SIMPLE GUIDE TO WEDDING INVITATION WORDING

While selecting a wedding stationery design can be one of the most exciting experiences of wedding planning, there’s one task that tends to stump even the savviest of my clients: nailing down the wedding invitation wording. It doesn’t need to be challenging, however! Here is a simple guide to help couples decide how to approach their wedding invitation wording.

Why is it so challenging? 

Wedding invitations are a well-loved carryover of our society’s previous mail-centric culture. While it was once customary for average people to know the etiquette surrounding all types of social mail, many of us our now left scratching our heads. Some couples may know the general guidelines (or where to find them) but are stuck between formal and informal language. To add a layer of complication, a wedding invitation once to came to guests from the hosts directly--traditionally, the parents of the bride. In our current culture, wedding budgets are often built by a variety of contributing parties. Even if one partner's family foots the entire bill, the couple may want to honor both sets of parents (or blended families, even!).

 Photo: Amanda Hedgepeth

Photo: Amanda Hedgepeth

GENERAL RULES OF THUMB:

Basics

  • It’s important to note that invitation is typically comprised of the following pieces: a formal invitation card, and RSVP card and envelope, and usually at least one smaller enclosure card for details. Before wedding websites, it was common for there to be an enclosure card PER topic: one for the reception, one for the directions, one for the accommodations, and so on. While that tradition still lingers a bit, it’s much more common for couples to condense the majority of details to one main details card (or more, if needed). 

How formal do you want to be?

  • The couple should make the decision that best fits the spirit and feel of the wedding. While some couples want to err on the side of tradition, others do not—and that’s perfectly okay. 
  • If you’re having an intimate beach wedding with 30 guests, an informal invitation makes sense for your day. If you’re having a sit-down dinner at a fancy hotel, a more formal invitation makes more sense. The invitation should help set the tone for the day and help your guests understand what to expect (which leads to their comfort once there!). 

Who is hosting?

  • In introductory lines, the phrase “<Host> requests the honour of your presence” is used for a wedding that takes place in a house of worship, while “<Host> requests the pleasure of your company” for a ceremony that takes place in any place other than a house of worship.
  • On that note, the British spelling of “honour” is typically used in the most formal invitation wordings—but if that doesn’t feel resonant for your wedding, use “honor.”
  • If there are many contributors to the wedding budget, or if the couple is hosting the wedding themselves, it’s appropriate to use “Together with their families, Jane Anne Smith and Michael John Tyler invite you to the celebration of their marriage…” instead.

Logistical Details

  • Typically, the invitation includes the date, time, and location for the ceremony only. If the reception will take place at the same location as the ceremony, we simply add “Reception to follow” at the bottom of the card. If there’s a separate reception location, it’s almost always helpful to note this on a separate reception or details card so that there’s plenty of space for the full address and any relevant info that pertains to the reception only (parking, etc.) 
  • Do you really need to have an RSVP card? While each couple should make the decision that works best for them, most stationers recommend leaving any RSVP or website information off the formal invitation itself and including a separate RSVP card with the information listed. Whether your guests are replying by mail or by website, this separate card draws your guests’ attention to the action item that you expect them to take.
  • Other information that may appear on a details card: Parking, shuttles, transportation, welcome or send-off events that apply to the entire body of invited guests, hotel block info, website URL, etc.
  • Most etiquette guidance discourages mentioning registry information anywhere on the invitation. These days, it’s helpful to include a website with links to a registry and let the information spread via word-of-mouth for your less than tech-savvy guests. If you choose to include registry information on the invitation itself, a separate enclosure card should be used.
 Photo: Monica Burgess

Photo: Monica Burgess

SAMPLE WORDING 

Below, you’ll find a variety of sample wedding wordings to support you. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list by any means, and special thanks to the Emily Post Advice resources for some of these example formats. 

  • Bride’s parents are hosting
  • Wedding is happening in a place of worship
  • Reception is offsite; details found on a different card

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith 

request the honour of your presence

at the wedding of their daughter

Anne Marie Smith 

to 

Mark Andrew Jones

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

Saint Stephen’s Presbyterian Church

Wilmington, Delaware

(Reception note excluded, as reception is offsite)

 

  • Bride’s parents are hosting; married but share different last names.
  • Wedding is happening in a place of worship
  • Reception is offsite; details found on a different card

Mr. John Smith and Ms. Theresa Walker 

request the honour of your presence

at the wedding of their daughter

Anne Marie Smith 

to 

Mark Andrew Jones

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

Saint Stephen’s Presbyterian Church

Wilmington, Delaware

(Reception note excluded, as reception is offsite)

  • Bride’s parents are hosting
  • Wedding is not happening at a place of worship
  • Reception is in the same location

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith 

request the pleasure of your company

at the wedding of their daughter

Anne Marie Smith 

to 

Mark Andrew Jones

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

The Wilmington Garden Inn

Wilmington, Delaware

Dinner and dancing to follow

  • Couple's parents are hosting together
  • Wedding is not happening at a place of worship
  • Reception is in the same location

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and

Mr. and Mrs. Steven Jones

request the pleasure of your company 

at the wedding of their children

Anne Marie 

and

Mark Andrew

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

The Wilmington Garden Inn

Wilmington, Delaware

Dinner and dancing to follow

  • Couple and their parents are hosting
  • Wedding is not happening at a place of worship
  • Reception is in the same location

Together with their families

Anne Marie Smith 

and

Mark Andrew Jones

request the pleasure of your company at the celebration of their marriage

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock 

The Wilmington Garden Inn 

Wilmington, North Carolina

  • Bride’s parents, who are divorced and remarried, host the wedding together
  • Wedding is at a house of worship

Mr. and Mrs. John Carter and

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Owens

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Susanna Jane Carter

and

Doctor Adam Edward Lee

Saturday, the twenty-second of March

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

Temple Beth Israel

Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Bride’s parents, who are divorced and not remarried, host the wedding together
  • Wedding is at a house of worship

Mr. Steven Watson and 

Ms. Julia Gonzalez

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Adriana Cate Watson

to

Taylor Wakefield

Saturday, the twenty-second of March

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

The Church of the Nazarene

Brentwood, Tennessee

  • Bride’s parents hosts and groom’s parents are mentioned
  • Wedding is at a house of worship

Mr. and Mrs. Brian Moore

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Theresa June

to

Mr. Brian Mitchell Wagner

son of

Captain and Mrs. Joseph Dell Wagner

Saturday, the twenty-fifth of March

two thousand nineteen

at four o’clock

Bentonville Community Church

Bentonville, Arkansas

  • Informal wedding invitation wording, couple hosts, with mention of families
  • Wedding does not take place in a house of worship

Together with their families

Amy Lachner

and

Taylor Jones 

invite you to share

the joy of their wedding day

Saturday, the tenth of July

at half after four o’clock

The Winston House

Richmond, Virginia

  • Informal wedding invitation wording, hosts ambiguous:
  • Wedding does not take place in a house of worship

Stephanie Anne Smith and

Tanner Alan Caldwell

invite you to celebrate

their marriage

Saturday, October 2, 2019

at three o’clock

The Mitchell Barn

Weston, Virginia

Reception to follow

 

 

RECAP OF MY FIRST HOLIDAY CARD SWAP

When you put something out into the universe, even if it's wholehearted, you never know what the result is going to be. I'll admit that when I announced my first-ever mail swap, after the first few days, I found myself peeking into an empty mailbox and wondering if anyone was going to participate. Mail started trickling in, and I was overjoyed. And then one day, I got to the mailbox and it was FULL of beautiful envelopes of every color. It made my heart leap. 

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A love of happy mail is one of the reasons I have a business in the first place. During invitation consultations, I explain to my engaged couples why I love personalized mail: it makes people feel known--that someone thought of them, thought well of them, remembered them, saw them, deemed them worthy of time and delight. Now that our lives are inundated with screens, it's hard to watch snail mail go by the wayside. But the art of sending and receiving cards is not dead, friends! At the time of writing this, I received FORTY-NINE cards and letters as a part of this mail swap. It was magical. As I mentioned when I announced the swap, it was by no means a beauty contest, and that's why I wanted the prize winner to be random. 

No matter if it was messy chicken scratch or a fancy metallic calligraphy (or in some cases, wax seals and vintage stamps!), each envelope was a delight for me to open. If you participated, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking part of this experiment in postal love. To recap, you:

  • Had your love of happy mail affirmed
  • Brightened my day when I received your adorable cards and envelopes
  • Made the season more joyful
  • Received some happy mail in return (or you will soon, all of the return mail is in the post!)

As promised, there IS a winner. The winner of this swap will receive my favorite cookbook from Minimalist Baker, two lettering journals, a few extra surprises from my shop, and since the marble mug I wanted to include shattered in my shop parking lot (insert eyeroll), you'll also get a $10 Starbucks card. I want you to see all of the beauty for yourself...so the winner is announced at the very end of this post. Keep scrolling!

In sum, this was one of my favorite parts of the season. Your adorable photo cards, your beautiful lettering, your gracious and kind words, your encouragement--each day they made my world better. THANK YOU. And YOU BETTER BELIEVE that I will be doing mail swap #2 come Valentine's Day--my other favorite mail holiday!

 

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Here is the first haul, in no particular order! There were many many photo cards inside these envelopes (I loved seeing your faces!) but if the photo card is showing, that's because it's a post card! :) Look how beautiful these are! Most days I received an average of 5-6 cards at a time, with two cards being the smallest amount and ten cards being the largest amount in a single day. 

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A little more than half of the cards were from people I had never met before, while a little less than half of the cards were from my former bridal clients, workshop guests, friends, and colleagues. 

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It was fun to receive a variety of envelope styles--the most common size was the 5x7 A7 envelope, with a few variations--long and skinny and teensy-tiny. I loved the smaller 4Bar RSVP-sized envelopes so much that I might just make my Christmas cards tiny next year. 

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The teal-colored square envelope was one of the first cards I received, and I loved Lauren's use of stickers! It makes me sad that I sold nearly all of my stickers and embellishments at my Dave Ramsey garage sale. :) 

I also wanted to recognize that there were many, many card entires that were made by fellow stationers, designers, and calligraphers, and as best as I can, I want to call those folks out because I know that a TON of work goes into crafting your own stationery, especially when it's your business and you have so many other people counting on you to do theirs. 

Here are some that I identified as handmade, and I'm super, super sorry if I missed you!

The cards above are from Aqua and Opal Studio, Kimberly Wong, and The Handletter Shop

The cards above were designed by Neon Moon Design, Honey Brush Design, and Bridgett Lynette

The cards above were from Marian Lovelace, Oh My Designs by Steph, and Bekah Wright Designs

The cards above were from Elisabeth Randall and Kelsey Logsdon

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There you have it! A big, beautiful pile of mail--a stack so tall that it crumbled into a waterfall almost immediately. If you participated in this swap, thank you from the bottom of my paper-loving heart for making me feel like I hit the lottery every single day for the last two weeks. It means the world that you would spend your time, talent, and energy swapping mail with me. And now that you have my mailing address, happy mail is always welcome!

And drumroll please...we have a winner. While the original plan was for my shop-mate Merritt to draw the winner, it's now 10:30pm the Friday before Christmas, so my husband got to be the one to randomly draw a winner. He closed his eyes and chose the beautiful red envelope from KATE EDWARDS from Little Rock, Arkansas. You, friend, and your adorable puppy Oscar and glorious double-thick photo card, are the winners. I'll pop your box of treats in the mail as soon as Christmas coziness is over!

Merry Christmas to the best community ever, and cheers to full mailboxes all over the world! 

Love, Alex

JOIN OUR HOLIDAY CARD SWAP!

It's no secret that around here, we LOVE mail. Mail is my love language and a love of happy mail is at the center of everything I do. Every time I see a non-bill/non-catalog mail piece in my mailbox, I feel so delighted that someone remembered me. Over the years, I've participated in mail swaps with Heather from Design Roots and Bailey from Antiquaria, and getting mail back from both of them lit my heart up! (I still have my beautiful envelopes from them both). So it's only natural that it's now time to host my very own mail swap. Read on for the details--it's easy, fast, and nearly free.

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In celebration of our 4th birthday, I hosted an Instagram Live and shared a link for people to sign up for happy mail. I had to cut off the entries at 50 for sheer time's sake, but it was SO FUN to create little works of art to bless people's mailboxes. We're keeping the happy trail train moving. I'd love for you to participate in my first ever mail swap! Here's how it works:

1) STEP 1: Send a piece of happy mail to my shop before 12/18! That's TEN days from now!

Very simple holiday photo card from the drug store with a chicken scratch envelope? PERFECT. Fanciest envelope you've ever decorated with calligraphy and lettering galore? AWESOME! Letterpress with special Christmas vintage stamps? I'D LOVE THOSE! Simple happy mail or luxe happy mail--we don't discriminate around here. There's absolutely no pressure to get fancy--there's room for everyone. 

Mailing address at my studio:

Alex Bray, Prairie Letter Shop, 3230 E. 15th Street | Tulsa, OK 74104

2) STEP 2: Watch for your happy mail back from me! Make sure there's a visible name and return address on the back flap of your envelope so I can send you mail back, pretty please!

As mail arrives at my shop, I will mail YOU back one of my new holiday cards. (Again, please make sure there's a clear name and address!) If it's not too much trouble, can you please add the return address on the back flap? This will help me protect your privacy when I photograph the happy mail haul and will save a little time in not having to blur out addresses.

3) STEP 3: Keep an eye on my blog, and you may win a prize! 

I'm going to gather all of the happy mail, photograph it, put it on my blog, and let my shop mate Merritt of Merriment choose an envelope out of a bag. Whoever wins gets a prize pack including a $30 Starbucks card, a few surprises from my shop, a marble mug, a lettering journal, and some pens. I'll announce the winner and mail off the goods on 12/22. It will be a happy little after-Christmas treat for the winner. 

Remember, this is not a beauty contest (though fancy lettering and decoration is highly encouraged). The goal is to do my part to revive the art of sending snail mail (and selfishly, receive lots of fun mail in the process!)

Can't wait! Woo hoo! Let the mail roll in like thunder! :) (Can you tell I'm thrilled?)

OPTIONAL: Do you want a last-minute reminder on 12/15 to send your happy mail? I know you're busy! I don't want you to forget! Fill out this simple form and I'll nudge you to remind you!

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