Not sure how to word your wedding invitations? It might seem simple at first, but once you get started, you may realize that crafting the perfect wedding invitation wording can be a little tricky. There are etiquette rules to navigate and maybe a couple of sticky situations to figure out. But in a nutshell, the wording of your invitation should reflect the overall vibe of your wedding day.
Your wedding invitations are an important piece of the planning puzzle. Not only are your invitations one of the first things your guests will see, touch, and feel when it comes to your wedding, but they do an important job of conveying critical information. For the sake of politeness and formality, as well as for clarity of your message, be sure to choose clear and appropriate wording on your wedding invitations.
Worried you’re not good with words, or you don’t know all the proper “rules” for wedding invitation wording? Follow our comprehensive guide, outlined below, to understand the complete ins and outs of wedding invitation wording etiquette.
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Wedding Invitation Wording Goals
Good wedding invitation wording should accomplish the following jobs:
- Tell guests the critical information about the wedding: who is getting married, the wedding date, and the wedding location.
- Recognize the hosts of the wedding.
- Convey the tone and formality of the wedding, including the dress code.
- Indicate how guests should RSVP if no response or other enclosure cards are included.
- Recognize the couple’s parents if they are not also the hosts. (Optional)
This is true for traditional weddings, nontraditional weddings, formal weddings, informal weddings, and everything in between. No matter what your wedding style is, you want your wedding invites to be clear.
Ready to get started? We’ve compiled this guide to wedding invitation wording and etiquette right here.
Where to Start
Writing a wedding invitation can be fairly daunting. Many couples are not sure of the etiquette and are a little confused as to how to address a wedding invite. There are so many options and just as many rules – it can be tough to wrap your head around the dos and don’ts! But don’t worry, this is what we’re here for!
There are two questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on your wedding invitation wording:
- Is your wedding going to be a formal and traditional day or a more informal affair?
- Who is paying for hosting the wedding – is it you and your partner, or are your parents helping out with the bill? Perhaps it’s a combination of you and your parents paying for the day.
The style of your wedding will set the tone for your wedding invitation wording. Formal language is best for traditional affairs, but if you’re planning a more casual day, you have scope to be a bit more cheeky or inventive with your wording.
Not sure how you want your wedding stationery to look? Check out our list of 28 Wedding Invitation Ideas to help you choose.
WHAT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR WEDDING INVITATION
If you are writing your own invitations from scratch, this line-by-line wording template might come in handy as you fill out this piece of your wedding stationery. It outlines what information should appear, and in what order, on a traditional wedding invite. Once you understand the various components of the invitation wording, feel free to get creative with your own personal touches and style, using the language that feels right for you and your partner.
The first line of the wedding invitation is where you list who’s hosting the wedding (a.k.a. who is paying for the wedding). Traditionally, this was usually the bride’s parents, so listing their names on the host line was a way of acknowledging that generosity. These days, however, more and more couples are either paying for the wedding themselves (in this case, you can omit the host line entirely) or receiving financial contributions from parents on both sides—in this case, you can list all parents’ names or opt for something simpler like, “Together with their parents” or “Together with their families.”
The most important thing to keep in mind that the host line is to word it in a way that feels comfortable to you both as a couple. Here are a few rules to help you figure out the best host-line wording for your family dynamics:
- The word “and” in-between two names traditionally imply that those people are married.
- If your 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.
- Hosts who are not married should be on separate lines.
- Names should not be listed in order of who paid more.
- 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 serve as a host. A common way to honour a deceased parent is alongside a member of the couple’s name as “Olivia French, daughter of Susan French,” or “Olivia French, daughter of Michael French and the late Susan French.”
The request line is where you invite people to attend your wedding (a.k.a. “Please come!”), so use this section to set the tone for your celebration. If your wedding is formal, use more formal language to reflect the occasion (e.g., “request the honour of your presence…”); if your wedding is casual, use less formal language (e.g., “Would love for you to join them…” or “Want you to come party with us…”). Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- “The honour of your presence” is traditionally used to denote a religious service. Some couples opt to spell “honour” using the British spelling; both are correct but spelling it with a “u” evokes a more formal and traditional feel. (Note: If you’re using “honour” on the invitation, we recommend matching it with “favour” as in “favour of your reply” on the RSVP card.)
- “The pleasure of your company” (or variations on this) is used to denote a non-religious ceremony locale.
Here, you’re outlining what you are inviting people to share in. Some examples:
- Traditionally, with the bride’s parent’s hosting, this line is usually something like, “At the marriage of their daughter.”
- If both parents are hosting, the line might read “At the marriage of their children.”
- If you’re hosting yourselves, the line could be something like “At the celebration of their union” or “As they tie the knot.”
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.
When writing their own names, same-sex couples can choose to either go in alphabetical order or simply with what sounds better.
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.
- Traditionally, the date and time should be spelled out in full. For example, if your ceremony is on September 15, 2021, at 4:30 p.m., the wording should read, “Saturday, the fifteenth of September, two thousand twenty-one, at half after four in the afternoon.”
- The day of the week and the month should be capitalized. The year should be lowercase.
- There is no “and” when spelling out the year.
- Time of day should be spelled out as “four o’clock” or “half after four o’clock.” Note that “half after” is the most traditional way to indicate time. However, less formal invitations can use “half-past four o’clock” or “four-thirty.”
- Traditionally, there is no need to add phrases such as “in the afternoon” or “in the evening” unless the event takes place at times like 8, 9 or 10. You should then designate “in the morning” or “in the evening” for clarity. However, some stationery designers add these phrases to fill out a line to improve the overall look of the invite design. This is totally up to you and your designer.
- The evening begins at five o’clock. Otherwise, it is considered the afternoon from noon until four o’clock.
- It’s important to note that this formal date and time rules are frequently broken in more modern invitation designs, where the date and time are listed using numerals; using numerals is also preferred for more informal weddings.
To learn more, check out our post on What is a traditional wedding invitation?
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.
- List the ceremony venue as follows: “Venue Name” on one line with “City, State” on the following line; for formal weddings, the state name is usually spelled out (instead of abbreviations).
- The venue’s street address is traditionally not included (although you may decide to list it) unless it is a private residence.
- Zipcodes are not usually included.
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.
This line lets your guests know what’s happening after the ceremony, so they know what to expect.
- If the reception is at the same location as the ceremony, you can simply say, “Reception to follow” or “Dinner and dancing to follow.”
- If the reception is at a different location, you can list the venue on the following line, or you may decide to include a separate insert card (called a reception card) inviting guests to the reception, with the venue’s full address.
- If you’re not serving a full meal, this would be a great place to let guests know by saying something like, “Cake, punch, and merriment to follow” or “Join us after the ceremony for cocktails, hors d ‘oeuvres, and dancing.”
- You can also use this line to get creative and set the tone for the reception with something like, “Join us for an intimate dinner following…” or “Drinks, dancing, and shenanigans to follow.”
Dress code: Including a line about the wedding’s dress code is optional but can be helpful for guests; however, if your wedding is black tie, you must include that on the invitation. If you don’t include dress code information on the invitation, then guests will infer attire details based on the formality of the wedding invitation itself (i.e., if the invitation is very fancy, guests will likely anticipate a formal affair). The dress code line should be listed on a line following the reception location.
Set out whether there’s a dress code: black tie, semi-formal, cocktail attire, summer suits, etc. You can also specify (or simply leave this information off) if there’s no dress code.
Wedding website: Typically you don’t print your wedding website on the wedding invitation; rather, you should list it on one of the accompanying cards (like a reception card or additional information card). It’s also a good idea to have already printed your wedding website URL on your save the date card.
You can add the URL of your wedding website or the hashtag you want guests to use when they share photos from your special day. (A wedding website is particularly useful for destination weddings – it enables you to share detailed travel info, such as the closest airport and affordable, nearby hotels.)
Social media preferences: If you’d prefer guests not to snap and share during your ceremony or even your entire wedding, you can kindly let them know. For example: ‘Please keep snaps under wraps until we’ve posted our first photo to Facebook.”
A line to specify that yours is an adult-only or child-free wedding. This could be, “Please note that this invitation is extended to adults only”, or for a casual or informal invitation, “In order to allow all guests, including parents, an evening of relaxation we have chosen for our wedding day to be an adult-only occasion. We hope this advance notice means you are still able to share our big day and will enjoy having the evening off!” If children are invited to the ceremony, but not the reception, you can specify, “Wedding ceremony followed by adult-only reception.”
Transport info: If you’re putting on a coach or other form of transportation for your guests, tell them exactly when and where they need to get picked up/dropped off.
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.
Brides today generally include paper, envelope, and stamp to encourage guests to respond to their invitation in a timely manner, even though traditional etiquette doesn’t actually call for them. It’s not rude to omit these, but it might be risky.
R.S.V.P. Line on the Invitation: It goes in the lower-left corner; you can also include mailing address, phone number, email address, or website.
On a Separate Card: A traditional fill-in-the-blank version provides the first letter of Mr. or Mrs.; or try a single line, such as “Please let us know whether you will join us,” with space for writing.
Wedding Invitation Wording Etiquette
Wedding invitations, and how they are worded, are a topic that makes people nervous. What if you accidentally misspell a word, or leave out critical info? Or, worse yet, what if you don’t know the proper “rules” and end up committing a social faux pas? Never fear—we’ve put together a list of wedding invitation wording etiquette that will help you craft perfectly on-point invitations.
Note: We realize that every wedding is unique. You will have to decide as a couple what type of language feels right for your specific style. These etiquette “rules” are more suggestions for the most traditional and formal invitation wording. If you are having an informal wedding, and/or prefer a more modern approach to your invitation design, then do whatever works for you and your style.
Every year, couples push the boundaries of what can be included in a wedding invitation, we’ve seen lots of fun and original invitations among our real weddings. Check out the biggest stationery trends and our latest paper-inspired features for lots of ideas for making your wedding invitations 100% your own.