How to Word Wedding Invitations

While it might seem like a simple task, deciding how to word wedding invitations can quickly get confusing. Whether you are having a church wedding, a non-denominational wedding or a completely different wedding entirely, the wording on your wedding invitation should match the upcoming event perfectly. While the design and font work together to set the tone of the wedding, the wedding invitation's job is to provide the crucial details such as time, location and date.

Wedding Invitations 101

A formal wedding invitation requires a more strict wedding invitation format than others. The traditional wording applies here and includes the following elements, with forward slashes indicating line breaks:

  • Begin with the parents of the bride, using formal titles (Mr. and Mrs. James Dunn/ request the honour of your/ presence at the marriage of their daughter). Note the use of British spelling for "honour."
  • Use the bride's first and middle name, if any, and join it with the groom's first, middle and last name using the words "to" or "with" (Natalie Jane/ to/ Matthew Clark Jones).
  • Spell out every number in the day, date, year and time (Saturday, the twenty-sixth of June/Two thousand and eight/ at one o'clock in the afternoon).
  • Include the name of the church, the city and state, but not the address (Clinton Hills Church of Christ/ Clinton, Georgia).

Here is a finished formal wedding invitation template:

Mr. and Mrs. James Dunn

request the honour of your

presence at the marriage of their daughter

Natalie Jane

to

Matthew Clark Jones

Saturday, the twenty-sixth of June

Two thousand and eight

at one o'clock in the afternoon

Clinton Hills Church of Christ

Clinton, Georgia

Informal Wedding Invitations

Anything short of a formal wedding allows for a variety of wording, especially when it comes to the couple's personality and style. The best way to choose the right wording for your wedding invitations is to examine every part of the invite.

Who is hosting. Generally, the bride's parents are considered the hosts and should therefore appear first on the invitation. You can be a little more traditional with "Mr. and Mrs. James Dunn," or you can choose the more open "James and Kate Dunn." If the bride and groom are hosting their own wedding, the opening line could read "Together with their families,/ Natalie Dunn and Matthew Jones."

The invite. On this line, you are asking the recipient to attend the wedding. Choose the more formal "request the honour of your/ presence at the marriage of their daughter" reserved for church weddings to the more casual "request the pleasure of your/ company at the wedding of" or "would be delighted for you to attend" for a secular wedding or a home wedding.

The bride and groom. Here is where you can choose to stick to tradition with "Natalie Jane to Mr. Matthew Clark Jones" or go more casual with "Natalie Dunn to Matthew Jones."

Day, date and time. On a more formal invitation, these can be spelled out, but for an informal wedding invitation, they can be written in the more familiar style: "Saturday, June 26, 2008, at 1:00 p.m."

The venue. Decide if the location is well known, and then simply include the name, city and state. If the wedding is being held in a home or other obscure location, include an address.

Big no-no's. Never print information on a registry, gift directions (such as cash or charitable donations in lieu of gifts), or anything else related to gifts on the invitation. Remember, this is an invitation for the pleasure of the company of loved ones, not a gift request. If guests RSVP and ask about gifts, then you can let them know about the registry.

Here is the finished informal wedding invitation template:

James and Kate Dunn

request the pleasure of your

company at the wedding of

Natalie Dunn to Matthew Jones

Saturday, June 26, 2008, at 1:00 p.m.

The Yellow Rose Restaurant

Clinton, Georgia

Insert Cards and Envelopes

Other wedding-related details, such as a wedding luncheon, reception information, RSVP cards and more are usually printed on insert cards that are included with the invitations. Insert cards also call for several etiquette rules, and they vary between formal and informal invitations.

Reception. Many couples find it easier to include a reply card with reception information, as it is easier for guests to RSVP. If you decide to include reception information on the informal wedding invitation, simply include the information, "Reception to follow at the Copper Hills Country Club." It's a good idea to include as much information about the reception as possible on the reply card, such as "Cocktails and dancing to follow at a reception at the Copper Hills Country Club." More details are a courtesy, especially if you are not serving a full meal.

RSVP cards. These can be combined with a reception card, or they can be separate. These are generally designed for the guest to write in their information and send it back to the couple. Simply including some blank lines with a return-by statement is usually sufficient, "The favor of a reply is requested by May 15th." Or you can choose a more detailed approach, "Please reply before the fifteenth of May/Number of people in party____." You can also ask guests to note any food requests in case they are vegetarians or have food allergies. Once a guest RSVPs, you can follow up with more information about the wedding, such as directions to the ceremony and reception venues.

Envelopes. Addressing the wedding invitation envelopes requires certain etiquette as well. Formal invitations require two envelopes, and the outer envelope is always addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. X" along with the full address. Do not include "and family" on a formal wedding invitation envelope. The inner envelope simply bears the recipients' names. Informal wedding invitation envelopes generally list the recipient names and address on a single envelope, and it's usually considered good etiquette to use "Mr. and Mrs. X" as well. If a family includes children, and the children are not mentioned on the envelopes, it is assumed that children are not invited.

Blended Families and Wedding Invitations

With today's blended families, there are many different variations of wedding invitations. A bride with divorced and remarried parents may begin her invitations this way, "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith/and/Mr. and Mrs. James Doe/ request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter." A deceased parent may be addressed this way, "Emma Smith, daughter of Mrs. Jane Smith and the late John Smith/and Jerry Doe/son of Bob and Leslie Doe/request the pleasure of your company."

If you are working with a wedding planner, he or she should be able to handle the correct wording for all sorts of family situations.

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