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What does a real White House state-dinner invitation look like?

Washington Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti's invitation to the Nov. 24 state dinner.Enlarge Image

Wondering if your invitation is actually an actual invitation to an actual state dinner? If only Carlos Allen had asked us! Guests at White House state dinners are mailed an elegant engraved invitation that doesn't look a thing like Allen's "invite" displayed during Monday's interview with Robin Roberts.

"The image that appeared on 'Good Morning America' is the inside front page of the entertainment program," said White House historian Barry Landau, author of "The President's Table: 200 Years of Dining & Diplomacy." "It was put at every place setting and does not represent, by any stretch of the imagination, an invitation to a state dinner at the White House."

One of the 320 invited guests to the Nov. 24 dinner, Washington Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti, lent us his state-dinner souvenirs. Read on for more photos.

  • The engraved invitation, seen above, has the presidential seal in gold on the top, followed by the words "The President and Mrs. Obama request the pleasure of the company of..." and each guest's name, added to the invitation by the White House calligrapher. The thick ivory card also bears the date and time of the dinner, and the words "Black Tie" and "East Entrance." A separate card instructed guests to RSVP with the White House social secretary's office.

  • Upon arriving at the White House, guests received a small envelope with their name on the front. Inside was a card with their table assignment, and another small card with their name that was handed to a White House official just before guests went through the receiving line:

    Table assignment cards were handed out in personalized envelopes.Enlarge Image

  • At each table, every guest had a personalized name card, also written in calligraphy, and a menu card:

    At the table, each guest's assigned seat was marked with a hand-lettered place card. At right, the dinner menu.Enlarge Image

    On the table, there was also a program with a gold tassel that listed the entertainers for the evening. The first page of the entertainment program, which begins "The President and Mrs. Obama welcome you to the White House..." looks exactly like Allen's purported invitation -- see below -- without the image of the White House and with the seal from the cover.

    The Nov. 24 dinner's official program, which was not personalized, was found at each dinner guest's place setting.Enlarge Image

    Photos of a document that Allen claims was sent to his home, inviting him to the state dinner:


  • By The Reliable Source  |  January 12, 2010; 4:13 PM ET
    Categories:  44: Obama's Washington , Parties , White House crashers  
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