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Wedding Invitation Etiquette

The wording of your invitation and its accompanying papers should match its design and the mood of your wedding—and it should also reflect your personality. We hope this guide helps you understand the tradition behind wedding invtation wording and helps you decide what to follow...and what to forget!

 

HOST LINE—Given the complicated dynamics of today’s families, this is perhaps the one line that causes the most confusion. Traditionally, the hosts are whoever is paying for the wedding, but many couples wish to be more inclusive.

  • bride’s parents hosting
    Mr. and Mrs. Nick Carver

  • bride’s and groom’s parents sharing [the bride’s parents are always listed first]
    Mr. and Mrs. Nick Carver
    Dr. and Mrs. Emory Smith

  • bride’s parents hosting, wanting to mention groom’s parents [this wording lets them be included even when they’re not planning or paying for the wedding]
    Mr. and Mrs. Nick Carver
    request the honour of your presence
    at the marriage of their daughter
    Andrea Ruth to Mr. Tyler Douglas Smith
    son of Dr. and Mrs. Emory Smith

  • divorced parents hosting or parent has remarried [names are listed on separate lines (without ‘and’), mother’s name first. This example also shows wording if a parent has remarried]
    Mrs. Ruth Carver
    Mr. and Mrs. Nick Carver

  • couple hosting
    Andrea Carver and Tyler Smith

  • couple hosting: want to include both families [this is also a good solution for complex or delicate situations]
    Together with their families
    Andrea Carver and Tyler Smith

  • parent has passed away [it’s not traditional to include a deceased parent, but many people feel strongly about doing so. wording should make it clear that the deceased parent is not issuing the invitation]
    The pleasure of your company
    is requested at the marriage of
    Andrea Ruth Carver
    daughter of Nick Carver and the late Ruth Carver
    to Tyler Douglas Smith

REQUEST LINE—This is one of the few places on the invitation where you can be more creative with the wording, though invitations to ceremonies held in a place of worship traditionally follow conventional language, signifying the solemnity of the event.

  • ceremony at a place of worship [british spelling is used on formal invitations]
    request the honour of your presence
    at the marriage of their daughter

  • ceremony at a secular location [this is a common, less formal wording]
    request the pleasure of your company
    at the marriage of their daughter

  • informal, parents hosting [you may use similar wording or think of your own]
    would be delighted by your presence
    at the wedding of their children

  • informal, couple hosting
    invite you to join them in celebrating their wedding

 

BRIDE AND GROOM LINES—The names are listed on separate lines, with the bride’s name first. They may be linked by “to” or by “and,” which is customary for Jewish weddings.

  • traditional [the bride’s first name stands alone; the groom’s name is preceded by “Mr.,” and his last name is used]
    Andrea Ruth
    to
    Mr. Tyler Douglas Smith

  • contemporary [you may use titles for both or omit them entirely; this is also appropriate when both sets of parents are hosting]
    Andrea Carver
    to
    Tyler Smith

DATE AND TIME LINES—It’s not necessary to use am or pm, since the hour usually makes this obvious, but you can if you like. Alternately, you may substitute “in the morning,” “noon,” “in the afternoon,” or “in the evening” as appropriate.

  • traditional [the day and the month are capitalized; year and time are not. the year may also be omitted.]
    Saturday, the twenty-second of April
    two thousand and ten
    at half after four o’clock

  • contemporary [this is still formal enough for a black tie wedding if it seems more suited to the design of the invitation]
    Saturday, April 22, 2010
    at 4:30 pm

LOCATION LINE—City landmarks and well-known locations don’t require addresses. As shown, line breaks are used instead of commas, except to separate city and state.

  • ceremony at a place of worship [for formal invitations, spell out “saint” and other common abbreviations]
    Saint Bartholomew’s Church
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • ceremony held in a location other than a place of worship
    San Jacinto Ballroom
    Four Seasons Hotel
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • unfamiliar location with address [words like “our home” or “at the residence of” may precede the address. spelling out street numbers under twenty is most formal.]
    The Carver House
    6993 Vine St.
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

RECEPTION LINE/RECEPTION CARD—Including a line on the invitation is most common these days, but if only some guests are invited to the ceremony, a separate card will be necessary.

  • on invitation—reception & ceremony at same location
    and afterward at the reception

  • on invitation—reception and ceremony at different locations
    Reception immediately following the ceremony
    Four Seasons Hotel

  • separate reception card [if the reception and the ceremony are in different places, and you want to include an address, a card keeps the invitation from looking too busy. when the reception doesn’t immediately follow the ceremony, mention the time.]
    Reception
    seven o’clock
    ---
    The Carver House
    6993 Vine St.
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Hope that helps! Still have more questions? Download the full Etiquette .pdf and Planner .pdf below. 

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