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Graduation Etiquette 101
Graduation is one of the most momentous occasions in a young person's life. It's not only an end but a beginning, and it's a time to celebrate the hard work and hours a graduate put into preparing themselves for their future.
As you anticipate celebrating your graduate, it's helpful to have a handle on all aspects of graduation etiquette so you can thoroughly enjoy the big day. These etiquette tips are for parents or other loved ones who will be in charge of coordinating the celebration.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
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Save the Dates
Mail a "save the date" email or note about two to three months in advance of the graduation. May and June are very busy months with holidays and travel, so you'll want to ensure your loved ones have the official date on their radars as weekends begin filling up.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
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Invitation Allocation to Ceremony
Often times a graduate will only receive about five tickets to the actual graduation ceremony. If they have a large extended family, it might become difficult to choose who gets a seat in the audience.
If you can't scrounge up some spare tickets from other members of the graduating class, ask the graduate which family members they would like to invite. For family members who don't make the cut, have a face-to-face conversation with them to explain the seat limitations.
If the graduate does not have a strong opinion about who is in attendance, you can opt to use a lottery for the family members who are interested in attending. This is a fair and fun way to involve your loved ones and give everyone an equal chance to participate in the festivities.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
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Sometimes there is confusion about the difference between announcements and invitations. A graduation announcement is mailed to simply state that the student is graduating. This document often has the graduation date but is not an actual invite to the ceremony. Commencement invitations are sent separately and are only extended to those you'd like to attend the ceremony. Sometimes announcements are sent after the graduation weekend to help avoid confusion as to whether it's an invitation to the commencement.
The number of people you send an announcement to is entirely up to you. Some people choose to limit their announcement mailings to only immediate family, while others tend to send to extended family and friends. While it's not mandatory, announcements can also include invites to a graduation party that often takes place post-commencement.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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An invitation should include all the important details in regards to the upcoming commencement ceremony. Along with essentials like time, date, and location, it's considerate to provide specific instructions on navigating the location of the event. It's also appropriate to add the graduate's honors, information about the degree, and potential future plans.
You can opt to include a photo of the graduate with the invites so all your loved ones (or only immediate family) can have a copy. Invitations should be sent out three to four weeks before the actual date. If you're inviting guests from out of town, it's considerate to include hotel option information on the invite.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
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It's helpful to alert guests of the formality of the graduation ceremony. Depending on the school's traditions, commencements can range from formal to casual. Give invited guests some background information on the type of ceremony beforehand so they can feel more comfortable in their seats and know how to be respectful and what to expect. You can also include information on the recommended dress for the occasion.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
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Every invite to both the actual graduation ceremony and post-graduation party should have a reply card included to RSVP to each respective event or an email or phone number where they can send their confirmation. If using a reply card, include postage so it's convenient for your guests to place it back in the mail. You'll need to confirm the number of guests that will attend your graduate's post-ceremony party to know how much party food, alcohol, and drinks to buy for entertaining.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
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Thank You Notes
It's likely that your graduate will receive money and gifts from friends and family. Handwritten thank you notes are a crucial reflection of a thoughtful and considerate graduate. These notes should go out ideally within a week or no later than a month after the party. Remind the graduate to acknowledge the specific gift, and include personal reflections whenever possible to show their gratitude.