Replying to a formal invitation
May 23, 2007 2:38 AM   Subscribe

So, I've been invited to a party at my country's embassy later this week. The formal invitation asks me to RSVP, but I don't do this sort of thing very often, and I've got no idea what the right protocol for a response is. Anyone got any idea?
posted by ascullion to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your reply should be clearly hand written (ideally on headed paper, but that isn't essential), and in the third person. Like so,

Mr Ascullion thanks [inviter(s)] for their kind invitation on [day of week] [date and month] and has much pleasure in accepting.

Did the invitation include a guest, and is it just for drinks or also dinner? These will change the form slightly.
posted by atrazine at 3:01 AM on May 23, 2007

if the invitation is addressed to you only, it is expected that you are the only one who will be attending. if you are part of a family or an established couple, the invitation will be addressed to everyone by name. if the invitation is addressed to you "and guest," you may bring a guest. to bring a guest or anyone else not specifically addressed on the invitation would be out of form.

traditionally, a written invitation requires a written response. you respond in writing whether you are able to attend or not. if there are others besides you named on the invitation, you respond for everyone.
posted by violetk at 3:02 AM on May 23, 2007

Does the invitation have an email address, and/or the name of a member of embassy staff? If so, you only need to reply as politely as you would normally do.

If it looks like you must mail a letter, and there's no specific person to address, then write to "The Honorable Firstname Lastname, Ambassador of Country to Host Country" and use the salutation "Dear Mr/Mrs Ambassador".

In my experience this stuff is all much more relaxed than you might be led to believe.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:03 AM on May 23, 2007

[PS There's no harm in doing the old-style thing, as Atrazine suggests. Apart from anything else, it's fun. I'm just saying that in my experience, which is of British embassies and consulates, nobody expects it these days. Maybe they do for when royalty visits, or something; I've never been invited to one of those!]
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:07 AM on May 23, 2007

Best answer: I've been to several receptions at the invitation of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Your response will be one of many handled by a harried administrative assistant who probably has lots of more important stuff to do. This person will not care about the form, only about getting the message down as quickly as possible. Send a succinct e-mail if you can.
posted by grouse at 3:18 AM on May 23, 2007

Response by poster: thanks for the quick replies. to answer queries - i'm pretty sure it's just drinks. it's a reception, and no mention of dinner on the invitation. also, there's no email address.

i suspect the points made about this being less imporant than one might think are spot on - I just wanted to reply in the most efficient and appropriate way possible.
posted by ascullion at 3:26 AM on May 23, 2007

Best answer: Is there a phone number? In many cases we (Canadian High Commission) have dedicated RSVP lines for events that people can call and provide their response. It's usually just forwarded to a voicemail box that gets checked periodically.
posted by smcniven at 3:33 AM on May 23, 2007

Best answer: a formal RSVP follows the format of the formal invitation, which is to say, in the third person. an example...

The Australian Ambassador and Mrs Doe
request the pleasure of your company
at a reception in celebration of ANZAC Day
on Wednesday the twenty-fifth of April
at half past six o'clock in the evening
at the Australian Embassy.

Ascullion is happy to accept
the Ambassador and Mrs Doe's kind invitation
to the reception in celebration of ANZAC Day
on Wednesday the twenty-fifth of April.

the response should be on a correspondence card with roughly the same spacing as the invitation.

yes, it's formal. and such is formality :)

happy partying!
posted by housea at 3:59 AM on May 23, 2007

It also needs to be wrapped around a Ferrero Rocher and include the words "You spoil us, ambassador." :D
As a student in China I got invited to Christmas drinks at the UK embassy and they seemed happy with any kind of confirmation that wasn't overtly rude, but I like housea's answer.
posted by Abiezer at 4:09 AM on May 23, 2007

game warden to the events rhino: The Ambassador would be His Excellency rather than The Honourable.
posted by magwich at 4:18 AM on May 23, 2007

[an addendum to magwich]

American Ambassadors are Honorable rather than Excellency.
posted by housea at 4:46 AM on May 23, 2007

Best answer: IANA portocol expert, but I do work in a UK Embassy.

No-one will mind how you reply. What matters is that you do reply and they know whether you are coming or not, for numbers. The person collating the responses will likely be a member of the support staff and won't care if your use honorifics or not

Is there an email address or a phone number? A call/email in your grown up voice will be fine. A hand-written letter would be completely over the top.

posted by tonylord at 8:24 AM on May 23, 2007

But, if you want to enjoy the fun of Being Invited to the Embassy, get an etiquette book out of the library and read up!
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:43 AM on May 23, 2007

Response by poster: thanks for all the excellent advice. so, in the end i decided to do the informal thing.. called the telephone number on the card - and it turned out there was an answering machine for responses. So very easy in the end.
posted by ascullion at 2:20 AM on May 24, 2007

ascullion, yeah, mention of the fact of a phone number on the card might have been helpful in that we all would have just told you to call it then.
posted by violetk at 10:46 AM on May 24, 2007

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