Miss Debrett on... Invitation Style
The display of invitation cards on the
mantelpiece has long been seen as the
signifier of social success. There is something
reassuringly classy about copperplate
engraving, thick white card and arcane
phrases: 'At Home', 'Decorations', 'Black
Tie', 'Cocktails'… But don't overdo
it. A battery of grandiose
invitations smacks of
snobbery - especially when,
on close inspection, many
of them have outlived their
Smart invitations radiate a sense of
certainty. As a guest, you feel reassured that the evening will
proceed along pre-
ordained, well-oiled, long- established, lines. Dress codes will be adhered to, cocktails will be served at a given hour, dancing (suitably organised) will take place, and food will be provided.
Everyone loves a smart invite, but be very
careful about letting your aspirations run away with you. If you're
organising a party at home where guests will be bringing their own
bottles, basic food is served straight from the oven, and dancing -
if any - is to your own home-compiled CD, then it would be
unforgivably pretentious, and actually very misleading, to
issue a formal invitation. Disgruntled, over-dressed guests would
certainly be justified in feeling that the evening was not all it
was cracked up
The function of an invitation is not to impose your social pretensions on your guest, but to send out clear signals about the nature of the event. The design, wording, typography and choice of card all carry a freight of hidden meanings. Your guests will draw conclusions about the formality of the occasion, the clothes they are expected to wear, the availability of food, the likely duration of the party.
If you manage to convey this information clearly, they will head off to the party in a mood of confident expectation; if you don't, they will already be in a bad mood before they arrive, unsure if they are over-dressed, wondering if they should have eaten beforehand, booked a taxi etc.
So put some thought into your invitations and don't succumb to the temptation to over-hype your party. Ultimately, your guests will be grateful for your clarity and much more disposed to enjoy themselves.
Miss Debrett's Top Tips
- Don't let your social aspirations run away with you; smart invites can be very misleading if you're planning a more modest event.
- Ensure that your invitations send out a clear message to your guests about the nature of the party - the design, wording and typography are all deeply significant.
- Make sure your guests have all the information they need to truly enjoy themselves; directions, dress codes, food arrangements, taxi numbers, end times...