Event Invitations – Lessons Learned

Before my days of social networking, web writing, editing, and all things marketing in University Relations, I lived in the world of special events. As event professionals often do, I learned many a valuable lesson by way of trial and error. Let’s pretend that you’ve asked me to share these pearls of wisdom. After all, why learn the hard way when you can benefit from my mistakes? Specifically, the writer in me would love to share some tips for wording event invitations. And so I will.

1. Be sure that the date listed on an invitation matches the day of the week listed. Inviting guests to an event to be held on Wednesday, August 26 will confuse them if the 26th falls on a Thursday. Trust me. I speak from experience.

2. Check that all necessary attendees are available before scheduling your event. If it’s important that the Chancellor attends, for example, contact her office early in the planning process.

3. Be clear about what guests should expect. Will there be a long program? A short program? A full meal? Only hors d’ouevres? Cash bar? If there is any sort of dress code, need for cash, or a reason your guests should eat before they come to your event, make sure they know.

4. Provide information that will make it easy to find your event–either a map, directions, or an address your guests can search online.

5. Make it easy for guests to RSVP for your event. The easier the process, the more likely you are to hear from them. (Additional note: If you’ll need to provide your caterer with a count of specific meals, make sure to get that information from your guests when they RSVP. It is always helpful to know in advance how many vegetarian/vegan meals you will need.)

6. When your invitation is pulled together, take the information and add it all to the campus event calendar–with a good description!

7. First-time events that are held with the intention of becoming annual should be called “Inaugural.” An event is not officially annual until it has happened the second time a year later, at which point it can be called the “Second Annual.” There is no such thing as a First Annual Event.

8. That fancy word for appetizers should be spelled this way: hors d’oeuvres.

9. Proofread.

10. Proofread again.

This list is far from exhaustive. In fact, I encourage you all to add to it. Jot down your own lessons learned and keep them on hand. Share them by commenting here. Shout them from a rooftop! If enough of us share what we’ve learned, someone else will be saved from making an unnecessary mistake.

Alaina Wiens

New Media Communications Specialist