Whether you are planning a party, wedding, christening or birthday, invitations will make up a good portion of the planning process. An invitation is, of course, how your guests will learn that their presence is requested. It’s also used to convey information about the location, date and time, who the event is for, and sometimes even a required dress code where relevant.
You may wonder: are paper party invitations really required for every kind of event? Aren’t paper invitations always a bit formal, and best reserved for important gatherings, rather than casual ones?
In fact, paper party invitations can come across as either formal or informal, depending on their style, the wording, and the content of the invite itself. It’s always worth using paper party invitations for any kind of bash, whether it’s your little one’s space-themed third birthday party or a glamorous golden anniversary ball.
In this guide, you’ll learn the difference between formal and informal party invitations, so you can decide which would best suit your upcoming party.
What is a Formal Party Invitation?
A formal invitation is one that has strict rules and etiquette that must be followed. It is typically used for formal events, such as:
2) Anniversary parties
3) Dinner parties
4) Award ceremonies
6) Black tie events
Formal invitations can also be used for important or milestone birthday parties, which you want your guests to take seriously – e.g. a 50th birthday meal.
Sending out a formal invitation will set the tone of the event early on; it should reflect the theme of the event, and depict what is required from the guest attending.
What is an Informal Party Invitation?
An informal invitation is one that is more appropriate for a casual or laid-back event, such as:
2) Kid’s birthdays
3) Most adult birthdays
4) Baby showers
5) House parties
6) Homecoming parties
7) Holiday parties (e.g. Easter, Christmas, Halloween)
The benefit of an informal invitation is that it has no strict rules it must adhere to, and so can design it to look however you want it to. They are usually written in first person, and in a more conversational, rather than traditional tone.
With informal invitations, you can branch out and use your creativity, making it as original and to your exact design and needs for your event.
What Wording Should I Use?
Whether you’re planning a wedding or a birthday party, the wording of your invitation can be important in setting the tone of the event to come, and will help your guests determine what kind of event they are attending, and how they should prepare for it.
Formal Invitation Wording
As mentioned before, formal invitations have a certain set of rules and etiquettes they have to stick to, which includes not just the way it is written but also the type of information about the event that must be included. Things that should be included in a formal invitation are:
Date and Time
It is important that the date of the event is written out using letters, rather than numbers, and it mustn’t be abbreviated. For example, Saturday 16th September should instead be written out as Saturday the sixteenth of September.
The time of the event must also be written out and must use phrases such as ‘in the morning’ for events set between midnight and midday, ‘in the afternoon’ for events set between midday and 6pm, and ‘in the evening’ for events set between 6pm and midnight.
Examples of this would be ‘Ten thirty in the morning’, or ‘Nine forty five in the evening.’ If the time is on the hour, then o’clock may be used, for example ‘Two o’clock in the afternoon.’
As with the date, the address must be written out fully, with no abbreviations. So, 56 London Ave would become 56 London Avenue, or even Fifty-six London Avenue for ultra-formal occasions.
When addressing the guests, full, non-abbreviated names must be used; Samantha instead of Sam, Thomas instead of Tom. Surnames must also be included if you know them. If you are inviting someone with a title other than Mr, Mrs or Ms, then you must use their correct title, such as Doctor.
One of the most important rules of a formal invitation is the inclusion of the host or hosts. By mentioning them on the invitation, the guests know who is organising the event. This is especially important when inviting guests to a wedding.
This should also be written out fully with no abbreviations, and should be paired with the initials and/or logo of the party organiser.
Other Important Details for Formal Invitations
Other things to include in your formal invitation include:
1) Third person wording. Instead of ‘I am inviting you to an awards ceremony’, instead ‘Emma Falcon requests the pleasure of your company at…’ It is also important that the invitation is typed, and using a formal, serif font such as Times New Roman.
2) The reason why the event is being held e.g. ‘to celebrate’ or ‘to honour’ and whether it is a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary or awards ceremony (for example).
3) The dress code. There are several types of attire for a formal event, and each type is very specific to the type of event. Therefore, you must inform the guests of the expected dress code, such as white tie, black tie, formal, cocktail, etc.
4) RSVP instructions. This is required atevents where you need to have a head count
beforehand, so that catering or drinks may be planned in advance. With your invitation, a card should be included along with a prepaid envelope with a response address on it. The RSVP should include the deadline by which it should be returned, a space for the guests to write their name, and two options for the response, with phrases such as ‘accepts with pleasure’ or ‘declines with regret’. If needed, you can also include a space for a meal choice.
Formal invitations are traditionally printed on high-quality cardstock in white, ivory, or cream, and will use accent colours that match the colours for the event. Try to avoid using a gaudy or loud colour scheme for a formal event, as this will look out of place!
For example, this Enchanted Evening template would be perfect for any formal party, with its classic black and white colour scheme featuring delicate fleur de lis motifs.
Informal or Casual Party Invite Wording
When it comes to creating an invitation for an informal event, you have a lot more flexibility with how you write it, as well as what information needs to be included, it does not need all the etiquette and rules that are required for a formal event.
The important things to include for an informal invitation are:
1) The date of the event, which you can write in any format you like
2) The time. You can afford to be a bit more flexible with how you write your timings with an informal event. You could put the exact start and end times, such as 1pm – 10pm; or you could avoid specifying the end time, e.g. ‘8 till late’. For super casual events you could be even vaguer e.g. ‘noonish’ if you don’t really mind what time guests turn up.
3) The location – no need for any abbreviations here, just write it in a way you feel comfortable. Include the full address or just ‘Emily’s place’ for example, if you’re sure everyone knows where the host lives!
4) The hosts – although informal, it is still important to let your guest know who it is that is inviting them (unless it’s obvious, e.g. the guests know whose birthday it is)
5) The guests – you may address the guests in anyway you like, whether it is their full name or an informal nickname you have for them!
6) The RSVP instructions – as as you can be more creative with an informal invitation, you don’t need to provide a separate card for the response. Instead you can choose to simply include an email address or phone number for your guests to send their acceptance or refusal.
With an informal invitation, the tone can be a lot more casual and warmer. You have the opportunity to make it as personal if you like – use whatever slang or abbreviations you’re comfortable with, and write it in first person if you’d prefer!
You can also have a lot more fun with the colour scheme and artwork if you’re hosting a casual party. For example, this bright and bold Party Clown invitation would be ideal for a child’s birthday party.
Where Can I Order Personalised Party Invitations?
If you’re looking for high-quality, professionally printed party invitations at an affordable price point, look no further than 123Print. We offer a huge variety of party invitation templates, wedding invitation templates and an array of other stationery for any use imaginable!
With both formal and informal designs available in various themes and colour schemes, you’re bound to find an invitation to suit your event down to the ground. All of our invitations are fully customisable at no extra cost, so you can add your personal details, alter the wording and change the font style and colour to suit your preferences.
Join our thousands of happy customers today and get ordering your party invitations with a click of a button!