Wedding Invitations for the Guest

Make sure you know your stance on bells before RSVPing. (Via)

Make sure you know your stance on bells before RSVPing. (Via)

Welcome to our first how-to etiquette post! In this feature, we will be giving you a guideline for a basic etiquette situation. As these are guidelines, always take into account your situation and circumstances when applying them. If you have a tricky situation, write us and we will answer!

Wedding invitations have their own crazy etiquette (which we will definitely be talking about later on) that can be intimidating and confusing for the first time guest. There’s really formal language and it looks so fancy! And there are so many inserts and what’s this little stamped envelope? Should you be judging people based on their fonts? Let’s break it down:

Save The Dates

Save the Dates are sometimes sent out WAY in advance to let important people know the wedding date. They might be a cute card or a little magnet to stick on your fridge, or it might just be an email. They do not require a response, they are simply a notification of the wedding date and that you can expect an invitation. However, they are an opportunity for you to start planning. If the wedding is far away, you will want to start making travel arrangements. And if you know for a 100% fact that you won’t be able to make it on that date, let the couple know.


RSVP stands for respondez-sil-vous-plait, which is French for “please, please tell me if you are coming by the deadline posted here so I can give the caterer a headcount in time.”

There may be a little card included in the invitation with its own stamped envelope (though sometimes you will have to stamp it yourself!). On this card there might be a M___________. You are suppose to write Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. YourFirstName YourLastName on this line. Sometimes I forget the title in my excitement and just write my name. Or there might be a box for you to write the number of people. Just make sure your name is on there somewhere so they know exactly who it is that is coming. Send it back ASAP and definitely before the deadline if given.

If there is no response card, either call or email as directed- the important thing is to make sure they know you are or are not coming. You MUST still RSVP even if you are not coming.

If you want to be really fancy, you can write your response on your own stationery as follows (try to mirror the formatting and language from the invitation):

Ms. Honoria Snodgrass

accepts with pleasure

Mr. and Mrs. Doodly’s

kind invitation for

Saturday, May 31


Generally, the only people invited to the wedding are those listed on the invitation. If Mr. and Mrs. Chatterton are the only names on the invitation, they are not welcome to bring their 5 charming children. “Mr. and Mrs. Chatterton and Family” is sometimes used to invite the whole family, though it is nicer to write out the names of all the kids. Sometimes though, single people will be invited with an “and guest” or “plus one”. In these circumstances you are welcome to bring a date. DO NOT BRING A DATE IF YOU ARE NOT INVITED TO BRING ONE. Whew! Also, you can’t just write plus one or Ms. Tiddlywinks and Mr. Fancypants (Mr. Fancypants being your uninvited date) on your RSVP if you haven’t been given a plus one in the first place. You also cannot substitute an uninvited guest for an invited one who can’t make it- wedding invitations are not write-in ballots.

Inserts and the Wedding Website

Often an invitation will come with a bunch of inserts of information. There might be directions and hotel info or registry info. There might even be a little card with the groom’s parent’s names (this is very old fashioned and unlikely- it is used when his parent’s names aren’t on the invitation so that their side of friends and family will be reminded of who the groom is).

Nowadays, more people are putting this information on their wedding website and they will either send the address along with the invitation or will announce it or email it to you some other way.

Do I have to keep the invitation?

No! Keep it handy until the wedding so you will have the information about the time and location, but after that feel free to discard or keep as you please.

7 thoughts on “Wedding Invitations for the Guest

  1. Sure, this doesn’t seem too timely at all… Also, I’m still confused by the whole groom’s family name thing. Why would you need to know either the bride’s or groom’s parents names? Why wouldn’t you know who the groom is? Why would the bride’s parents’ names be needed? Why are you inviting strangers!

    • Because traditionally a lot more strangers would be invited! Also, it’s only been recently that the bride and groom throw a wedding for themselves. More often the parents would throw (and pay for) the wedding ceremony and reception, so their names on the invitation indicate that they are the hosts.

  2. Man, the plus ones thing was a whole big bag of snakes at my wedding last year. We ultimately ended up saying, “If this person has a +1 at the time the invitations go out, then they get a +1. Otherwise, no +1 included.” And yet we still had people write in all kinds of stuff on the RSVPs, so we had to make calls and clarify. Oy.

    Thankfully no one was a jerkwad about it, but still. Had this page existed then, I’d have just linked it to everyone (which, surely, would have gone against etiquette, am I right?)

    • We will definitely be covering the +1 issue in more detail later on! Maybe someone would like to write to us about their own +1 problems at and we can talk about how to handle it.

      It is rude to tell someone they are being rude, but I don’t think a little passive linking of etiquette sites or a general announcement really counts. But it’s probably best to gently explain why it won’t be possible to accommodate their uninvited guests.

  3. Pingback: Is This Gift A Ploy For An Invitation? | Uncommon Courtesy

  4. Pingback: Wedding Invitations | Uncommon Courtesy

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