Words for a formal invitation

Written by k.c. morgan
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Words for a formal invitation
Words used in formal invitations set the tone for the event. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Formal invitations are sent out for weddings, black tie events and other important affairs. Proper wording is very important in formal invitations, which must maintain a very formal tone while supplying recipients with all necessary event information. The words on the invitation will announce who's hosting the party and why, as well as providing potential guests with the date and location of the event.

Visual Presentation

Visually, words on formal invitations should be printed in black ink and an easy-to-read front. Script fonts are commonly used on formal invitations to give them a more stylised appearance. When addressing formal invitations, it's appropriate to write them out by hand rather than using labels.

Names and Titles

Word formal invitations in the third person. For example, do not say "we" or "I" when writing the invitation. Formal invitations come from people, both individuals and groups, but not companies. It is appropriate to say "The President and Staff of XYZ College invites you" rather than "XYZ college invites you." Use proper titles when addressing formal invitations to adults; titles are not necessary for children. When addressing a formal invitation to an unmarried couple of the same or opposite sex, list their names separately with "and" in-between; names should be listed alphabetically. Precede the names of single, adult females with the title Ms.; use Mrs. for married and widowed females. The person or people extending the invitation should be listed at the beginning, with the most senior person being listed first. For example, a formal invitation might read "Mayor John B. Doe and Mrs. Jane A. Doe..." with the remainder of the invitation following.


In formal wedding invitations, British spellings are commonly used when the ceremony is being held at a church (i.e. "favour" and "honour" as opposed to "favor" and "honour"). After the name(s) of the person or people extending the invitation, it is common to extend the formal invitation. For example, "Mayor John B. Doe and Mrs. Jane A. Doe request the honour of your presence" or "request the pleasure of your company." On the next line of the invitation, you will let invitees know what manner of event to which they are being invited: "at the marriage of their daughter, Mary C. Doe, to Joe J. Smith" or "at the second annual Politicians Against Cancer benefit."


The date, time and location of the formal event will follow on the next lines of the invitation. It is not appropriate to use abbreviations, not even for dates and street names, on formal invitations; everything should be spelt out instead. Rather than writing "on Dec. 2, 2016," write "on Sunday, the second of December, two thousand and sixteen." Completely write out the time of the event as well: "at four o'clock in the afternoon" rather than "4:00 p.m." It is acceptable to use numbers in the street address, but not abbreviations. Write out words such as "Street," "Road" and "Avenue." The bottom of the invitation should include additional information pertaining to dress code and RSVP information. "Black tie" is a common way of requesting formal attire; it is also appropriate to ask for "military dress."

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