How to Write a Wedding Invitation

Learning how to write a wedding invitation, and what to include, doesn't vary much, whether you are having a traditional or contemporary wedding. The purpose of the wedding invitation is to give guests all the information they need about the upcoming event. Luxury wedding invitations and stylish wedding invitation envelopes may add to people's appreciation of your planning and the significance of the event, but don't overlook the importance of letting people know when and where the event will take place.

Wedding Invitation Essentials
There are rules governing how the wedding invitation is laid out and what information is included. Make sure you've got all of the following:

Who the Hosts Are
The hosts of the wedding issue the invitation. Traditionally, whoever is paying for the event is listed first on the invitation. In years past, it was always the bride's parents. An invitation like this would read

Mr. and Mrs. John Doe


John and Jane Doe

Times have changed, and the bride and groom may be paying for the wedding. In this case, the couple's name appears first:

Ms. Jane Doe and Mr. Joe Smith

An alternate wording acknowledges that both families are hosting:

Together with their families,
Jane Doe and Joe Smith
Request your attendance

Where the Event Takes Place
Next, your invitation politely requests that your guests attend the happy event. Again, etiquette dictates the wording, for a ceremony at a house of worship use the following:

Request the honor of your presence

For non-religious ceremonies use this language:

Request the pleasure of your company

There are several other ways to request your guests' attendance at a secular ceremony, including

would be delighted for you to attend

invite you to join us at the celebration of our marriage

Who Is Getting Married
The bride's name is listed first using first and middle name only. Then groom is listed with title, middle name and last name.

Nancy Jane
Mr. John Dave Doe

You can also use the following for a more modern touch:  

Jane Doe
to John Smith

Ceremony Time
It is traditional to spell everything in the date out. Do not use abbreviations. Do use the day as well as the date.  

Saturday, the first of June
two thousand and ten
at two o'clock in the afternoon

For ceremonies on the half hour, the time would read "at half after two o'clock in the afternoon."

Ceremony Location
A ceremony held at a well-known location doesn't need to include the address. If you go this route, be sure to include directions to the location on a separate sheet of paper. Include information on parking as well.

Museum of Modern Art
Chicago, Illinois

Locations that aren't well known need the address written out. Again, include brief driving directions as well as information on where to park on a separate piece of paper.

The Diamond Club
1250 Valley Drive
Chicago, Illinois

You may include the reception information on the wedding invitation or on a separate card. If included on the wedding invitation, use the following words:

Reception to follow at [reception site]

It is helpful to specify whether the reception includes a meal or is just cake and beverages/

After-the-ceremony cocktails and cake at The Hilton


Dessert and dancing to follow

A reception card is used if the ceremony and reception are in different places, or the reception doesn't immediately follow the ceremony.  

Reception to follow at Eight o'clock
Hilton Hotel
5000 Airport Lane
Chicago, Illinois

Including a response card for guests to RSVP is much easier. A simple card allows the guest to check yes or no and the number attending. If there are dinner choices, such as steak or fish, include this on the reception card and let the guests check off their choices.

Finally, be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with the guest's name and address written in the sender's corner. This lets your guests simply fill out the reception card, slip it into the envelope and mail it back to you. Avoid the temptation to let guests RSVP by e-mail, telephone or text message. Instead, gather the returned cards and put them in a safe place. This will give you an instant reference point that can't be accidentally deleted or lost in a sea of e-mail messages. 

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