The main objective is to make sure that guests know the who, what, when, and where of the event. And although your invitation is much the same as any other invitation, it's a visual statement before the guest even reads the words. It conveys the formality and tone of your event through the formality of the paper, letter font, and style; the more formal the occasion, the more formal the invitation.

Guidelines for writing invitations:

  • State the occasion, date, time, and place. Include addresses and a map if necessary. Mention if refreshments will be served. List any charges that may apply. Include a telephone number for RSVPs. If there is a dress code, state the preferred dress in the lower left-hand corner of the card.

  • If you need a response, include a self-addressed, stamped reply card or envelope with your invitation.

  • Express that you are looking forward to seeing the person.

  • Do not use abbreviations and do not use contractions (don't; we'll) except for name titles, such as Mr., Mrs., etc.

  • If dinner will be served, state two separate times: the time people can start arriving and the time dinner will be served.

  • If you do not want gifts, briefly state that gifts are not wanted or needed. Explain that their presence is the only gift you need.

  • Make sure you send your invitations out with ample advance notice.

  • If you have guests coming from out of town or from other countries, you may want to send out your invitation several months in advance (especially if your event takes place around a holiday.) This will allow your guests adequate time to make preparations, reservations, save money, etc.

  • For smaller, less formal events that include local guests or guests from nearby areas, you may only need to provide a few weeks notice.

  • If you are inviting someone to speak at a conference, your invitation should include the following information:

    • Name of the conference and the sponsoring organization;

    • Date, time, place of the conference and speech;

    • Type of audience;

    • The type of speech, topic, and how long the speech should be;

    • Any accommodations that will be made, including lodging, meals, and transportation;

    • The name of the contact person along with phone numbers and addresses where the person can be contacted; and

    • Finally, articulate your pleasure of having the person speak at the meeting or conference.

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