Ahh! It’s getting real, folks. You’ve secured the date and the time, you’ve picked your venue, and now it is time to let the world know that you’re getting hitched and they get to be part of the monumental event. The wedding invitation suite you choose says a lot about you and the vibe of your wedding, and is the first impression your guests get about your big day. The way you word your invite should reflect the atmosphere and theme of the event. So what do you say and how do you say it? Welcome to “Writing a Wedding Invitation 101.”
First, I like to stress that my favorite thing about modern weddings is there are no defined rules anymore. Use this blog as a guide, but know that very few people of our generation are going to critique every word on your invitation. This is a day to celebrate you and your partner – enjoy the process and try not to stress the small stuff!
Ok, hopefully your stress level has gone down a bit! Now on to the basics: Let’s break it down line by line.
The first line of the wedding invitation should always allude to, or directly list the host. Traditionally, the bride’s family paid for the wedding, but nowadays, there are many different ways to host.
If the bride’s family is paying for all or the majority of the wedding, it is most appropriate to formally list them as the hosts.
For example: “Mr. and Mrs. Abe Lincoln request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Anne Marie, to Bradley Thomas, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Washington.” (I’m clearly not too creative with my made-up in-laws. Go with it.) Many traditional invitations will list the couple’s first and middle names.
If the bride and groom are hosting, list your names in whatever order you want, or leave out this line altogether.
If the bride and groom and their respective families are all coming together to host, a phrase like “Together with their families, Abe Lincoln and Susie Q invite you to…”
According to Wedding Wire, most couples today help with at least 1/3 of their wedding costs. Subsequently, I’ve found that most of my invitation clients choose use the wording “together with their loving families,” or some variation of those terms.
The second line is typically reserved for the request. The word “honor” is often used for formal weddings, while “pleasure” is a more casual option. A formal wedding invite might say “Joe and Sally request the honor of your presence” while a more causal invite may say “Joe and Sally request the pleasure of your company…”
The third (and usually prettiest!) line is for the names of the couple. The bride’s name traditionally goes first and includes her first and middle names. The groom’s first and middle names follow.
The fourth line lets people know when and where they need to go. A formal invite spells out all of the numbers in the date, “June thirteenth, two thousand and nineteen” while something more casual lists the date as “June 13, 2019.” When it comes to times, remember anything between noon and 4 is considered afternoon, and anything after 5 is evening. Line five is for the address, and the last line is usually reserved for information about the reception. You do not need to list the address of your reception on the invitation if you plan to include a map or list it on the details card.
Now that we’ve covered the basics set up of a wedding invitation, let’s dive into the different wording options, depending on the theme and feel of your special day.
Traditional and religious
For an ultra-traditional wedding, your invites will probably follow a strict wedding invitation etiquette. If your wedding is going to be classic and religious, a classic script is customary. Phrases such as “request the honor of your presence” are common for these types of invites, and dates are written out completely.
If your big day is going the more semi-formal route, your wedding invite can reflect this is a few ways. Frequently, semi-formal wedding invites omit the middle names of the bride and groom, and spelling out the numbers in dates and addresses is not required. Simple phrases like “share in our joy” or “celebrate with us” work great, and the invite might even direct guests to a website where they can get more information about wedding details and the reception.
If you’re not so worried about the exact shade of blush to pick for your tablecloths or the number of flowers your flower girl sprinkles on the floor, your wedding invites can reflect this too. A more casual wedding may call for more relaxed invitation traditions. Casual wedding invitations often feature conversational writing, bright and poppy stationary, and leave out the “hosting” line altogether. Dates can be abbreviated, and phrases like “‘o’clock” or “PM” are perfectly acceptable.
If the idea of a big shindig to celebrate your love gives you a mini-panic attack, and you’d rather keep things low-key, more power to you! If you want to celebrate your commitment by throwing a fun backyard BBQ with picnic tables and yard games, or a quiet dinner with friends at home, a casual invite can help your guests know what to expect. Fully watercolored stationery is a popular option for this type of invite and mimics the wording you’d use if you were throwing a dinner party. For the details, just list your first names, and use conversational wording to let guests know it is an exclusive event reserved just for a close group of friends. Many couples choose completely hand-written invitations to help guests get a feel for the casual and simple vibe of their wedding.
As you continue on your wedding planning adventure, you’ll quickly learn that there are a lot of tiny decisions to make, and picking the right wording for an invitation is just the beginning. I love to help my stationery clients navigate the sometimes confusing world of wedding invitation etiquette. There are some guidelines for how to word invites if your parents are divorced, or remarried, or if one parent is deceased, or if the parents aren’t hosting at all. Your family is unique and you’re not alone in this – I’m happy to help!
Now that you know what you’re going to write, let’s create some pretty stationery to put it on!