How to invite. Seems like a pretty easy thing, right? But really, its the culmination of multiple details put in the context of the type of event you want to have. We’ve broken how to invite down, to help, you create the best custom party invitations for any theme.
Formal vs. Casual
If you are having a formal event, it is important to let your guests know so they can dress appropriately. There is a lot of “dress code terminology” out there, so be sure to put in exactly what you expect from your guests. Check out our article “Dress Code Guidelines – Pick the Right Party Attire” for some help with definitions.
Will people have to travel far to the event? If out of town guests will need places to stay, be sure to include nearby airport and hotel information. Will they be required to bring anything? (food, presents etc.) You should tell your guests everything that you want them to know in your invitation details. For example, if you don’t want kids at your event, include “adults only” on your invite. Don’t assume people have the same etiquette or discretion that you would. If it’s vital for the event, include it!
The Guest List
- Wedding Invitations: Make an “A” list and an “Alternates” list. This way if people RSVP no, you can send out additional invites.
- Bridal Showers/Bachelorette Parties: Make sure to only include those who are also invited to the wedding- it’s a little tacky to invite people to the shower who don’t get to witness the big day.
- Family Reunions: Who is invited really depends on what the make-up of your family is. Does everyone live pretty close (parents, siblings, cousins, aunt/uncles, grandparents)? Or is it just for more immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents)? The larger the guest list, the more work and costly the event will potentially be. You also don’t want to exclude your 2nd cousin Jim if he lives in the area you are holding the event.
- Kids Birthdays: A good rule is to limit the number of the child’s friends invited to the child’s age. Example, 3 years old = 3 friends at the party. This keeps the party from getting too overwhelming for your child, and allows you to manage the party while enjoying it, instead of chasing everyone’s children around.
Timeline for Sending Invites
- Birthdays (kids and adults): minimum of 3 to 4 weeks
- Event where travel is involved: at least 6 months
- Family reunions: 12 months +
- Weddings: Save the dates can be sent out 6 months + ahead
- Wedding invites: 6 to 8 weeks
- Class Reunions: 12 months + (people need time to diet)
- Housewarming: 2 to 3 weeks
- Dinner/luncheon: 1 to 2 weeks
- BBQ: 1-2 weeks
Online vs. Print
The great debate. When should you use an online invite and when should you use printed ones?
- With PurpleTrail party invitations, you can personalize any of our amazing designs and either send them online, print at home, or use PurpleTrail Print. Each of these options is very affordable (or even free).
- Formal or Informal: If your event is very formal, say a wedding, having a print invite may be a better option. Its definitely more traditional and a beautiful keepsake for your special day. However, if you are having a more informal or impromptu wedding (Vegas baby, Vegas!) an online invite may be a great way to keep it simple.
- RSVPs: Clearly online invites make it much easier to manage RSVPs. You can send requests for a response for those notorious people who take their sweet time to respond. Print invitations require you to create a log for who has responded and who has not.
- All the extras: Online invites have a lot of extras to offer from easily sending reminders, to uploading photos of the event to share with all the guests, to sending thank you notes after the event. With print invites these things are all available too. They just arent as easily accessed and require a little more work for you.
Should the language be formal or informal? Consider your audience- if you are inviting grandma Kate she may not understand your ever so clever innuendo for cousin Trish’s bridal shower. If appropriate for your guests, use wording that reflects your personality as well as the theme of the event. A good measurement of how formal or informal you should be is how well you know all the guests. Need more inspiration? Check out more invitation wording ideas from PurpleTrail.