Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette,
I just took a job with a company that hosts a number of parties and charity events throughout the year. It seems one of my duties will be coordinating the invitations for these events. Is there a set guideline for when to send invitations to business events? Does it vary from event to event? Thanks!
– Nervous Nellie
No need to be nervous, Nellie! There are no concrete rules about invitation lead times, but general guidelines do vary according to the formality of the event, and how important it is that people attend. Here are some rules of thumb for you:
For recurring annual events, like a Christmas party, sending invitations a month in advance is fine. People already know to expect the event, so the invitation is just a matter of letting everyone know what this year’s exact date and time will be.
A formal dinner or big budget cocktail party, 4 to 6 weeks is appropriate. People will need enough notice to arrange their schedules, but not so much notice that the even risks slipping their mind.
For major events where you’ll be needing a large group of people, and possible media coverage (like a major charity ball, for instance), 6 to 12 weeks’ notice is more appropriate. Because the event requires so much preparation, the advance notice ensures everyone has time to make necessary arrangements.
If you have other events that don’t fit those general groups, you may wish to look through company records to see how similar past events were handled (and find out if the company feels they were handled well!).
When it doubt, it’s never a bad idea to ask!