Public Affairs | Illinois

Public Affairs | Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Block I logo home page



image of the beckman institute



Guidelines for invitations

Send out invitations at least six weeks before your event if possible. The invitation style should provide guests an idea of the nature of the event, whether casual, formal, academic, athletic, etc. and should answer the questions who, what, why, when, and where. If you use the campus logo, it should appear on the invitation appropriately. Creative Services can create custom materials tailored to your event and your audience, including the writing, design, and printing of invitations.


Public Affairs offers invitation templates that can be customized for your event.


When writing your invitation, remember to include:

Invitation mailing list

Create a spreadsheet using Excel or similar software. Manage your list and use it as a database with categories such as first name, last name, title, and address. This database will be useful in creating nametags, table assignments, etc. If your event is annual, you’ll be able to add and remove names as necessary throughout the year, so it’s always ready to use.

Ask the guest of honor (if you have one) for input on the guest list and compare the size of your guest list with the size of your venue. Consider issuing “courtesy invitations” to people who aren't likely to attend, but would feel honored to be invited. Remember to use campus mail whenever possible to save money.

RSVP methods

Printed card response

The response card is enclosed in the invitation with an envelope and postage is marked. Designate your response deadline at least one week before the event.

Phone response

If you have a large guest list, make sure you can handle the increased volume of phone calls; someone must be available during business hours to receive the calls. A voice mailbox may be established that includes a message informing callers that they have reached the appropriate place to leave an acceptance or regret. Ask respondents to spell their name and their guest’s name.

E-mail response

Make sure the e-mail address you provide has room in its inbox for all of the responses.

No response

You can simply estimate the number of attendees. This would be appropriate if you are not serving food, and you are not worried about the size of the crowd.

Acceptances only

For larger mailings, you may want to hear only from those who are planning to attend in order to reduce the number of phone calls, e-mails, or reply mails. Ask whether guests need a vegetarian meal, but don't ask for general food preferences, or you’ll be inundated with special requests.

Confirmation cards

Confirmation cards are sent out confirming the acceptance after it is received. They can help ensure attendance and minimize confusion. Consider using them if:

Next step: Promoting Your Event