Wedding Invitation Wording
There’s no shortage of etiquette rules when it comes to formal wedding invitations wording, and if you’re going all-out traditional, it’s important to get it right.
Even if you’re adding a healthy dose of personal style (which you should always do – no matter how formal your day is), understanding the basics will give you a good starting point, and you can fine-tune from there.
Here we break down the elements of formal wedding invitations and give you some tips on wording along the way.
The host / invitational line
Begin with the names of those hosting the wedding. Everyone’s situation here differs, so go with whatever suits yours best. Need some guidance? Check out our Q&A on different wording situations.
A simple way to make sure everyone feels included is to invite the guests yourselves, and mention both families.
The request line depends on the type of venue you are getting married in. For places of worship, use “Request the honour of your presence.” For a more informal ceremony, use “Would be delighted by your presence at the marriage of…” or similar wording.
For reception only requests, you can use, “Invite you to join them at the wedding reception of…”
Bride and groom line
The bride and groom’s names are on separate lines, set out from the rest of the invitation wording. The preposition between them can either be “and” (common in some Jewish formats), or “to” (common in Australian and American formats).
Spell the groom’s name out, preceded by a title (i.e. Mr. David Sheppard). If the bride shares the same last name as her parents, which are also listed on the invitation, her last name does not get repeated. Omit courtesy title here.
Time and date line
Spell out the date after the day of the week (i.e. Saturday, the twenty sixth of September). It is not necessary to include the year.
Spell out the time to describe where the hands are located on the clock (i.e. half after five o’clock). Don’t include AM or PM, but where confusion is possible, use “in the evening,” or “in the morning.”
Include an address where the wedding site is not widely known. The address should be written without punctuation. Use line breaks in place of commas (except to separate city and state). If getting married in a church, be sure to use the church’s proper name, spelling out any abbreviations.
A separate reception card should be provided when the reception and ceremony are held separately.
When they are held in the same location, you can include a line at the bottom of your invitation. As an example, you can use, “Dinner and dancing immediately following the ceremony.”
RSVP / Response card
By including an RSVP (or response) card in your invitation, you make it clear that you are expecting a formal response, and your guests will be more likely to provide you with one. Adding a stamp increases the likelihood even further, and is considered the polite thing to do.
The RSVP card can either be a single card with matching envelope or a postcard format with printing on one side, and a return address on the back.
The most traditional format is a fill-in-the-blank version, beginning with M (the first letter of Mr. or Mrs.) It should also clearly state the date by when guests need to reply (typically 3 weeks in advance of wedding). You can also ask for meal preferences on the RSVP card.
The favour of a reply is requested on or before 19 July 2014
___ Accept with pleasure
___ Decline with regrets
Please initial the entrée choice for each guest
______ Rosemary chicken
______ Atlantic grilled salmon
_______ Local vegetable ravioli
Special attire (i.e. beach formal) can be specified in the lower right corner of the wedding invitation, or on the reception card.
Registry information should not be included anywhere within your invitation, as it is considered rude. (Your wedding website is a more appropriate place to communicate this information).