How to send out the perfect formal invitation



Formal events require formal invitations to be sent out to guests who must then reply.  Invitations should be sent out as early as possible to provide advance warning to guests, particularly those that may not live nearby.

Guests’ names should be handwritten, in ink,  in the top left corner of the invitation.  The exception to this is when formal invitations have been designed for the name to be written in the middle of the card.

Where guests hold titles, no prefixes are used, an any letters after a name should not be included.

Where it is intended that guests bring their children, it is acceptable for “and Family” to be included on the invitation.  However, when guests have adult children still living at home, it would be correct to send separate invitations to adult children rather than include adult children on their parents’ invitation.  It should therefore go without saying that should a grown up child not receive an invitation, the grown up child is not expected to attend the event.

Traditionally, invitations to a married couple are addressed on the envelope to the wife alone, particularly when the invitation is sent to their home address.  However, both names should appear on the invitation itself.    It is acceptable to include extensions on invitations such as “and Partner”.

If there is more than one hostess, all names are placed on after the other on the invitation.  The first name given should be the one to which replies are to be sent.  Any dress code should be stated implicitly on the invitation.  If no alternative address is provided on the invitation, it should be understood that the event will be held at the property of the first named hostess.

Envelopes should be of a size allowing for papers to be folded once or twice.  Business envelopes and “window” envelopes should always be avoided.  Traditionally, envelopes have a gummed diamond-shaped flap, and envelopes should match the writing paper used.  Stamps should be applied toward the right hand corner of the front of the envelope allowing a neat 1.5cm space between the stamp and the edge of the envelope.

Upon acceptance of an invitation, a name invitee should only be replaced by another guest in extreme circumstances and with the hostess’s express permission.  Likewise, should an invitation be accepted by a guest, it would be very rude to withdraw the acceptance without genuine reason.  In circumstances where invitations have been extended to unnamed guests ( e.g. “and Partner”) the reply to the invitation should include the names of all those attending.

Always take into account the importance of the event to the host and treat the host as you would expect to be treated.

The English School of Manners & Etiquette




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