Formal party invitation etiquette

Written by wendie pecharsky
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Formal party invitation etiquette
Formal party invitations usually follow a set format. (invitation mariage image by Christophe Thélisson from

Certain traditions exist for formal party invitations that have evolved over the years. These include the wording and layout of a formal invitation, and even the proper colour of stationery. While some hosts prefer to adhere to the traditional format for invitations to formal affairs, others choose to adopt some rules and ignore others


Invitations to truly formal events, such as weddings, anniversary parties and bridal showers, include phrases like "The pleasure of your company is requested" and "[hosts' names] request the pleasure of your presence."

Third person is usually used to word formal invitations, with names, and military and academic titles, written out in full. It is acceptable to use Mr. and Mrs. Abbreviations.

Also spelled out are the hour, date and year, as well as words such as Street, Road and Avenue in addresses.

Punctuation at the ends of lines is rarely used, except for commas within lines to separate day from year and city from state.

Invitation Information

A formal invitation always includes the event, honoree, date, time, location, host and, sometimes, RSVP information.

The invitation sometimes lists dress requirements such as "Black tie" or "Formal," but this information can also go on a separate reception card in the lower right-hand corner. "Black tie" or "Formal" usually means tuxedos for men and dresses for women. "White tie" is the most formal dress of all for an evening event. It implies white tie, wing collar and tails for men and long gowns for women.

According to the website LifeTips, for an adults-only party, it is acceptable to include the words "Adult Reception" opposite the RSVP line on the reception card.

Alternatively, dress requirements and RSVP information can be included in smaller type on the invitation itself, if no separate reception card is used.

Information Not Included

It is considered poor manners to include any mention of gifts on a formal party invitation, according to website LIWeddings. The only exception to this rule is for formal wedding shower invitations. For those, it is appropriate to include the theme of the gifts, such as Linens or Kitchen.

In addition, invitations should not refer to the presence or absence of alcohol or beer at the party.

Other Considerations

The weight of the paper chosen for the invitation denotes the formality of the party. According to the Wedding Invitation Etiquette site, a thick, heavyweight paper demonstrates to guests the formality of the occasion and the expense incurred by the hosts.

Cream and off-white are the preferred stationery colours for formal invitations, and invitation layouts kept simple and uncluttered.

Invitation envelopes should avoid address labels and instead by addressed in calligraphy or neat handwriting. Black ink is preferred for formal invitations.

Formal Invitation Alternative

Correspondence cards, which are available in any stationery store, are a less-expensive alternative to pricey engraved invitations to formal affairs. These are preprinted cards, allowing the hosts to simply fill in their names, the type of event, the date, the time and the address of the party location. RSVP information can go in the bottom left-hand corner of the card and dress requirements in the lower right-hand corner.

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