The Ultimate Guide to Invitation Wording

Etiquette
guide to wedding invitation wording

Photo: Diane Fields

Don't be intimidated by invitation wording etiquette — the rules are actually much simpler and straightforward than you think. And in most cases, there's more than one way to do it, so feel free to riff off these wording rules to create your own. To help guide you, we're breaking down what each line means and what it typically includes.

Section 1: The Host Line
Traditionally, the bride's parents are the hosts of the wedding, and are named at the top of the invitation, even for very formal affairs. However, including the names of both sets of parents as hosts is a gracious option no matter who foots the bill. Also, more and more couples these days are hosting their own weddings, or do so together with their parents. So, here are a few host line examples:

When the bride's parents host the wedding:
Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Thomas Chrzanowski
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter, Colleen Marie
to
Ryan Michael Cronin
Saturday, the twenty-third of May
at four o'clock
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church
New York, New York

When the groom's parents are included on the invitation:
Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Thomas Chrzanowski
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter,
Colleen Marie
to
Ryan Michael Cronin,
son of
Mr. and Mrs. Jason Rigby Cronin
Saturday, the twenty-third of May

or

Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Thomas Chrzanowski
and
Mr. and Mrs. Jason Rigby Cronin
request the pleasure of your company
at the wedding reception of their children,
Colleen Marie and Ryan Michael
Saturday, the twenty-third of May

When the bride's divorced parents are both listed on the invitation (in general, the invite is sent by the parent who raised her):
Diane Jean Chrzanowski (or Mrs. Robert Cheney, if remarried)
and
Daniel Thomas Chrzanowski (or Mr. Daniel Thomas Chrzanowski)
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter,
Colleen Marie to
Ryan Michael Cronin

When the couple would like to host the event themselves:
The honour of your presence
is requested at the marriage of
Miss Colleen Marie Chrzanowski
to
Mr. Ryan Michael Cronin
Saturday, the twenty-third of May

When the couple would like to include their families (divorced or married) and host their own wedding:
Colleen Marie Chrzanowski and Ryan Michael Cronin
together with their parents
request the pleasure of your company at their wedding

Section 2: The Request Line
"honour of your presence": "honour" spelled British-style with a "u" indicates a ceremony in a house of worship.
"the pleasure of your company": indicates the ceremony is taking place outside a place of worship.
"at the marriage of their children:" indicates both sets of the couple's parents are hosting.

Section 3: Bride and Groom Lines
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.

Section 4: Date and Time Lines
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.

Section 4: Location Lines
The street address 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 are written out in full.

Section 5: Reception Lines
Very formal invitations include this information on a separate card. Otherwise, it can be printed on the invitation if there is room; if the ceremony and reception are held in the same location, you may print "and afterward at the reception" or "reception immediately following." When the reception is elsewhere, the location goes on a different line. Include the time if not immediately following the ceremony.

Section 6: RSVP Lines
Most couples these days choose to include a separate response card for guests to fill out and return in the mail. For more informal celebrations, some couples skip the separate response card and ask guests to reply electronically via the couple's website, printed on the bottom of the invitation.

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