Etiquette for Graduation Announcements


Graduation Party or Open House?

If you are planning to hold an Open House, normally everyone with whom you are associated would be invited. This celebration is typically held in the afternoon.  Refreshments and light food may be served. Guests may come and go at any time during the hours of the Open House. Those who receive an open house invitation are not normally asked to "R.S.V.P." and it is generally assumed that they may bring friends along with them. Open House cards can be inserted in your announcement or mailed separately.


On the other hand...

Graduation Parties (or dinners) are usually "invitation only" events. Technically, party invitations should be mailed in a separate envelope -- not with your graduation announcements. Graduation parties can be held at any time of the day or evening.  Refreshments and/or a meal may be served.

  • Enclose directions or a map if necessary to help guests find the location

  • Make it clear whether or not a meal is planned, especially if the party is in the evening

  • Unlike an Open House, it is fine to request that the guest respond to your "R.S.V.P."
  • Warning: don't put too much stock in the R.S.V.P. For some reason, even the politest people these days seem to ignore that request. If your party requires a head count (for example, a catered meal), at some point you may need to take stock of those that you haven't heard from, and make phone calls. It isn't really "proper" to "confront" someone and bluntly ask if they plan to come, so you might happen to have another reason for the call!









Mailing Your Graduation Announcements

If the announcement is being sent as an invitation to the ceremony and/or a graduation party, the recipient should have them at least 14 days before the event. Three weeks ahead of the ceremony is ideal, and four weeks is fine, especially if people from out of town are being invited who need to plan ahead. Unlike a wedding, it is not recommended that you mail graduation announcements more than 4 weeks in advance. If the card is just being used to announce the accomplishment of graduation, it is proper to send it up to two or three weeks after the ceremony. 

Name Cards...
Place your card in the card slots, if your announcement includes this feature. If not, place the name card face-up in the fold of the announcement. However, if the announcement verse is printed on the front of the card, then the name card should be placed on top of the announcement. 

Whether or not you include a name card, the announcement should be placed in the smaller envelope with folded edge inserted first. The front of the announcement faces the flap so that when the inner envelope is opened, the front of the card is seen. You may fasten the flap using a seal. If you do not use a seal, leave it un-tucked. This envelope is placed in the mailing envelope with the flap facing the mailing address side so that the front of the inner envelope is seen when the outer envelope is opened. Seals are often used on the outer envelope instead of the inner... this is a matter of preference.

The outer envelope, with the gummed flap, is the mailing envelope. It should be hand-addressed using black ink. It should be formal. Do not use abbreviations except for titles and state. Example:

Mr. and Mrs. William Jones
1554 South Wallace Street
Saint Paul, MN  12345

The inner envelope does not have a gummed flap. It holds the announcement, name card, graduation picture, confetti, etc. It should be addressed informally. Examples: 

Bob and Susan 
Uncle Pete

Single Envelopes
If you have purchased a photo announcement OR a Budget announcement with a single lined envelope, address the single envelope as though it were an outer envelope. The full names of the recipients should be written in black ink, abbreviating only the titles and the state.

Return Address...
Use either a printed return address (printed on back flap of envelope), a return-address label (on the back OR front of the envelope) or a hand written return address in black ink (upper left corner of the envelope). Complete your presentation with an envelope seal!