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