Word Your Invites

Create letter-perfect invitations with these helpful tips

Know Your Type
"Your invites can completely convey the type of wedding you're planning," says Alyson Bravo, of Los Angeles-based A Papier, and the font is what typically stands out most. A funky, block type justified to one side lets guests know you're hosting a more modern wedding. Alternatively, an invitation with a scripted, slanted font that is centered on the paper translates to a traditional, formal event.

Master the Name Game
There are many ways to word your invitation, based on whose parents are hosting, and whether any have divorced and remarried. Bravo says the best way to choose wording is to ask both sides what they're thinking. "Etiquette is all about making sure everyone's feelings are taken into account," she says. When it comes to listing hosts, the bride's parents should come first, with the woman followed by her spouse (or you and then your fiancé, if you are hosting or cohosting the wedding). It's acceptable to list more than one family as hosts; simply follow the same format when listing the second set of names. An example:

Rebecca and Andrew Mills &
Susan and Michael Watts
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Maria Elizabeth
Joseph Robert
Saturday, the nineteenth of May, 2010

If your parents are divorced, they should appear each on their own line. If both sets of parents are divorced and remarried, and all are contributing, all should be listed. An example:

Elyse and Jonathan Smith &
Anne and Bruce Jacobson &
Kay and Edward Federico &
Mary and Thomas Young
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their children
Christopher Michael
Melissa Lee
Saturday, the nineteenth of May, 2010

If your fiancé's parents aren't hosting but you'd like to include them, list their names beneath his, prefaced by "son of…". Traditionally, the "honor of your presence" is stated only when the ceremony is in a house of worship; the "pleasure of your company" can be used otherwise. Choosing the European spelling "honour" lends formality, says Mackenzie Sala, owner of KenzieKate in NYC.

Clue In Guests
If your reception won't immediately follow the ceremony or is at a different location, the information typically appears on a separate card included with the invite. Directions and dress code (see below) can be included, too. If your event is adults-only, you don't need to print that—the way the invite is addressed should make it clear.

Gather Responses
"RSVP" is often used, but a nice alternative is "Kindly Respond By...". The card should be blank otherwise, so guests can add a brief note. To gather meal choices and hotel stays, you can include boxes for choices to be checked off. Mark the back of cards with a number that corresponds with each guest's name in case they forget to sign, and send invites six to eight weeks in advance, allowing one month for replies.

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