Australians love to celebrate, and there is certainly no shortage of occasions to enjoy throughout the year.

When you decide to celebrate an occasion, nothing makes the event (or your guests) feel as special as receiving a printed invitation. Why? Because a printed invitation instantly elevates your event to something special and meaningful. It shows that you have taken the time to invite guests in a well-thought-out and personalised way. When done well, an invitation creates excitement, even curiosity about the event to come. And even more importantly, a printed invitation serves as a physical reminder to guests of the up-coming occasion.

So in an era of junk mail and social media requests, it seems like the perfect time to delve into some invitation tips and etiquette.

Set the scene

Most celebrations have some sort of theme, even if it’s as simple as a colour-scheme or deciding whether the event is casual or formal. Following your theme through all the way from decorations to the stamp on the envelope really sets the scene. After all, the stamp and envelope are really the first element of event theming your guests will see!

Choose appropriate fonts and colours for your invitation too. A modern, formal invitation may use sans serif fonts and neutral colour palettes, whereas something more casual may be a little bolder.

A stamp for every occasion

The Love to Celebrate stamp issue, released on 25 January 2016, is the latest in the Special Occasions stamp series. It presents ten stamp designs to cater for a range of specific occasions as well as general events.

The $1 Australia, $1 gum sprig and $1 stylised wattle are perfect for any general occasion, from an Australia Day barbecue through to a corporate event.

The $1 birthday cake and $1 balloons stamps are clearly aimed at birthdays, and the $1 handprints design is perfect for baby showers, christening, children’s birthday parties and more.

The $1 red rose heart is ideal for Valentine’s Day or ‘just because’, and the $1 white roses and $1 champagne glasses are, of course, aimed at engagements, weddings and milestone birthdays. The $2 wedding rings stamp is for over-sized letters, making it perfect for larger wedding invitations.

Do it well, regardless of budget

While you may choose to use professional printing for a more formal occasion (such as letterpress or screen printing), for a laid-back event you can print your own with fantastic results (or even combine pre-printed invitations with your own flourishes). Book cloth, cork, ribbons, paper cuts and more are being used to embellish invitations. If you are going DYI, just make sure you use the right sort of glue, such as spray glue or PVA, so your masterpiece arrives in one piece.

If you are printing your own, it is important to choose the right paper or card stock and good quality printer inks (to ensure the best results and avoid smudging).

Clarity is key

At the end of the day, the purpose of an invitation is to detail the ‘who, where, when, what and why’ of the occasion. There’s no need to be too fussy or complicated with your invitation design, especially if it’s at the risk of clarity. Key details are: the type of occasion/hosts; who is invited; the date and location; RSVP details; dress code (if relevant); and any extra details (such as anything your guests are asked to bring with them).

For more formal affairs, it’s usual to first send out a save-the-date card. These can be a great way of setting the tone and theme for the event. Again, while you may want to use clever designs, be clear about the main information – especially the date! And don’t forget to note that full invitations will follow soon.

And to make it easier for guests to reply to your invitation on time, prepaid postcards are a convenient option for an RSVP card.

Personalise it

Personalising your invitations ensure that the occasion is all about you (or the guest of honour). The stamps in the Love to Celebrate issue can be used with the Australia Post Personalised Stamps™ service.

Simply upload your photo, and you will receive sheets of stamps with your photo in the stamp tab (which can then be applied to your envelope along with the stamp itself). This may be a picture of the happily engaged couple, for a wedding invitation, or a picture of your bundle of joy, for a christening or birthday party.

For corporate or community events, the Australia, gum and wattle stamp designs in the Australia Post souvenir stamp sheets can also be used, which make a nice ‘thank you’ or memento for guests.

Invitation etiquette for formal occasions:

  • Use full words on everything. For example Street, instead of St.
  • Understand naming conventions. For example, include the full names of your guests; list titles come before Mr or Mrs; and note that these days it’s fine to include both full names for a married couple (rather than just that of the husband)
  • Give enough notice, especially if you are expecting your guests to travel from interstate of overseas for the event. Six to eight weeks is the norm – any earlier and you run the risk of people failing to reply straight away. If you are using ‘save the date’ cards, these can go out a as much as four months in advance
  • Post event, make sure you send thank you notes promptly, ie. within two weeks

This article was produced at the time of publication and will not be updated.

Philatelic Team