Wedding Invitations

Dare I say that this invitation seems more modern than what you would expect for a royal wedding? [Via Flickr user markhillary]

We’ve talked about what to do with a wedding invitation for a guest, so now we have the etiquette of actually sending out wedding invitations.

Save the Dates

Save the dates are a relatively recent invention— a pre-invitation of sorts. They should be sent out as soon as you finalize your date and rough location. These do not have to go out to everyone you think you are going to invite. They should mostly go out to the most important people and especially the ones that live furthest away and will need to make major travel plans. If you send someone a Save the Date, you MUST invite them to the wedding, no take backsies (with a few exceptions), thus you should be judicious about sending them to only the people you are sure you are going to invite, lest you wind up in a position where you invite 100 friends and then realize your parents had a list of 200 relatives and your venue only fits 150. I should note that Save the Dates are absolutely optional, but something that many couples find useful.

Invitations

The style of your invitation should match the style of your wedding. This helps guests have a hint of the style of dress to wear and what to expect. Never include information about gifts or registries, the invitation should be about your desire to have the guest attend your very important day, not about what towels you need. I do like a discreet wedding website URL on an invitation because then your invitation can be simple and elegant and your guests can get all the nitty gritty details online.

The great thing about wedding invitations these days is that the style can really represent your event any way you want. This is a far cry from back in the day when only engraved invitations on white, ivory, or cream paper (with no borders or other decorations!) were considered acceptable and all the old biddies would turn your invitation over so they could check for the slight tell-tale engraving indentation on the back. And don’t even get them started on mechanically-made embossing dies.

Invitation Wording

There are many ways to word an invitation. This is the very traditional formal version:

Mr. and Mrs. Gideon Humperdink

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Geraldine

to

Mr. Dudley Winklesmith

on Saturday, the fifteenth of March

Two thousand and fourteen

at five o’clock

The Church of the Holy Rollers

New York City

and afterward at

“The Snobby Club”

Now this invitation is worded for the parents of the bride as the hosts and at a church wedding. If the wedding is not at a church, you would substitute “request the pleasure of your company” for the words “request the honour of your presence” (honour is always spelled with a u in formal wedding invitations and is only used for a church ceremony). Also, traditionally in Jewish weddings, you write “the marriage of their daughter Geraldine and Mr. Dudley Smith” (using “and” in place of “to”).  On a formal invitation, you can put RSVP in the lower left corner. Dress code does not belong on a formal invitation, except, Black Tie may be written in the lower left corner. (But please, do find a way to tell your guests what the dress code is.)

The modern formal invitation often acknowledges the joint hosting by the couple and/or their parents and often includes both sets of parents regardless of who is hosting. A modern formal invitation would look more like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Gideon Humperdink

and Mr. and Mrs. Irving Winklesmith

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of

Miss Geraldine Humperdink

to

Mr. Dudley Winklesmith

on Saturday, the fifteenth of March

Two thousand and fourteen

at five o’clock

The Church of the Holy Rollers

New York City

and afterward at

“The Snobby Club”

If the couple is hosting on their own, the invitation would look more like this:

The pleasure of your company

is requested at the marriage of

Miss Geraldine Humperdink

to

Mr. Dudley Winklesmith

on Saturday, the fifteenth of March

Two thousand and fourteen

at five o’clock

 The Snobby Club

New York City

Of course, these days you are welcome to do almost anything with your invitations! You should, however, include:

  • That it is, indeed, a wedding. (or a commitment ceremony or whatever, just some indication of what kind of event you are having).
  • Who is getting married (including the last names somewhere [in the examples above, Geraldine is used alone only following her parents names—if she had a different last name then them, she would be noted as Miss Geraldine Smith).
  • The date and the time (the time is traditionally listed as when the ceremony starts, but you might want to give ½ an hour or so buffer so everyone is definitely there before you start.) And don’t feel like you have to spell the date and time out, numerals are just fine.
  • The location.

Some informal invitation wordings that I like are:

Geraldine Marie Humperdink

and

Dudley Michael Winklesmith

request the pleasure of your company

at their marriage

etc

Together with their parents

Geraldine Marie Humperdink

and

Dudley Michael Winklesmith

request the pleasure of your company

at their marriage

etc

Please join

Geraldine Humperdink

and

Dudley Winklesmith

at the celebration of their marriage

etc

See many more great examples here.

Addressing Invitations

In the interest of space, please see this post on forms of address.

If you are using both an inner and outer envelope, you can use the formal address on the outer envelope and then just use first names on the inner envelope. The inner envelope is also a great space to include the names of kids you are inviting—parents only on the outer envelope and then everyone by first name on the inner.

Mailing Invitations

Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks ahead of time, especially these days with the abundance of Save the Dates, the actual invitation is really more of a formality.

Response Cards

Technically response cards are against etiquette because including them insultingly implies that the guest doesn’t know to RSVP correctly (which is technically with a handwritten response on their own stationery). However, nowadays, many people don’t know how to RSVP “correctly” so I think they are a useful tool. If you do use them, make sure to include a self addressed, stamped envelope. And for your own sanity, make sure to include a line asking for their name so you know who is responding! Email, phone, and wedding website RSVP instructions are all perfectly acceptable as well.

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One thought on “Wedding Invitations

  1. Pingback: Registries, Wedding Gifts, and Thank You Notes | Uncommon Courtesy

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