal invitations, times and years should be spelled out (e.g. 'Four o’clock in the afternoon'); for casual invitations, numbers are fine (e.g. 11:30 AM)
  5. Only capitalize proper nouns or to start a new line.
  6. It is impolite to state, 'No children allowed' on an invitation. There are more tactful ways to let guests know. For instance, including 'Adult reception' as a right footnote on the RSVP card should given them an idea. On the invitation itself, only name those invited.
  7. Mentioning attire should be avoided; your invitation should be the clue (e.g. if the event takes place after 6 p.m., it’s formal). However, if the event is themed, like a luau, then it’s perfectly fine to provide further instruction. In fact, most guests will welcome the hint, as it eliminates any anxiety over 'what to wear.'
  8. Do not mention gifts. The only exception is a baby or wedding shower, where gifts are implicit. In such cases, you could give guests some guidance, especially if there’s a preference, such as an eco-friendly baby shower where gifts should be reusable.

In Summary

As you can see, there are still certain rules that a good host should follow. Not only is it social courtesies, but bottom line – it helps 'you.' Invitations are critical to the success of any event: You want to make a great first impression and you want to stay organized.

Indeed, so much depends on the invites (and their RSVP) and invitation etiquette provides some sanity in an otherwise frenzied time. Follow the rules (with some acceptable exceptions) and you’ll be off to a perfect start.

Custom Creations Unlimited uses Secure SSL Shopping and accepts All Major Credit Cards
UPS Shipping
Custom Creations Unlimited accepts VisaCustom Creations Unlimited accepts MastercardCustom Creations Unlimited accepts DiscoverCustom Creations Unlimited accepts American Express Custom Creations Unlimited accepts PayPal
20 Danada Square West, #181, Wheaton, Illinois 60189
Copyright © 2017 Custom Creations Unlimited, Inc. Powered by Zen Cart. Designed and maintained by Wheaton Website Services.