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Invitation & Attire Etiquette

Date: 5/3/2010
Written By: Annie Cater, 'Queen of Etiquette'


Your invitation should be so clear that your guests will have no questions. R.S.V.P. or R.s.v.p. from the French phrase "Répondez s'il vous plait," means "Please respond." It also refers to respond RIGHT NOW! In diplomatic events upper case letters are correct. 

Formal dinner invitations should be mailed 3 to 4 weeks in advance. It is a given right for the host or hostess to ask you to reply by a certain date. If you decline, someone else can be invited. If you accept or decline, do it graciously. Never, Never send a formal invitation by facsimile or email. This certainly applies to wedding invitations.
An invitation to you is yours. Never bring an unexpected guest. Regrets only.. only call the host or hostess if you have something personal to discuss with them, i.e. you are allergic to shellfish, your head will swell up and you will be dead in seven seconds. The host should know that before serving you lobster bisque.
Invitations to weddings, dances, balls, official functions or events when you pay to attend have "no return" obligations. Parties in private homes, brunches, lunches, teas, cocktails or dinner parties "do" require a return invitation. 

The conventional form of Mr. & Mrs. is always in order. In an invitation to two people with different names, two lines are used. An invitation should never be addressed to an invitee and their guest or escort. Take the time to find out who the guest or escort is and then include their name on the invitation. 

Dress Invitation - in the bottom right-hand corner - attire should be noted. 

White tie - most formal-wing collar for men; women in long gowns. 
Black tie - tuxedo, soft shirt, bow tie for men; long gown or short cocktail dress for women. 
Black tie optional - no such thing! It is either black tie or it is not. Semi-formal or cocktail should apply if not black tie.
Semi-formal or cocktail - suit and tie for men; dresses or good trouser suits for women
Casual - "whatever" is appropriate.