Proper Graduation Invitation Etiquette

Graduation invitation etiquette is often a young person's first exposure to traditional correspondence manners. There are certain rules that need to be followed when sending graduation invitations. Although they might seem too formal and stuffy for teenagers, the right invitation etiquette shows the student's friends and family that they care.

Etiquette starts with getting your invitations ready to send well in advance. You should give the guests at least six weeks of notice for a graduation ceremony. If you are holding a party at someone's home or other location, you can do as few as three weeks in advance. Prepare your invitations the week before so they are ready to be mailed out on time.

For graduation ceremonies, you will normally be supplied by formal invitations by the school. These invitations can be ordered in groups of 50. They will come with an inner invitation, an inner envelope and an outer envelope. They will also include name plates with the student's name that can be inserted into a special place in the invitation.

You should send graduation invitations to people that are important to you, even if you know that can't attend the festivities. Grandparents, family friends, extended family and out of state relatives should all receive an announcement. It's a way to help them celebrate without actually being there.

Formal announcements should be addressed with the person's full name and address on the front of the outer envelope. The inner envelope should have the recipient's formal name. For example, the outer envelope would say Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. The inner envelope would state Mr. and Mrs. Smith. For couples with children, list their first names in birth order on the inner envelope only.

Single people should be addressed Mr. John Smith or Ms. (Miss) Clara Jones on the outer envelope. The inner envelope should be written Mr. Smith or Miss Jones.

If you are sending invitations for a private party, you should include directions and a map to the party location. Be sure to note if a meal will be provided. An RSVP phone number is a must, but you can also include response cards with stamped envelopes if it's a formal party or there are a lot of guests. With private graduation parties, you can be less formal with your addressing. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith can simply become John and Mary Smith. Invitations to families can be written as The Smith Family. 

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