I is for Invitations

Posted on by Beyond Bespoke

A-Z of British Etiquette

Which are categorically never referred to as Œinvites.

Sadly, the modern age has meant that most summonses to a soiree will come electronically, although correctly they should come through the post. You can easily judge a party by the way in which you are invited. A stiffie through your letterbox heralds something all together more formal, whereas something popping up on Facebook probably means it’s going to be more relaxed.

A whole guide could be dedicated to the different forms of invitations but space, time and lack of interest by 97% of the population alas prohibits us from covering the nuances. For formal invitations, let us focus on the general rules of thumb as to what goes where on an invitation.

The top left is where the guests name is written, by hand in blue or black ink. In the centre is the main information (who, where, when). In the bottom left, the RSVP details (if an address is listed, you write your reply, if a telephone number is listed, you may call, if a Twitter handle is listed, don’t go).  The bottom right has the additional information (what, time, dress code).

A staple of any host or hostess’ stationery armory is the Œstock card. These are half-printed cards where the specifics are filled in by hand. A stock card for women will read something along the lines of ŒMrs George Featherstonehaugh At Home (across two lines) with her RSVP details in the bottom left. Each time said lady goes to host a semi-formal event then she will fill in time, date and dress code by hand before sending.

Not that single male hosts are never ŒAt Home, they simply Œrequest the pleasure of your company. Stock cards are printed on 4×6 inches card (cream, white or ivory in colour).

All invitations must be replied to within a few days of receiving them. It is ruder to keep hosts waiting for your reply than just saying that you are unable to attend. No one can go to everything all the time.

William Hanson is the Etiquette and Protocol Consultant for The English Manner. He works with VIP households, diplomats, businessmen, schools and colleges and has advised multinational brands. He is regularly asked by global media to comment on modern manners and social mores.
Image credit: Armorial

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