Step 1: Who is Hosting?The first names your guests will see on your wedding invitation are those of the people who are paying for the event. Traditionally, this has been the bride's parents, and so it reads:
Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Beazley
Kate and Marvin Beazley
If the bride and groom are hosting, then the line reads
Ms. Jane Doe and Mr. Sam Smith
Together with their families,
Jane Doe and Sam Smith
Step 2: The RequestThe next line in a wedding invitation is the one that requests that your guests attend.
If your ceremony is at a place of worship, then the line should read:
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Note the formal British spelling of the word "honor." The word daughter is used as an example and should be the gender of the person whose parents are hosting. If, on the other hand your ceremony is at home or other secular location, then the line should read:
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
would be delighted for you to attend
the marriage of their daughter
If the couple is hosting:
invite you to join us at the celebration of our marriage
Step 3: The Happy CoupleEtiquette says that the bride should be listed first, using first and middle names only. Then the groom should be listed, using both title and middle name.
So for example:
Mr. Scott Andrew Jackson
A more modern alternative is simply,
to Scott Jackson
Some couples, especially Jewish couples, may choose to use and instead of to.
Step 4: Date and TimeTraditionally, these are spelled out:
Saturday, the seventh of June
two thousand and fourteen
at four o'clock in the afternoon
note that the month and day are capitalized. If it were a 4:30 ceremony, the time would read at half after four o'clock in the afternoon.
but for a less formal ceremony, you can also write
Saturday, June 7, 2014
at 4 p.m.
Step 5: The LocationIf the ceremony is at a well known location, you needn't include the address:
The Museum of Fine Arts
but for smaller locations, or your home, you'd want to write out the address.
The Art Club
49 Marquis Road
Step 6: Time for the ReceptionLet your guests know there is going to be a party afterward . This can either be included on the wedding invitation or on a separate reply card.
On the wedding invitation, it would read
Reception to follow at the Briar Hills Country Club
If you're not serving a full meal, it is nice to let guests know. You might write:
And afterwards for cocktails and cake in the Rose Room.
Dessert and dancing to follow
A separate reception card is often good to use if the ceremony and reception are in different places, or the reception doesn't immediately follow the ceremony. It might read something like
Parker Grand Hotel
342 Allen Road
Step 7: Get Them to RSVPTraditionally, R.S.V.P. was written on the invitation, and guests knew to reply on their own stationery. Now, most couples find that they get responses more promptly if they include a separate reply card.
This can be mostly blank, allowing guests to write a note, with a line such as:
The favor of a reply is requested before the first of June
Or it can be more detailed, such as
Please reply before the first of June
_________Will not attend
You might also write:
Number of people in party_____
More RSVP card wording
Step 8: Optional detailsOptional details include telling your guests what to wear. Strictest etiquette tells you not to include information about attire on your invitation, but I think this is an outdated opinion. Guests appreciate clues about how to dress, and are not as instinctively knowledgeable as they used to be. To avoid someone showing up in blue jeans, include a line such as:
Other options: Semi-formal, cocktail attire, festive attire, creative black tie, white tie, black tie optional, dressy casual, informal. Definitions of these terms
Some couples who wish not to have children at the reception may write:
Which is more polite than writing No Children
Do NOT include information about gifts, your registry, or cash in lieu of gifts. This is an invitation, not a request for presents. How to Ask for Money Instead of Gifts
Please note, these are the standard, formal wedding invitation wordings. I suggest that you also read sample invitation wording, and invitation wording for non-traditional weddings.