The wedding invitations are one of the most import stages of the preparations for the wedding day. They set the tone of the day and give your guests their first indication of the style and theme. They tell them when and where the wedding will be held and how formal it will be. For your guests the wedding invitations are the most important part in the lead up to your wedding. The importance of the wedding invitations or wedding stationery cannot be understated and getting the wedding stationery wording correct is crucial.
It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, confused, or even unsure about which traditions to follow when selecting the layout and wording of your wedding invitations. Traditional invitation wording and etiquette serves only as a guide or a starting point. Your wedding stationery should capture your individual characters and convey the tone in which you wish to express your wedding day. There is no right or wrong.
Typically, a wedding invitation is divided into four distinct sections, i.e. the hosts, the guests, the date, time and location of the ceremony and reception. This article examines each of the sections contained in a standard wedding invitation and offers some guidance to the reader.
1. The hosts of the wedding
The hosts of the wedding can be the bride’s parents, the bride and groom, or the parents of both the bride and groom. It was tradition that the brides parents hosted the wedding, however nowadays the majority of couples host the wedding themselves often with the assistance of both sets of parents. There are a variety of different wording options depending on who is hosting. The following suggestions are offered as guidance.
If the Bride and Groom are hosting the wedding themselves, one of the following wording options maybe considered:
The honour of your presence is request at the marriage of…
Anne Smith and John James request the honour of your presence at their marriage…
Anne Smith and John James together with their families/parents wish to invite you, to join them on the occasion of their marriage…
Together with their families/parents Anne Smith and John James request the honour of your presence on the occasion of their marriage…
In the case where the bride and groom’s parents are hosting the wedding:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Mr. and Mrs. William James
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their children…
Finally if it is the bride’s parents that are hosting the wedding then the following maybe used:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Anne Smith to John James
It has always been the tradition that the bride’s name be mentioned first on the wedding invitation. This maybe explained by the fact that traditionally the bride’s parents paid for the wedding. It is not uncommon nowadays for the groom’s name to be mentioned first. Ultimately this is a personal choice and the decision of which name appears first resides with the bride and groom.
2. Addressing the guests – using their correct titles.
Addressing the wedding guests with their correct titles displays thought, consideration and respect. In today’s world a multitude of different titles exist which makes this task all the more difficult. The best course of action is to use common sense and be consistent, however it is not as simple as using Mr and Mrs on your wedding invitations. Some of your invitee’s may have different title’s. When addressing a husband and wife who share the same last name the norm is to use Mr and Mrs i.e. Mr and Mrs John Owens. Likewise if they don’t share the same last name, the norm is to address them as Mr John Owens and Mrs Sinead Flynn. If either of these guests is a Doctor then simply substitute Dr for Mr/Mrs. Separated or divorced couples should receive separate invitations and if they have a new partner, then the norm is to include this partners name. In the case of gay and lesbian couples the same rules apply but you should name the partners in alphabetical order. Finally, when inviting a single person who will be bringing a date it is appropriate to include “plus one” after their name.
3. Date, time and location
Traditionally on formal wedding invitations the numbers and time were spelled out e.g. “The fifteenth of April two thousand and fourteen at one thirty in the afternoon”. The design of your wedding theme will dictate whether the numbers in the date and time are spelled out or left in numeric form. With modern wedding invitations the latter is becoming the norm. The location of the wedding ceremony follows the date and can appear before the time. The reception location then follows. An example of typical date, time and location layouts could be:
St Oliver Plunket Church, Boora, Co. Offaly at 1:30 in the afternoon
Celebrations to follow at Dooley’s hotel Birr.
To be held at two thirty in the afternoon of Sunday the twelfth of January two thousand and fourteen at St. Finnian’s Church, Kinnitty, Co. Offaly
and afterwards at Kinnitty Castle for festive banquet and cheer
A typical wedding invitation is divided into the sections as outlined above, i.e. the hosts, the guests, date and time, and the locations of the ceremony and reception. It is also acceptable to include an RSVP contact number or email address on modern wedding invitations, or a separate RSVP card can be include as was traditional. If opting for the additional card ensure that the name of the guests and a stamp addressed envelope are included. An RSVP reply date of at least one month before the wedding should also be advised to your guests.
For your guests the wedding invitations are the most important part in the lead up to your wedding. The information they receive helps them decide on their outfits and allows them to make the necessary arrangements to attend. Many guests may have to travel a long distance and therefore it is appropriate to include directions and a list of accommodation. This is additional information which is not included on the wedding invitation but rather on a separate card included in the wedding stationery pack sent to the guests. The norm is to include a map and directions to both the venues for the ceremony and reception, and a list of accommodation including hotels and bed and breakfast providers.