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Insight into Wedding Invitation Etiquette
Home Family Marriage
By: Annamarya Scaccia Email Article
Word Count: 929 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


A wedding invitation is the first introduction guests will have to your special day.

The wording and design will give your invitees an idea of the ceremony’s overall theme. A playful invitation says that your wedding is informal, while an elegant one will says it’s more traditional. Also, wording itself can say a lot. While some couples choose to go the more formal route with "we request the honor of your presence," more modern couples go with something less conventional like, "we are delighted for you to attend…"

When it comes to paying for the wedding, standard phrasing would read: "Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Lee request the honor of your presence of their daughter Rachel Anna to Mr. Thomas Mark Kane…" for one set of parents.

However, if both sets of parents are paying, the invitation would read: "Mr. and Mrs. Luke Kane and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Samuels request the honor..." Also, the bride’s parents and the bride should be listed first, only using her first and middle, with the groom’s name to follow, using a title and his first, middle and last name (more modern interpretations don’t use the title or use first and last names for bride and groom). This is only if the bride’s parents are paying.

If the groom parents are paying, their names and their son’s name should be listed first. You can include the names of the non-hosting family by writing "…to Mr. Andrew Jack Samuels, son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Samuels." If the couple is paying for the wedding, it should read: "You are cordially invited to the wedding of Lisa Marie and Mr. Andrew Jack Samuels."

Invitation phrasing can get a bit tricky beyond the aforementioned examples. With divorced parents, the way the names are listed is the same, however, whichever parent is paying for the wedding is the name written (i.e. "Ms. Katherine Howards request the honor of your presence at the wedding of her daughter). If the divorced parents are both paying, write "Mr. Jason Daugherty and Ms. Sharon Jones request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter…"

There are a number of ways to handle divorced parents who remarried. If the divorced parent and new spouse are hosting, it would read: "Mr. and Mrs. Peter Tuck request the honor to your presence at the marriage of Mrs. Tuck’s daughter…" If both parents are remarried, it will read "Mr. and Mrs. Peter Tuck and Mr. and Mrs. Jason Daugherty request the honor your presence at the marriage of their daughter," "…of Mr. Tucks and Mrs. Daugherty’s daughter," or "…at the marriage of Jane Lucy Tuck."

With invites, there’s a certain level of decorum that should be followed when addressing your invitation. When addressing a professional and their spouse, the professional title is listed first. If the wife is a doctor, the invitation reads: Dr. Marie Jones and Mr. Thomas Jones (if there are two last names, it would read: Dr. Marie Jones and Mr. Thomas McKay).

If the husband is the doctor, you would write: Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Jones (if they have different last names, write: Dr. Thomas McKay and Mrs. Marie Jones). If they’re both doctors, write: The Doctors Jones or Dr. Thomas Jones and Dr. Marie Jones (the male name goes first). If neither is a professional, then write: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas McKay (the husband’s name should only be acknowledged). If you are addressing an individual, use "Mr." or "Ms."

As for other phrasing, dates and times are traditionally spelled out, with the month and day capitalized (if it’s in 3:30 p.m., the invitation would read: "half after three o’clock in the afternoon.") However, it’s not inappropriate to write "Saturday, January 17, 2010 at 5 p.m.," so it’s a matter of choice. As for the location, well-known places don’t need an address, but smaller locations and residences do.

Reception information can be written on the card or on a separate reply card. On the invitation, you would write: "Reception to follow at…" or "Dessert and dancing to follow." A separate reception card is more appropriate when the wedding service and reception are in different locations, or if the party doesn’t follow immediately (i.e. "Reception, 9 o’clock, Valley Forge Historical Society, 345 Valley Forge Road, Valley Forge, PA.").

Also include all optional details to help your guests dress appropriately for the event. Words like "Semi-formal," "Black Tie," or "Dressy Casual" work. If you’d prefer no children at the reception, write: "Adult reception," as "No Children" is regarded as rude. Never include information about gifts, registries or cash in lieu of gifts, as it may come across as materialistic.

The wording of your invitation shows the level of reverence you have for your guests and family, and while some may view your word choices as appropriate, others may view it as disrespectful. Make sure your follow protocol to a-T so you won’t leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.

Annamarya Scaccia is a freelance writer who writes about weddings and wedding invitations .

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