Invitation Etiquette

When is a text invite ok? Are formal paper invites still used? In a Digital World the options can get confusing.

Invitation etiquette has certainly relaxed over the last decade; very rarely do we now receive elaborate formal written invitations.

It can be confusing knowing which invite option is the most suitable but the importance of an invitation remains the same because firstly, it sets the tone of the event and secondly, it tells your guests what is required of them.

There are four main ways of inviting your guests to an occasion that you are hosting depending on how formal and how traditional you would like to be:

  • Text
  • Email
  • Phonecall
  • Written

The majority of invitations are now sent via text and email. Occasionally a phonecall is made and even more infrequently a paper invite is sent.

Each of these methods should still be well thought through and they should all provide the following:

Casual Verbal Invitations

If you are offering an invitation to close friends or family then it is perfectly acceptable to do so by telephone. Do ensure your guests have absolute clarity on the essential information as stated above.

The phone invitations should be made a week or two in advance.

Sometimes verbal invitations are offered at the end of an evening with friends, often after several glasses of wine have been consumed, and when invitation etiquette is not necessarily at the forefront of our minds!

If you are the recipient of a grand gesture then it is wise to ask the potential host to confirm the details the next day. If you don’t hear from them then it is safe to assume the conversation has been long forgotten.

Vice versa, if you are providing the “seemed like a good idea at the time” invite then be sure to follow it up the next day. And of course, it is not good invitation etiquette to invite someone in person in front of people that aren’t included.

E-mail, Social Networking and Text Message Invites

Many invites are now sent via email, social networking sites and text messages. They are considered more casual forms of invites and not normally used for a formal occasion, but nonetheless they should still contain the same information.

In my experience the one piece of detail often missing from casual invites is the Dress Code. Deciding what to wear to someone’s house for dinner can be tricky so even if you are only issuing an 'at home' invite do give your guests an idea of what is expected.

If, like me, you like the elegant tone of a formal invite then an email with an invitation attachment can be a good compromise and it allows you some creativity.

Digital invites should be sent about three weeks or so in advance.

If you are inviting friends and colleagues from a wide circle of friends then it is good invitation etiquette to suppress your guests’ email addresses to protect their privacy.

You will also need to follow up your RSVP’s in case your recipient did not receive their invite due to spam filters etc.

Formal Written Invitations

Sending a formal written invitation should be saved for dinner parties, big birthday invitations, cocktail parties or any formal event.

If you are sending a formal invite then I believe you are making a statement to say that the cost of the event will be borne by you, the host.

There are a great many choices of invites available and you should choose one that reflects the tone of the occasion and the theme, if appropriate. 

If you really want to splash out then have invites specifically designed and printed with your own invitation wording, or, you can purchase ready to go invites where the finer details just need to be completed.

Where can you get your own invitations printed?

I used an online company, 'Zazzle', for my 40th Birthday Party in 2012. They have hundreds of templates to choose from which you can customise yourself online; great fun! I highly recommend them.

What other Communication Graces can you learn about on this site?

Correspondence Etiquette

How to RSVP

Thank You Note Etiquette

Sympathy Card Etiquette

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About The Author

The Author, Emma Dupont, runs various courses in London during the year.

Next Courses:

Children's 4-Week Etiquette Programme

3/10/17/24 March 2017

Belgravia, London


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Business Networking & Corporate Entertaining Masterclass

28 March 2017

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The English Social Season Etiquette Masterclass

21 April 2017

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The Theory of English Dining Etiquette

25 April 2017

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29 April 2017

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