DEAR MISS MANNERS: You have addressed the situation of invitations where money is solicited to pay for an event that people thought they were being invited to for free. I have the opposite problem.
Every year, my organization sponsors a fundraising dinner. I purchase a table and then invite people I know to attend -- not by purchasing tickets themselves, but as my guests, sitting at my sponsored table.
I have been sending out printed invitations saying, “Mr. and Mrs. (our name) request the pleasure of your company at ...” Although that wording should make it clear that they are being invited as guests, several invitees decline; I find out later that it was because they thought I wanted them to purchase tickets.
The names of the organization and the event leave no doubt but that it is a fundraiser. So how does one word the invitation to make it clear that the guest is invited as just that?
It seems rather crass and insulting to my potential guests to put something like “This is an invitation, not a solicitation to purchase a ticket” on a formal, or even informal, invitation. Should I say something like, “We request the pleasure of your company as our guests”?
GENTLE READER: The problem, Miss Manners suspects, is that charities use the same apparently hospitable wording. They request “the pleasure of your company,” and slip in a little card saying -- surprise! -- that they also expect the pleasure of your money.
Your friends are unfortunately assuming that you are up to the same little trick. So it would be better if you did not mimic the charity’s invitation. You could write “Please come as our guests” on a card with your formal names, or, less formally, say that in a brief letter.