BY JOSÉ LUCENA*
One of the most relevant and sensitive steps of a ceremony is the Invitation Management. Deciding whom to invite, when to start sending the invitations, how to do it, by mail or by e-mail are some of the actions that contribute to the Invitation Management of any kind of ceremony.
On the next lines I would like to share with our readers my purpose, as a protocol practitioner, how to reach a good Invitation Management.
The first action, and I strongly believe, the most important, is to define a Core List of guests. The most suitable tool to do this is Excel, or other spreadsheet. Create a table with at least the following columns:
Title; Surname; First name; Post; Address; e-mail; phone; Observations
Of course, these are the essential columns for your Core List, but sometimes we need to add more. As an example, if you are going to invite militaries, probably you need to add one column for rank and another for seniority.
After you fill your list with the guests you consider adequate and essential to attend the ceremony you must have a validation from your boss or chain of command. Keep this core list updated. This is a very important task to be made, and keep in mind that sending an invitation for a High Dignity with his or her name wrong is bad image.
Next step is to decide which form of invitation will be addressed. Hard or digital. Both options are fine. Sometimes, depending on the type and importance of the ceremony and guests, a letter might be the solution. At the end it is always a decision. Then you must decide when to send the invitations, one month prior to the ceremony, less, more? A good time frame is one month, because it gives plenty of time for the guests to manage their agenda.
You will print a dead line date with a contact information and this is mandatory for confirmation. Pay attention to the contact information you make available. Ensure they are valid ones and people responsible for receiving the confirmation know what to do with the confirmation data. If you do not tackle this in the proper way you might have a huge surprise on the ceremony day. Guest that confirmed is not showing up, and guest that did not confirm is showing up. So, my recommendation is to have a full confirmed list, therefore, you must task someone to contact guests who did not follow your guidance regarding the confirmation dead line date.
After you have a full confirmation from your guests you are in conditions to start the next step of a ceremony, regarding guests, which is the seating plan.
*About the author
José Lucena is a Portuguese Navy Officer, with the rank of Commander. His present post is Protocol Adviser to the Chief of General Staff of Portuguese Armed Forces. Since 2010 his tasks have been related to protocol, diplomacy (Defence Attachés) and Military Ceremonies.