Wedding invitation wording might not be as creative of a process to think about as paper designs, calligraphy and colour schemes. Still, when it comes down to it, even the most gorgeous wedding invitations need to be informative.
Your wedding invitations should convey the basic information about your celebration all while offering a sneak peek of your wedding aesthetic and style as a couple. They should spell out all essential wedding info—who's getting married, who's hosting, and where and when the ceremony and reception will take place. (Psst: everything else—like your registry and wedding party info—goes on your wedding website.) And while we're about to get into some classic wedding invitation wording samples, you should feel empowered to shake things up if your wedding style is more modern, relaxed or nontraditional.
Now that you've picked out your stationery, it's time to take on wedding invitation wording. Whether you want to keep the wording classic and traditional or creative and whimsical is up to you, but whatever route you choose, there are still basic elements that should be included no matter what.
Your invitations are your guests' first glimpse of your wedding style, so if you are hosting a traditional affair, you are sure to need our traditional wedding invitations with the appropriate wedding invitation wording. The text on all of our invitations can be fully personalised so use our formal traditional wedding invitation wording to set the tone for your classical wedding day or a wedding hosted by the bride or groom's parents. Who would have thought that there are so many options for wording your invitations? Luckily we are here to help with traditional wedding invitation wording ideas! If these options seem a bit too formal for your wedding style, then take a look at our informal wedding invitation wording suggestions instead.
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Wedding Invitation Wording Etiquette
So you've picked your stationery design (if you haven't, check out some of our favourites)—next comes figuring out how to write a wedding invitation. Of course, you'll want to include a date, time and location, but what else? There's a lot to consider when deciding on a wedding invitation format, especially considering one that includes all pertinent information your guests need to know.
We recommend including your wedding website on a separate insert so your guests can have easy access to details about your day as well as your registry (especially since including registry details on the invitation itself is not always well-received). Plus, our wedding websites allow guests to digitally RSVP, so you can keep track of who's coming in real-time.
In case that wasn't enough. After your guests receive your wedding invitation in the mail, they can go to your wedding website and see the same colours, patterns and designs. This offers your guests a cohesive experience allowing them to appreciate your aesthetic (both digitally and physically) all while getting excited about your nuptials.
Also, feel free to deviate from traditional wedding invitation wording whenever you see fit. Wedding invites (and the titles typically used on them) are inherently gendered and exclusive. There's no need to feel pressure to use "Mr." and "Mrs." at all—it's more than OK just to use your guests' names without titles. If you'd like to go the traditional route, know that "Mx." is a gender-inclusive option you can use on your invites. Whatever you decide, make sure it feels genuine and authentic to you (it's your wedding, after all).
See below for a full list of what information you need to include in your wedding invitation wording:
- The names of the hosts (titles optional)
- An explicit request to attend the wedding
- The names of the couple
- The date and time
- The locations (name of the venue and address)
- Reception information (location and time)
- Dress code
- Wedding website information (optional to include on separate insert)
Typical features of traditional wedding invitation wording
- Traditional wedding invitations are written in the third person
- The bride's name appears before that of the groom
- The dates and times are spelt out in words
- Use of full names including middle names
- Often written on behalf of the parents hosting the wedding
What to include on your traditional wedding invitations
- A line to denote who is hosting the wedding (parents or the couple)
- A request line, inviting your guests to your wedding
- The full names of the happy couple
- Date and time of the ceremony
- Venue information
- Reception information
- RSVP deadline
- RSVP contact details
Take on Wedding Invitation Wording Line by Line
The Host Line: Who's Hosting
Traditionally, the bride's parents are the hosts of the wedding and are named at the top of the invitation, even for very formal affairs. However, including the names of both sets of parents as hosts is a gracious option no matter who foots the bill. Also, more and more couples these days are hosting their own weddings, or do so together with their parents.
If it's a collaborative affair hosted and paid for by the bride, groom, and both sets of parents, you can also use "Together with their parents, Emma and Jax request the pleasure of your company ..."
Not sure how you want your wedding stationery to look? Check out our list of 28 Wedding Invitation Ideas to help you choose.
What If Any Parents are Deceased?
If you want to include the name of a parent who is deceased, you'll need to rearrange things a bit, as someone who has passed can't actually serve as a host. An alternate way, then, to include a deceased parent just means rearranging the wording a bit. Try this, for example:
- Julia French, daughter of Mr. Adam French and the late Iris French,
- Austin Mahoney, son of Mr. Camden and Elizabeth Mahoney,
- request the honour of your presence
- at their wedding
- on the fifth of May, two thousand seventeen
- at one o'clock in the afternoon
- The Reagan Library
- Simi Valley, California
- Dinner & dancing to follow
- Black tie required
What to Do If Any Parents are Divorced and/or Remarried
If the bride or groom's parents are divorced, and you want to include both as hosts, you can include them all, just keep each parent on a separate line. If you're going to include the name of a stepparent, keep it on the same line as their partner. It might seem complex at first, but all it requires is a few more lines. This is an example of a bride with divorced (and remarried) parents' wedding invitation wording:
- Dr. Vance and Elizabeth Gregory
- and Mr. James Abner and Lydia Abner
- and Mr. Harold and Jane Hyland
- invite you to the wedding of their children
- Amy Abner and Charles Hyland 01.06.18 | 4 p.m.
- Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church
- Newport, California
- Reception immediately after
The Request Line: Please Come!
There are many ways to ask for the pleasure of your guests' company. The British spelling of "honour" traditionally indicates the ceremony will be held in a church or another house of worship. Here are a few options:
- "the pleasure of your company"
- "at the marriage of their children"
- "would love for you to join them"
- "invite you to celebrate with them"
- "honour of your presence"
- The Names of Couple
If their names haven't been included in the host line, they should still take centre stage a few lines down. No one would forget to add this to a wedding invitation, of course, but you might be wondering whose name should go first on a wedding invitation? Traditionally the name of the bride always precedes the groom's name. Formal invitations issued by the bride's parents refer to her by her first and middle names, the groom by his full name and title; if the couple is hosting by themselves, their titles are optional.
For same-sex couples, the traditional rule of the woman first and man second isn't applicable. Whether it's "Emily and Zara" or "Zara and Emily," it's going to be lovely either way.
The Date and Time
For formal weddings, everything is written out in full (no numerals). The year is optional (the assumption being your wedding is on the nearest such date). Time of day is spelled out using "o'clock" or "half after five o'clock." The use of a.m. or p.m. is optional. For casual weddings, numerals are fine.
The street address of a venue is not usually needed unless omitting it would lead to confusion or your wedding is taking place at the host's home. The city and state should be written out in full in either case.
Very formal invitations include this information on a separate card. Otherwise, it can be printed on the wedding invitation itself if there is room; if the ceremony and reception are held in the same location, you may print "and afterwards at the reception" or "reception immediately following." When the reception is elsewhere, the location goes on a different line.
Wedding invitation etiquette dictates that the dress code—if you include it on the invitation— is the lower right-hand corner of the invitation. If you don't include a note on attire, the invitation will indicate the dress code. For example, if the invitation is very fancy, guests will likely be anticipating a formal, black-tie affair, or conversely, if the invitation on the simpler side, that indicates a more casual dress code.
Separate RSVP Card
Most couples choose to include a separate response card for guests to fill out and return in the mail. You also have the option of having people RSVP via your wedding website. If that's the case, include the website address on a separate card, just as you would with an RSVP card, and indicate that guests can let you know if they can come directly on the site.
Wedding Invitation Wording, Based on Who's Hosting
A few basic wedding invitation wording tips: If one person's parents are hosting, it's customary to leave off that person's last name. However, if that person has a different last name than their parents, include their full name. The person's last name should also be included in their partner's parents are involved in hosting.
Wedding Invitation Wording If One Set of Parents Is Hosting
In this case, the invitation includes one person's parents' names, so you can omit that person's last name (unless they have a different last name than their parents). On the following line, write out the other person's entire name. Same-sex couples or gender non-conforming folks should follow similar guidelines. The host of the celebration (read: the people footing the bill) is listed first, followed by their child's name, followed by their child's partner's name.
General Do's and Don'ts
- No punctuation is used except after courtesy titles such as Mr. and Dr.
- Capital letters are treated as the beginning of sentences as you would read them and not be used at the beginning of every line
- Proper names and courtesy titles are also capitalised
- Numbers in the date are spelled out and follow the day of the week (ex: Saturday, the second of July)
- Years can be used but are not necessary. If you wish to include the year, be sure to spell it out (ex: Two thousand and five)
- The time is spelled out and written to describe the placement of hands on a clock. Examples:
- Half after two or half-past two (not 2:30 p.m.)
- Three o'clock in the afternoon (not 3:00 p.m.)
- Seven o'clock in the evening
- Formal invitations are usually written in third-person. For example, "Mr. and Mrs. Craig Chastain" instead of "We."
- In general, avoid using abbreviations. Always spell out commonly abbreviated words such as street, months, days of the week, etc.
Be sure to spell out contractions (ex: "do not" instead of "don't"). You do not want your recipients to think you were in a rush when writing your wedding invitations!
The first line is often the most difficult to iron out as it's often seen as a way not only to convey who is hosting the wedding but who the couple would like to recognise. Before blended families and when women were brides at young ages, it was almost always the bride's family who hosted (and thus paid for) the wedding. Now, a combination of people in a couple's life host weddings.
Extending the Invitation
The next line - how the hosts extend the invitation - varies depending on the venue and also on personal preference.
The phrase "the honour (or honour) of your presence" is traditionally reserved for worship services or a wedding that takes place in a church or synagogue.
The "pleasure of your company" or "honour of your company" usually indicates that the service will not be a worship service.
Etiquette outlines only what is traditional, not what you should and should not do. Other wording for this line includes:
- ...would like you to help celebrate the marriage of
- ...invite you to celebrate with them at the marriage of
- ...would consider it a blessing if you could be present at the marriage of
- ...request the pleasure of your company
- ...request the pleasure of your presence
Whose address should be the return address?
The return address printed on the envelope flap should be the address of those hosting the event, not necessarily the bride and groom. Names are not commonly used with a formal return address. Guests who are unable to attend but wish to send a gift will use this address.
Whose address should be on the response envelope?
Having your name and address pre-printed on the front of the Response Card envelope is a good way to encourage your guests to respond promptly. Traditionally the hosts' name and address should appear on the response envelope. However, you may use the most convenient address.
"No Children" - How to Address this Situation
There really is no easy way to tell your guests that their beloved children are not invited. The most subtle approach is to spread the "no children" restriction by word of mouth or on your wedding website. If you are looking for a more "formal" statement, here are two ways to avoid putting the bad news directly on the invitation:
- Note "Adult Reception" on the reception card
- On the response card:
- Please respond on or before (Date)
- Number of Adults____
While incorporating modern and contemporary details into different elements of your wedding can make the day undeniably cool, there are certain times when tradition wins out. If you're of the mindset that classic options seem to beat all others, go with your gut and choose something timeless—especially true when it comes to your wedding stationery. The following invitation suites may all keep a foot in the past, but they still work well for today's weddings. Calligraphy, elegant typefaces, tried and true printing methods and subdued colours are just a few of the many design features that make classic stationery so versatile.
Whether your entire wedding will be kept classic or you just want the invitations (which are often held on to as mementos) to stand the test of time, you can't go wrong with these stationery suite designs. Ahead, our favourite traditional-invite inspiration, some that may look quite similar to your parents' paper goods and others that have a fresh spin but still stand the test of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is proper to address a wedding invitation to a person's full name. For those using an inner envelope, then the outer envelope can omit them, while the inner envelope has the full names of everyone invited, but for those who only have one envelope, it should be addressed to everyone in full.
The name of the bride always precedes the groom's name. Formal invitations issued by the bride's parents refer to her by her first and middle names, the groom by his full name and title; if the couple is hosting by themselves, their titles are optional.
How should you list those names? ... Last names aren't needed for the bride or groom if their parents are listed on the invitation. Typically, wedding invitations include the first and middle names of both the bride and groom, and the first, middle and last names of the bride and groom if parents aren't listed.
Traditionally the name of the bride always precedes the groom's name. Formal invitations issued by the bride's parents refer to her by her first and middle names, the groom by his full name and title; if the couple is hosting by themselves, their titles are optional.
A wedding invitation is issued by the host(s). The hosts' name(s) are spelled out and include middle names and titles. ... Doctor should be spelled out, unless the name would be too long to fit on one line.