Formal invitation protocol

Written by jessica m. denmark
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Formal invitation protocol
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Formal invitations require attention to detail and should follow proper etiquette. Formal invitations will include specific wording, will employ quality paper and ink, and will disclose the appropriate information, setting the tone for a high-quality event.

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Paper Selection

Traditionally a cotton or linen invitation in a heavier paper stock suggests a more formal event. The invitation may be embossed or letter pressed for a more distinguished look.

Invitation Components

An invitation line should be followed by a request to attend, then should name the specific event. It will list the date, time and place and most likely request a reply.


In formal invitations, the event's host(s) ask the guests to attend. For example, “Dr. and Mrs. John Smith request your presence.” Rather than list the event as simply a party or celebration, formal invitations will include specifics, such as: “at a five-course dinner celebrating Mary and Robert’s engagement.” Following that will be the date, time and place, all formally written out, for example, “Saturday, the second of November, at seven o’clock in the evening, Timbers Country Club.”


Addressing formal invitations calls for neat and elegant handwriting and proper citation of titles and designation. There should be little to no abbreviation other than Mr. or Mrs., while titled guests are listed first on the invitation, such as Dr. and Mrs. John Smith or Sgt. Judy and Mr. Michael Brown.


Traditional invitations include the invitation itself, reply card and stamped reply envelope, which are placed in an internal envelope, then into the mailing envelope. Occasionally, vellum or translucent tissue paper is used to separate the reply pieces and reply envelope without the internal envelope

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