Invitation Etiquette Tips You Really Must Know

No matter how helpful modern technology is, there’s no denying we sometimes find ourselves needing to go back to traditional ways of communication. As much as digital services have brought us together, they’ve also set us apart on some level. However, we’re not here to get all chatty about the pros and cons of smartphones and social media. We’re here to talk about responding to classic, mail-in invitations.

Most young people rarely communicate through letters and their post offices. Sure enough, they don’t even pay their bills the old way. It means that formal ways of communication can become somewhat problematic. Proper etiquette when you have an invitation is essential for leaving a good impression on your host. Therefore, let’s talk about birthday parties, fancy dinners, and wedding invitations, shall we?

Why This Stuff Is Important

Namely, formal invitations are not that common in our everyday lives. No matter how old you might be, you can’t count that many letters that require you to respond with style. So, learning how to do it properly will make sure you sleep soundly at night, knowing you didn’t mess something up. On the other hand, it will also help you make a proper future invitation to your friends and family.

You see, planning an event can be a headache if you’re doing it for the first time all by yourself. Making sure you have spare seats, lots of space, and enough food and drink can become rocket science for some. And if you don’t make everything go according to plan, you can easily ruin the whole event.

It’s important to make sure your guests are aware of what kind of party you’re inviting them to, the date-time, the dress code, and so on. These are all lines your guest card needs to include, no matter if it’s a dinner party or a destination wedding in the everglades. Furthermore, an interesting and stylish invitation letter can also add to the event itself.


Although most invitations are similar in content, some will include an important detail you might not recognize. Of course, we’re talking about RSVP. It’s short for the French phrase “repondez s’il vou plait,” which means “please respond.” It’s a pretty standard line in most formal letters. So, it’s crucial that you notice it.

Like we’ve said, inviting guests can be one hell of a nightmare if you don’t know how many people will show up. Therefore, asking guests to confirm whether they’ll come helps organize space, number of seats, beverages, etc. RSVP is a great way to help the host prepare their event as well as they can.

However, ordinary people don’t know how to respond to invitations that have RSVP written on them. In reality, there’s only one important thing to keep your eye on when dealing with this “problem.”

Namely, RSVP usually has a date next to it. That means that you should make sure you send your response in a timely fashion to the return address. No matter if you’re declining or accepting the invitation, replying on time will make sure you don’t mess up your host’s plans, and it will help everything go as smoothly as possible.

How to Respond Properly

Besides replaying on time, there are a few other things you should consider before you file your response card. They all apply for both accepting and declining the invitation. From making your response clear to your tone, these are all things you need to make sure your letter includes.

Firstly, you should thank your host for inviting you. There is no need for a long and boring pile of sentences. Just make it brief. Next up, state whether you’re coming or not. Your message needs to be clear and easily understandable. There’s no need for a long list of reasons why you’re not coming, they’re just looking for registry information for their guest list, after all.

Also, make sure the tone of your letter matches the tone of the invitation. In case your host is laid back and chill, respond in the same fashion. On the other hand, if they’re formal and uptight, make sure your response is the same.

However, some people panic when they need to decline their host’s invitation. We understand that. You just don’t want to appear rude or uninterested and hurt the host’s feelings. But, it’s not that complicated. Thank them for thinking about you and follow it up by stating that you’re not going to make it. Depending on the tone of the invitation, you can state your reasons for not coming.

Rules on Plus Ones

Most invitations for events will include the “plus one” part. Depending on their context, they’ll phrase it differently. In case you’re inviting people to a wedding or something more formal, you should always state both guests’ names. But if you only know that one person and not their partner, it won’t be rude to just write their name and add “and guest.”

On the other hand, casual evenings and dinners don’t require such formality. Stating only first names or just addressing someone directly and including their partner will work just fine. In the end, it all depends on the context of the event.

You might want to see this guide to plus-one etiquette for parties

Change in Plans

Sometimes, things just happen out of the blue, and you need to reschedule your plans. No matter if you’re the host or the attendee, if that happens, it’s more than appropriate for you to inform others about it. Sure, no one wants to be that one person who cancels, but things just happen in life. And in case something comes up, make sure you do the following.

Firstly, inform your host/guests on time. As soon as you realize you can’t make it, make sure others get the information. Use the same tone as your initial card/response to keep up with continuity. Clearly state that the event is off or that you can’t come, and end it with your hopes of seeing them soon.

Say “Thank You”

No matter the context of the event, invitation etiquette is all about being classy and polite. You want your guests or hosts to feel good about the event or their invitation. And what better way to do so than by writing “thank you” in your card?

In case you’re the one who’s inviting people over, you can apply “thank you” next to your RSVP part. Say that you’re thankful in advance for their on-time response and add something like “best regards” or “best wishes.” Keep it simple yet classy.

On the other hand, if you’re responding to someone’s invitation, “thank you” is pretty much mandatory. No matter if you’re coming or not, show your appreciation is always the right way to go.

However, all these tips will fall short if you don’t make sure your cards are on time. The best way to tell someone that you appreciate them is to respect their time and effort. After all, class is just like happiness — it’s in little things we often overlook.