As an invitation designer I get so many questions about the etiquette of invitation wording....while there are traditional ways to word an invitation...at the end of the day my answer to each bride is always the same... "It's your wedding and you can do whatever you want!" I will stand by that till the day I die! If a bride wants the date in numerical form or spelled out, why should that matter to the guest, as long as the bride is happy. While the desire to do things "however you want" is becoming more and more popular, there is still a desire for the traditional for some brides. And that is totally ok! Remember what I said earlier...it's YOUR wedding and you can do WHATEVER you want! So I am going to address some of the most commonly asked invitation etiquette questions and provide the traditional answer for all of them. Use it as a guide, stick to it to a tee, or disregard it completely. That's the beauty of a wedding day. It is unique as the couple being celebrated!
THE INVITATION LINE
The tradition of the bride’s parents sending out the wedding invitations (along with the tradition of the bride’s father giving away the bride) have their origins in the days when the bride’s father made the marriage arrangements for his daughter by negotiating the size of her dowry.
Today, the traditions continue with the bride’s family customarily hosting the wedding. But it’s not as easy as “Mr. and Mrs.”
How to present who is issuing the wedding invitations can be complex, which is why I have an entire blog dedicated to the Invitational Line. Click here for that blog entry!
The groom always uses his full name, preceded by his title. There are no abbreviations, except for “Mr.” All other titles, such as “Doctor” and “The Reverend”, should be written out, although “Doctor” may be abbreviated when used with a long name. If “Doctor” is used more than once on an invitation, its use should be consistent. If it’s necessary to abbreviate it with one of the names, it should be abbreviated with all names.
Initials should not appear on formal wedding invitations. Men who dislike their middle names and use their middle initial instead should be discouraged from doing so. If your fiancé refuses to use his middle name, it’s better to omit his middle name entirely than to use just his initial.
The joining word is the word that joins the names of the bride and groom. The preposition “to” is used on invitations to the wedding ceremony, as the bride is traditionally married to the groom.
The conjunction “and” is used on invitations to the reception, since the reception is given in honor of the bride and groom. “And” is also used on Jewish wedding invitations and on invitations issued by the bride and groom.
Which is more formal: “request the honour of your presence” or “request the pleasure of your company”?
Both phrases are equally formal. They are just used under different circumstances.
My wedding is being held at home and is a religious ceremony. May I use “request the honour of your presence”?
The use of “request the honour of your presence” is reserved for weddings held on sanctified ground, so it’s not properly used for a wedding held at home.
The full name of the facility is always given; so the location line for the wedding held at a church, for example, uses the full corporate name of the church. There should be no abbreviations. “Saint” is always spelled out. Likewise, a church commonly referred to as “Saint Matthew’s Church” might actually be “Church of Saint Matthew” or “Saint Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church.” You should check with a clergyman or the church secretary to confirm the correct name.
My parents are hosting my wedding at home. How is that indicated?
The location given is simply your parents’ address. Since your wedding is taking place outside a house of worship, “request the pleasure of your company” is used.
The accepted rule on using the street address is that its inclusion is optional — unless there’s more than one facility with that name in that town, in which case it’s mandatory. The street address is also used when the facility is not well known or when there are a number of out-of-town guests.
Since giving the street address is an additional courtesy to your guests, it’s almost always proper. The only time its use is not proper is when directions and map cards are used (which makes the street address redundant).
Including the street address, however, adds an extra line to the invitation. Most invitations, especially those engraved in script lettering styles, look better with fewer lines of copy. So consider the aesthetics before you decide to include the address.
An old superstition claims that being married on the half hour brings good fortune because the minute hand is ascending toward heaven, while being married on the hour leads to a bad marriage since, as with the minute hand, it’s all downhill from there.
We like to think the only time that matters, however, is that which a couple spends together. Even at quarter ‘til.
As for how and where the time of the wedding is presented on the invitation, it should appear on one line and with all letters in lowercase. If your wedding is being held at six o’clock, the time line simply reads, “at six o’clock.” The time line for weddings held at six thirty reads, “at half after six o’clock.”
The time line can designate the time of day by using either “in the morning,” “in the afternoon” or “in the evening.” For most times it’s not usually necessary, since a wedding held at six o’clock is obviously being held in the evening.
Weddings held at eight, nine or ten o’clock are another matter, since they could be held in either the morning or evening. In those cases, a designation denoting the time of day is helpful.
In any event, you may always include the time of day if you find it aesthetically pleasing, and most older, traditional invitations do include it.
The most formal wedding invitations are personalized. Personalized invitations are not only elegant, but also honor your guests by showing you care enough to make their names a part of your wedding invitations.
Your guests’ names are handwritten in black ink in a space reserved for them on the invitations. The handwriting on the invitations should match the handwriting used to address the envelopes. As on the mailing envelopes, your guests’ full names and social titles are used. If you don’t know a guest’s middle name, omit it.
We're having an adults-only wedding (no kids). How can we make sure this is clear to our guests?
Address your invitations correctly -- to each guest by name, not “and guest" -- and guests should understand that the invite is meant for only those mentioned. If you find that some reply with their children's names added, give them a call and explain that you're having an adults-only wedding and that you hope they can still attend. If there are a lot of kids in your family, you may want to consider hiring or arranging for a babysitter. It's definitely not required, but it's a nice gesture. Just be sure to include this information on the wedding website.
Do we have to invite every guest with a date or a “plus-one"?
No, you don't have to. If a guest isn't married or in a serious relationship, it's perfectly acceptable to invite them solo. Most guests will understand that without “and Guest" or another name on the invitation means they aren't invited with a plus-one. While it's always nice to invite everyone with a guest, if you're having a small wedding, your family and friends should understand your reasoning. What to do if a guest RSVPs for two? Call them up and explain that you're having an intimate wedding and, unfortunately, you were not able to invite everyone with a guest. But if you realize that nearly everyone will be coupled up, extend a plus-one invitation to your few single friends and family.
Obviously, this is not an all encompassing guide, however, hopefully it is a good start!
What other wedding etiquette questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below and I will talk through the process with you!