Eight Details to Include When Wording Your Wedding Invitation
A request to attend your celebration can be phrased and arranged in countless ways to reflect the style of the occasion and the changing times. Landing on the proper wedding invitation wording is pivotal for so many reasons. For one, what you write on your invitations will set the tone for your big day. And for another, the proper wording relays important information to guests.
"The trend is that you do whatever makes good etiquette sense and makes you feel good," says Jerome Brownstein, engraving consultant at Ross-Cook Engraving in New York City. Nevertheless, there are certain customary elements you should include. Always include a line dedicated to who is hosting the celebration, which is traditionally the bride's parents. If that's not the case for you, change things up. Whether you're paying for the wedding yourselves or are having a same-sex wedding and therefore have two families that are hosting, you should feel free to select wording that works for your unique situation. Each part of your wedding invitation will depict your specific nuptials, so it's important to keep in mind that there's always wiggle room.
If you're having a casual, laid-back beach wedding, or a religious one steeped in tradition, there are ways to give guests the information they need prior to attending the event. Whatever your wedding style, we're laying out exactly how to word your invitations.
As for the information regarding the reception, including deciding whether or not to feature a line on your general invitation or adding a separate reception card to your suite, these are necessary decisions that you'll need to consider early on, especially because they'll impact the ultimate cost of your invites. To help you make sense of it all, we've compiled your wedding invitation checklist so you can make sure all the needed information is communicated to all your guests.
Start with the names of those issuing the invitation, which would traditionally be the bride's parents. Evolving family structures and financial dynamics often make this the trickiest part of the process, so follow the format that best fits your situation.
Two phrases are the most traditional; one indicates the ceremony will be in a house of worship, the other that it will not. But informal wording is becoming very common. Just be sure that whatever phrasing you choose indicates that guests are being invited to a wedding ceremony or the reception only.
At a Place of Worship: "Request the honor of your presence..." is the proper way to word the request line. Meanwhile at an informal ceremony, write: "Would be delighted by your presence at the marriage of their children..." Meanwhile, at an informal reception, write, "Invite you to join them at the wedding reception of..." to request the guest's presence.
Bride and Groom Lines
Because the bridal couple are the stars of the invitation, their names are set off, on separate lines. The preposition linking them goes on its own line: traditional American formatting uses the word "to;" some Jewish formats use the word "and."
For a traditional wedding, if the bride's last name is the same as her parents' above, it is typically not repeated. No courtesy title (such as Miss or Ms.) is used. For a contemporary wedding, if the couple or both sets of parents are to host, treat the names equally.
Date and Time
Don't worry about using a.m. or p.m., or a phrase such as "in the evening," unless the wedding will be held at 8, 9, or 10 o'clock. The year is traditionally omitted as well, but it is sometimes included for the invitation’s keepsake value.
For a traditional wedding, spell out numbers and capitalize proper nouns only; you can begin the line with the preposition "on" if you'd like. Meanwhile, for a contemporary wedding, though using numerals is a more modern practice, it is not necessarily more casual.
It's traditional not to include street addresses of houses of worship or well-known locations, but this is less common lately. Commas are not used at the ends of lines, and the state is always spelled out.
For traditional and religious weddings, write, for example: Saint Paul's Lutheran Church, Walkersville, Maryland. For a contemporary affair, if you are using a street address, numerals are acceptable but no ZIP code is needed; this is not for mailing.
Reception Line or Card
If the ceremony and reception are in the same space, they can be on a single invitation. If the reception is held elsewhere, a separate card might be helpful. It is no longer considered acceptable to invite some people only to the ceremony.
R.S.V.P. Line or Reply Card
Brides today generally include paper, envelope, and stamp to encourage guests to respond to their invitation in a timely manner, even though traditional etiquette doesn't actually call for them. It's not rude to omit these, but it might be risky.
For a R.S.V.P. line on the invitation. it goes in the lower left corner; you can also include mailing address, phone number, email address, or website. If you're using a separate card, a traditional fill-in-the-blank version provides the first letter of Mr. or Mrs.; or try a single line, such as "Please let us know whether you will join us," with space for writing.
Special Details on the Wedding Invitation
If your event won't include a full meal, it's courteous to inform your guests. Use phrasing such as, "and afterward for cocktails," instead of the classic "at the reception."
If you want to stress the importance of the style of dress—black tie, for instance, or casual attire—place that information in the lower right corner, or on the reception card. The only thing that should not be included anywhere on your invitation—not even as an insert—is your registry information.