Formatting an Invitation

So you’re throwing a party?!  Whoo hoo!  Choosing the right invitation and wording it properly can set the tone for the entire shin-dig, and even influence your turn-out.  To help you pack the house, clearly outline all the details guests will need on the actual invite, making it as easy as possible for them to say “yes”.

Sometimes even the most verbose of us are at a loss for words.  So we’ve provided some guidelines on what information to include.  Add your own personal flair to get the party started and let the party animal out of the cage.  Rrraww!

Invitation Basics

Determine what kind of event you are hosting on a casual to formal scale.  Our invitations and announcements are perfect for a casual to semi-casual fête.  Your personal wording should reflect the nature of the party.  Then follow the old “who, what, where, when and why” rule of thumb, only not necessarily in that order.  Imagine yourself standing face-to-face with an invitee – in what order would you normally give the information in a casual conversation?  We’ll let that imaginary conversation guide us below.

YOU: Hey – I’m having a party for Sam’s birthday.  Wanna come?

First up is usually the “What” and “Why”.  I.e. Surprise Party for Suki’s 55th.  Or a Wedding Shower for Mary and Robert.  Be explicit enough to hook them, but don’t feel that you need to go into detail here.  If this is a more formal event, you may use lead-ins such as: “You are cordially invited to…”, “The honor of your presence is requested at…”, “We request the pleasure of your company at…”, “Please join us for a…”, etc.  If it’s a casual thing, just say what it is.

INVITEE: Oh – a party for Sam?!  When is it?

Second is usually the “when”.  Date and time go here.  Again, formality will dictate whether you use numerals or abbreviations.  For informal events it’s acceptable to write “Sunday, June 5 at 6:00 p.m.”, while formal affairs might warrant “Sunday, the fifth of June at six o’clock in the evening”.  If you have a hard and fast ending time, or you want to manage the time, indicate the ending time as well: “Sunday, June 5, 12 noon to 4 pm”.  It’s your responsibility to set expectations up front and provide them the information needed to be considerate guests.  If you didn’t put an ending time, don’t blame your guests when the neighbors call the cops!

INVITEE: I think I’m in free that weekend.  Where is to going to be?

Location, location, location.  Your party spot usually comes next.  Your guest list will dictate how much information you need to put here, as well as whether or not you will have any inserts in the envelope.  If you’re inviting the Bunko gang, a simple “Sherri’s House” may suffice.  However if it’s a wedding and out-of-town guests are on the list, give more detail: “St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main Street, Houston, Texas”.  Don’t put directions here unless they define the location, for instance, City Park Gazebo at the corner of Main and Broadway.

INVITEE:  Cool.  I know where that is and I think I can come.  Is there anything else I should know?

Here’s where additional and critical information comes in.  Who are the hosts?  What is the dress code?  Should guests bring anything?  Are other guests, kids, dogs or even aliens welcome?  Is there anything else pertinent they need to know?  Now’s the time to succinctly list it.

YOU: Just let me know for sure if you’re coming so I can lock up the valuables!  Ha ha!

Last, but definitely not least, is the RSVP.  RSVP is the abbreviation for the French: répondez s’il vous plait, or please respond.  There are several ways to reply, including an enclosed formal reply card (a smaller card they mail back to you with their written attendance response), the telephone number of the host(s), or these days, an email address.  Again, formality and personal preferences will dictate how you ask for a response.  A reply card is laughable for a backyard BBQ, and an email address is inappropriate for all but the most casual weddings.  But a phone and/or email is just fine for that same BBQ invite.  If you need to know by a certain date (so food can be ordered for instance), state that date clearly: “RSVP 800-555-1212 by March 15.  Other options instead of “RSVP” might be “The favor of a reply is requested,” “Please reply” or “Regrets only” if you like to live on the edge.

The Rules

We’re all for bucking tradition, but there are some standards we will discuss here.

Fishing for gifts: We all know that many parties involve some sort of tacit solicitation for gifts.  It is always acceptable to state “no gifts” on your invites, but the situation will dictate when you should list registry information on invites.  For weddings, even second nuptials or beyond, it is never appropriate to put registry information on the invitation.  For showers you may discretely include cards from registry stores that guests can select from, or list if gifts should fit a theme (e.g. a hardware shower for the groom, a lingerie shower for the bride, or a book shower for baby).  And never ever, under any circumstance, ask for money on an invite.

Mailing timeframe:  Pull out your calendar for this one.  First, the scale of the party will help dictate the lead-time necessary, as well as whether guests are coming from far away.  For a wedding, or ball, where travel plans or specific wardrobes might need to be arranged, the more advance notice, the better.  Then consider the surrounding dates.  Does it fall near a holiday weekend, or big event?  If you’re hosting a party on a bowl game weekend, more notice will improve your turn-out.  Even for a simple children’s birthday, mail your invitations so they arrive no less than 2 weeks before your event date.

Children’s parties:  You will most definitely want to put a start and ending time on any party involving minors.  Not only do parents need to know when to pick up older kids, it’s a savvy mom who realizes that kiddie tantrums get more frequent the longer the party goes on.  Keep young guests lists at a manageable level – experts recommend one attendee per year of the child.  Expert mommies recommend four hours or less.  Because there’s nothing worse than watching the guest-of-honor have a melt-down.

Thank yous:  As the host, be prepared to send out a thank you or two after the party.  A short note to thank guests who went above and beyond normal helper mode may be in order.

Sample Invitation Wording

When wording invitations, the possibilities are endless (see Formatting an Invitation).  It all depends on the unique event and the personality of the honoree and host.  We’ve provided a few basic samples below.  If you have invitation text you’d like to share with us (personal information will be excluded), contact us and share your creativity with other Expressionery invitations and announcements customers!

Formal Generic Function

You are cordially invited
to a celebratory dinner honoring
fifty years of marriage of
Dale and Naomi Wilson

Friday, the tenth of April
Seven o’clock in the evening

Grotto Ristorante
4715 Westheimer
Houston, Texas
No gifts, please.

RSVP 713-555-1212 by the sixth of April

Informal Generic Function

It’s a Baby Shower
for Jen Duley and baby girl Duley!

Saturday, July 15
2 pm – 6 pm
2435 Goodwin Lane
New Braunfels, Texas

Hosted by
Johanna Martini and Nydia Perez

OR call Johanna at 210-555-1212

Sample Wedding Shower Invitation

Paula Marcus
Joe Jamison
are tying the knot!
Come celebrate the couple
with us at a
kitchen shower and pizza party

We’ll stock their new kitchen with
gourmet goodies and chow on
Joe’s famous brick oven pizza!

Saturday, July 25
5 pm – 10 pm

2435 Goodwin Lane
New Braunfels, Texas

Please respond by Friday, July 24
Michelle Santos 830-555-1212

Sample Child’s Birthday Invitation

Little Lily’s turning two
and she wants to celebrate with you!

Sunday, November 12
2 – 5 pm

2435 Goodwin Lane
New Braunfels, Texas

Dress for fun and crafts!
We’re going to get creative!

RSVP to Liz Williams

Sample Rehearsal Dinner Invitation

Grayce and John Smith
cordially invite you to a
Rehearsal Dinner
on the eve of the wedding of
Glenn Smith
Kristine Wilson

Friday, April 7
7 pm

The Wendeltrap
2301 Strand
Galveston, Texas

Regrets only

Sample Baby Announcement

It’s a Boy!

Alyssa and Jeremy Hines
proudly announce
the arrival of
Brando Vincenzio Hines

August 12th
5:38 am
7 lbs. 8 oz.
22 inches

Kyle, Texas

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