How to word a formal party invitation

Updated February 21, 2017

Throwing a formal party starts with writing the invitation. It sets the tone for a party by giving guests an idea of what to expect and what is expected of them, should they attend. Writing your party invitation is easy once you know the steps.

Start with your guests. Begin by addressing the them with a phrase like "The honor of your presence is requested." You could also be a little less formal and more modern by saying "Please join us."

Explain the event. Guests need to know exactly what you're inviting them to and what the purpose of the gathering is. This is the part of the invitation where you acknowledge the guest of honor also. This section may go something like this: " a cocktail party in honor of Margaret Simpson's retirement from General Electric after 50 years of service."

Give time and location. To make this part of the invitation more formal, you may spell out the date, such as, "On the fifth day of September, two thousand seven, at eight o'clock in the evening."

Request a response. Formal parties require more planning than casual get-togethers, so a response to the invitation is crucial. Depending on the size of the event and the needs of your caterer, you may choose to ask guests to respond only if they won't be attending. For detailed responses like the number of people and their dinner choice, you can include a response card. Otherwise, a statement such as "The courtesy of a response is requested by August 27" or the less formal "RSVP by August 27" will do.


Make response cards simple for guests by providing a line for their name and some boxes to check to indicate dinner choice. Don't expect them to write you a note. To be extra courteous, include postage on the return envelope. Understand that not everyone will reply appropriately, so plan for your actual number of guests to vary slightly from the number of responses.

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