There are many things to remember when it comes to invitations. The following should give you a brief overview of invitation etiquette, as well as links to more specific and detailed information.
When to send invitations
There are varying opinions out there regarding when an invitation should be sent out, but the general rule of thumb is somewhere between six and eight weeks. If your guests will have to travel long distances, you may want to give them even more notice. If the idea for party materializes on a whim and you want to have a party soon, say two to six weeks away, get your invitations out as soon as the details are finalized to give your guests as much time as possible to free up the date and time.
How and when to RSVP
We have a great article on just that topic, but the general rule is to respond promptly, within 2-3 days or by the date on the invitation, and in kind, following the instructions given. For more information, check out our article titled, “How To Write A Formal RSVP To An invitation.”
What information should be included
The kind of party and the tone of the party will dictate what information beyond the basics will be included, but you’ll want to make sure you include these basic things: the Who (who is the party for, who’s hosting, etc.), the What (what kind of party is it?), the Where (at the very least the address of the party. In some cases you may consider including a map), and the When (the date and time of the party). There’s plenty of information beyond that you might want to include depending on the party. For instance, if it’s a bridal shower, you might include where the bride to be is registered. If it’s a Halloween party, you might include special instructions, such as whether you’d like your guests to arrive in costume, etc. We’ve got plenty of information available for all these varying scenarios in our articles section.
Changing your plans
If you’ve already RSVP’d to an invitation, plan on attending. There are only a few reasons where it’s considered acceptable to back out: an illness, a death in the family, or an unforeseen and unavoidable business or professional conflict. Notify the host as soon as you know you’ll be changing your plans. If you RSVP and do not show up, plan on not being invited to any future events from that host.
Especially in regards to formal wedding invitations, the persons listed on the invitation are the only ones invited. There is no need to ask the host if you can bring a date, your children, roommates, etc. If they were invited, the invitation would have included them. In some cases the invitation will say you can bring a guest, and you may bring whomever you wish.
Addressing wedding invitations
We have a great article on this topic as well. Some rules to remember are do not use abbreviations, include full names, list the head of the household on the outer envelope but list everyone who’s invited on the inner envelope (this only applies to invitations with two envelopes). For more information, see our article titled, “Addressing Wedding Invitation Etiquette.”
Don’t forget the thank you note!
Whether it’s for a birthday, a wedding, a christmas party or a business dinner, it is always good form to send a handwritten thank you note. If you ever find yourself questioning whether or not a situation merits a thank you note, send one anyway. It’s better to be thought of as unnecessarily appreciative than ungrateful.