The etiquette of business invitations

Whether you’re hosting an employee appreciation brunch or a corporate trade show, business-related events often necessitate a written invitation. While verbal, phone or email invitations are becoming more common, I’ve found written invitations encourage more guests to RSVP formally and often result in wider attendance. However, business invitations do require following some etiquette rules. Take a look at this guide to the etiquette of sending business invitations:

Choose invitations early
Invitations should be ordered at least two or three months before the event, but far earlier for events that are more formal or where out-of-town guests will be invited. While the style of the invitations is the host’s choice, many companies like to have them embossed with the corporate letterhead or logo. If you’re also purchasing thank you cards (which you should consider, especially for fundraising events), order them at the same time.

Include all important information
Make sure the messages include any and all pertinent information the guests may need to know. Here’s what your business invitations should include:

  • Hosts: Introduce the company or person holding the event. For events with multiple hosts, list each name on a separate line in order of financial involvement in the function or alphabetically. Remember that all business invitations should be written in the third person. Listing the hosts allows you to say, “[Company name] cordially invites you” rather than “We cordially invite you.”
  • Date and time: For more formal events, all numbers in the date and time should be written out (in the style of “Monday, the twenty-fifth of August at eleven o’clock”). Less formal events call for a more casual version of the date and time, though the month and day should never be abbreviated (in the style of “Monday, August 25 at 11:00 a.m.”).
  • Type of function: Indicate what type of event guests will be attending. Is it a luncheon, a fundraising dinner or a corporate recruiting event?
  • Address: Don’t abbreviate any part of the address, and make sure the city, state and zip code are included. If the street number is one, it should be written out: e.g., One Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Ask for the RSVP: Ask for an RSVP and indicate the exact date you need guests to respond. Indicate whether guests can bring a plus one, especially on company holiday party invitations and those for other informal events. RSVP address information should be in the lower-right corner of the invites.
  • Special instructions: Specific instructions for dress code, valet, parking, coat check and anything else should be included last.

Address envelopes correctly
Addressing the envelopes for any formal invitations should be done using the proper etiquette, business invitations included. Remember to use formal protocol for honorifics and titles, and indicate all of the invitees. Here’s how to handle the names and street addresses on the outer envelopes:

Name: Mr. and Ms. Smith
Avoid using Mrs. or Miss. unless you know her personal preference. Include children under 18 on the line below if they’re invited.

Street address: 1000 Main Boulevard
Spell out words like street, boulevard and avenue.