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Basic Wording for Wedding Invitations

A Guide to Wording Your Wedding Invitations Correctly

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The wording of your wedding invitations varies according who is hosting.

Traditional wedding invitation wording is used for classic weddings.

Walter B. McKenzie / Getty Images
The wedding invitation sets the tone and indicates the level of formality of the event. If you're hosting a classic wedding, the wording of the wedding invitations should follow these traditional guidelines.

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

or

Kate and Marvin Beazley

If the bride and groom are hosting, then the line reads

Ms. Jane Doe and Mr. Sam Smith
or,
Together with their families,
Jane Doe and Sam Smith


Step 2: The Request

The 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


or

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 Couple

Etiquette 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:

Nora Jane
to
Mr. Scott Andrew Jackson


A more modern alternative is simply,

Nora Beazley
to Scott Jackson


Some couples, especially Jewish couples, may choose to use and instead of to.


Step 4: Date and Time

Traditionally, 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 Location

If the ceremony is at a well known location, you needn't include the address:

The Museum of Fine Arts
Houston, Texas


but for smaller locations, or your home, you'd want to write out the address.

The Art Club
49 Marquis Road
Blair, Utah



Step 6: Time for the Reception

Let 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.

Or

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

Reception
8 o'clock

Parker Grand Hotel
342 Allen Road
Pike, Oregon



Step 7: Get Them to RSVP

Traditionally, 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

M___________________________
_________Will attend
_________Will not attend


You might also write:

Number of people in party_____

More RSVP card wording

Step 8: Optional details

Optional 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:

Black Tie

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:

Adult reception

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.
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