Who to Invite to a College Graduation Ceremony

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

Well done! If you’re a fresh graduate you finished an entire chapter in your life and you’re ready to start a new one. That deserves a proper celebration! We know you’re thinking a lot about it. Who wouldn’t? You don’t graduate every day, and you want it to be perfect. Still, if you’re here, that means you have some trouble figuring out what would be the best approach to the entire celebration thing. That’s completely normal. Just like any other social event, this one also has an established etiquette one should follow. Don’t worry, we got you!

We know that sometimes it can be hard to follow all social rules. It often happens that people accidentally make a faux pas and offend others without even knowing it. How you’re supposed to know all social rules for every given situation in your life? There are so many of them! Luckily for you, we are always here, ready to give you a hand in awkward and difficult social situations. This time, we’re covering everything about the graduation ceremony, from answering the question about who to invite to a college graduation ceremony to giving you some useful tips for throwing a perfect afterparty. Stick around and you’ll find answers to all your questions about the topic!

Before you get to the part where we consider the most important things about the graduation ceremony, take a quick look at this list of tips:

  • Your graduation is a big day, and you should treat it that way! Dress formally, send formal invitations and don’t forget to thank people from coming.
  • Find out everything you can about graduation as soon as possible. You want to be informed about how many guests you can invite and how everything is going to look like before you start with preparations.
  • It’s crucial to send invitations on time. You don’t want to insult people or make them rush to the event by letting them know about it on the same day.
  • Don’t get sad or mad if someone doesn’t make it. Most people know how important graduation is, so they’ll certainly give everything in their power to be there for you.

Learning About the Ceremony

First thing first, you want to know everything there is about the graduation ceremony. Once the date and venue of the ceremony are set, you should find out how many guests you can invite. Some schools allow for an unlimited number of invitations to be sent, while others don’t. If you face the second situation, you’ll have to narrow down the list, unfortunately. Don’t worry, even if that’s the case, most people will understand your position. If there’s limited seating, your family is first in the line to get the spots, and people know that. Still, if someone gets offended, try to explain politely why you weren’t able to invite them. Don’t forget to mention that you would love to have them around for the day. Another thing you can do is to invite those people at the party (if there’s one) afterward. We’ll get to the specifics about the graduation party later on in the article.

Sending the Graduation Announcement

Be aware, graduation announcements are not the same as invitations to the ceremony! Graduation ceremony invitations let you invite people to the event held by your school. Announcements are there to let everyone know you graduated. A lot of parents want to send them to let friends and distant family members know that their child graduated and started a new phase of life.

The good thing is, most schools make arrangements with printing companies to offer announcement packages at lower costs. Of course, you can also choose to do it on your own if you prefer. Just remember, you’re not obliged to invite those people you sent announcements to at the graduation ceremony. To avoid misunderstandings, we recommend sending announcements after graduation. Also, make sure to clearly state on the card whether it’s an announcement or an invitation to the graduation ceremony.

Here are some basic rules you should follow when filling these in:

  • Write concise and short sentences.
  • Use black or blue ink.
  • Address the envelopes with formal Ms. or Mr.
  • Send the envelopes on time (consider doing it after the graduation ceremony).

Sending Invitations

Here comes the big question: who to invite to the graduation ceremony? Is there a graduation party invitation etiquette? Things are more flexible when it comes to the party. The graduation ceremony is a more formal type of event. Although some people might get offended for not being invited to both, you have more freedom to do what you want for a party. When it comes to the graduation ceremony, there are quite some social rules to consider.

Parents and Siblings

Inviting parents for graduation ceremony might seem like a silly thing to do. Those people were probably with you all the way through the journey, supporting and helping you as much as they could. Therefore, they probably found out about the date of the ceremony on the same day you did. Still, send them official invitations and keep things a secret! It should be a surprise.

You want your parents and siblings to have something to show off among friends and family. You also want to show them that you appreciate everything they did for you. Sending official invitations is a cute way to do it, especially because they probably won’t expect it at all!

Extended Family

The extended family counts grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. All these people would love to be invited to your graduation ceremony. Even if they are far away, don’t forget to send invitations. They might even make a special trip to be there for you. Even if they don’t, they’ll most certainly love to get invitations and know that you think about them in those special moments in your life. Also, don’t forget to invite those important people to whom you’re not blood related but you consider family.

Childhood Friends

Decide whether you want some of your childhood friends to attend the ceremony or you only want to send announcements. It will mostly depend on the seating limitations. You probably won’t be able to invite everyone you want if there’s a limited number of seats.

Teachers, Mentors, and Other Important People in Your Life

When considering who to invite to a graduation ceremony, don’t forget about the people who made you who you are today. We all have that one teacher or mentor that inspired us to pursue our dreams and give our best in life! Even if you can’t invite that important person to the ceremony, you should still send an announcement. There are only a few people that make a difference in our lives, and you should treat them in the right way and nurture the connection you have.

An After Party

Things are easier for the party. You don’t have to send formal invitations. Text or emails will do. Just don’t forget to send them some time ahead, so people can prepare and get the right gifts (yes, they’ll want to get you a little something for the graduation party!). As we mentioned earlier, graduation parties are more flexible when it comes to social rules. Still, you should consider inviting those who you couldn’t invite due to seating limitations.

Gifts Considerations

Most people will bring you a little something for graduation. Although you shouldn’t ask for anything in particular for this occasion, you can still give a subtle hint to your parents and other family members. Just be modest in your gift requests. Your parents will probably want to give you something big and special if their budget allows them to do so, though.

If you need some suggestions on what you could ask for, take a look at this article Cool Gifts Grad Students. It might give you some ideas!

The Dress Code

As we mentioned earlier, your graduation is very important! It’s the day when you finish a phase in your life and enter a new one. Therefore, you should welcome it with open hands and completely prepared. Following a dress code might help you with that! Besides, most guests will dress formally for the occasion, and you, as a graduate, should be first to set up the rule.

Hosting a Party

The college graduation party etiquette is not as strict as the one for a graduation ceremony. You’ll have more freedom to arrange it the way you want. Still, we don’t recommend throwing a party just for your classmates and other young friends. You want to include family members as well as some other important people in your life. Therefore, consider throwing a more formal party or opt for a classy dinner. You’ll still have a chance to arrange it the way you want, it’s just going to be more suitable for people of different ages.

If you’re not sure how to throw a house party, we are here to help you with that too! You can follow our article on What to Do at a House Party. In it, we covered everything you need to know about throwing the best house party the world has ever seen! So, don’t miss checking it out.

If you’re not sure who to invite to the graduation party, go back above to our section with recommendations for the graduation ceremony invitations. That will give you some ideas and remind you of some people you shouldn’t forget to invite!

Thank You Notes

Lastly, don’t forget to send thank you notes. You didn’t know that should be done? What a terrible faux pas you would make without sending those! You want to tell people you’re glad they came to your graduation ceremony or your afterparty. If they have shown up, that means they wanted to be there for you and they care about you. It’s important to show gratitude and how much you care about them too.

Extra Tips for the Guests

We just couldn’t miss writing a short section dedicated to guests. It will tell all those who are going to attend a graduation ceremony how to act and what to do in a quick set of tips.

  • Don’t confuse a graduation announcement with an actual invitation to the ceremony. Although it should be stated on the envelope, loud and clear, sometimes it isn’t. Make sure to check the headline and the date.
  • Let the day be all about the graduate. Don’t try to suggest who he/she should or shouldn’t invite to the ceremony or an afterparty.
  • You’ll want to buy a little something for a graduate. If you only received an announcement, you don’t have to buy a gift, but you should consider sending a card anyway. You should congratulate the graduate for his/her success!
  • Lastly, let your excitement show at the ceremony, but don’t be too loud! Also, make sure to stop with claps and whoops in time, so the name of the next graduate can be heard by his/her family.


There you have it! We covered everything a graduate should know about graduation etiquette. Hopefully, you’re all set to celebrate the event in a proper way, and that you know now who to invite to a graduation ceremony. Although there are some social rules you have to follow, don’t forget to make an event all about you! Make your own arrangements and celebrate graduation the way you want it. It’s your day, after all, and you should make it memorable!





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