Writing Formal Invitation Letter

Amy Hoover
Compose the invite before you write out the final copy to avoid mistakes.

Particular events and celebrations might require writing formal invitation letters to each guest. But doing so can be difficult in an age where letter writing has fallen to the wayside in lieu of technology, emails, cell phones and other forms of fast communication.

Formal Invites To Formal Parties

Throwing a neighborhood barbeque or pool party does not require a formal invitation. Certain situations, however, do. Events that might call for a formal invitation letter include:

  • Wedding celebrations
  • Fundraising dinners and dances
  • Quinceaneras
  • Christening or baptism celebrations
  • Awards ceremonies
  • Bar or bat mitzvah parties
  • Corporate dinners, balls or events
  • Elegant holiday dinner parties

Almost any event that could be considered "black tie" can merit a formal invitation. Even a teenage boy looking for a creative way to ask a girl to prom can use a formal invitation to get her attention.

Two types of structures can be used when it comes to writing formal invitation letters. The first structure is the most commonly used, and looks similar to most formal wedding invitations. Every line is centered, with script lettering and proper prose. This type of formal invitation is perfect for almost any hosted party or event.

The second is structured similar to the block-style professional letter often used in business correspondence. This type often is sent when a more detailed explanation of the party or event is needed, as it allows more room for details. It is generally used in work situations for corporate fairs, conferences or meetings and not for galas, holiday parties or celebrations.

Writing Formal Invitation Letter: Layout and Wording

For formal celebrations, it is important to understand what is required for the invitation. Before putting pen to paper, know exactly how the invite should appear.

Layout

Use invitation paper that is white or ivory in a heavy stock, sized to approximately five by seven inches. One-inch margins should be left around the centered writing. Text should be in black ink, either handwritten calligraphy or a computer-printed script that is easy to read. Envelopes should be lettered in the same font or handwriting to keep the look consistent.

Wording

The wording used is often respectful in tone and frequently uses third person voice, especially when referring to the host(s). Contractions, abbreviations and nicknames should not be used. Be sure to include all of the pertinent information, such as:

  • Host and hostess
  • Reason for the event
  • Dinner or event time
  • Party date
  • Party address
  • Enclosures (such as a reply card)

Dates and times should be spelled out instead of using numbers. For example, "Friday, March 15th at 9:00 p.m." should be written, "Friday, the fifteenth of March, at nine o'clock in the evening."

Any enclosure listings and additional information should not be centered, but instead, written in the bottom corners. A fundraising charity ball might need to list "Black tie" in the lower right hand corner and "R.S.V.P. card enclosed" in the lower left. Some etiquette guides call for all additional information to be listed together in the lower right hand corner, which is also acceptable.

Formal Invitation Examples

It can be hard to compose a formal invitation without seeing another written. It is possible to find help from software like WriteExpress, but often, just a few examples can help clear up any confusion about writing a formal invitation letter. LoveToKnow has created several templates that can be used by readers for their formal invitation needs.

Volunteer Awards Invite

Mr. Ronald Smith, Community Volunteer Chairperson,
on behalf of the entire Community Volunteer Committee,
cordially invites you to attend the
2008 Volunteer Awards Ceremony,
on the evening of Saturday, the fifteenth of August
at eight o'clock at
54321 Road View Drive, SomeTown

Holiday Cocktail Party

Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Johnson
request the pleasure of your company
for Christmas cocktails
at their home, 123 Gravel Road
from seven until ten o'clock
on Sunday evening, the
twentieth of December

Baptism Celebration

Mr. and Dr. Robert Jones
request the honor of the presence of
Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Doe
at First Community Church, 1510 Bell Street, Anytown
on the seventeenth of June at nine o'clock in the morning
for the baptism of their son Kent Clark Jones

Writing letters seems to be a thing of the past as the twenty-first century pushes forward. Rise to the occasion by composing an invitation letter to your next formal event. Reply to any formal invitations received by sending a handwritten acceptance or regret letter.

Writing Formal Invitation Letter