A New Way to Think About Wedding Invitation Wording

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Robert and I recently sent the invitation wording to the company designing our invitations, and I was surprised about the amount of thought I put into the wording! I suspect I’m not alone. So I’ve put together a cheat sheet that explains wedding invitation wording etiquette and when to break from it.

What’s the rule for including parents’ names on wedding invitations?

Traditionally, you include whomever is hosting the wedding on your invitation. The host is typically the person paying for the wedding. In the past, this was always the bride’s parents. But if any set of parents is contributing substantially to the wedding, it’s a nice gesture to include their names on the invitation —  and completely acceptable to include both sets of parents. If you’re afraid the invitation will look crowded, you can include you and your betrothed’s name and then the phrase “together with their parents” to cover all the bases.

My parents have been pretty amazing throughout the wedding planning process, so we wanted to recognize them and included them by name on the invitation.

What’s correct: “the pleasure of your company” or “the honor (or honour) of your presence”?

Requesting “the honor of your presence” is the proper wording for a religious event, such as a wedding ceremony. “The pleasure of your company” is wording for a social event, such as a reception. It used to be more common to invite guests to one and not the other, which is why there’s a distinction. Traditionally Americans use the British spelling of “honour” instead of “honor” on invitations, probably because it feels more formal than American English. “Honour” feels a like an affectation to me, so my preference is “honor.” In my opinion, if you’re American, go ahead and own it.

Robert and opted for “invite you to the wedding of” instead of any of the above. Our wedding is so casual that the typical wording didn’t feel right.

Do you include p.m. or a.m. for the time  — or neither?

You only need to include this if you suspect there could be confusion about the actual start time. If you’re having a 5 p.m. wedding, no one is going to accidentally show up at 5 a.m. In fact, the time of day is usually specified by saying “in the evening,” etc. That said, there’s no harm in opting for a.m. or p.m.

As for the spelling of these abbreviations, different style manuals recommend different approaches. Lowercase with periods, such as p.m., is most frequently cited as correct, but uppercase without periods is growing in acceptance, a la PM. What’s more important is being consistent throughout your invite.

Also, you typically spell out the time, such as “four o’clock,” but Robert and I ignored this as well. Again, it seemed too formal and we were dealing with space constraints on our invitation.

Do you include the address of your wedding venue on your invitation?

This is optional. People rarely included it in the past, but this was likely because nearly all the guests were local, so they knew the location and how to get there. Also, the preference for wedding invitations is for them to look very clean with as few words as possible.

These days, you could always put the address on the wedding website instead of the invitation. However, Robert and I opted to put the address on our invitations because there’s another very popular wedding venue with a similar name within the city and we wanted to make sure our guests didn’t get confused.

Should you include registry information on your invitation?

In short, no. This has always been a no-no. And now that wedding websites exist, there’s no need to worry about getting this information out. I recommend adhering to this rule because doing otherwise could really rub people the wrong way.

Should you include your wedding website on your wedding invitation?

Traditionally, no, not on the wedding invitation, but it’s acceptable on the response cards.

Robert and I ignored this too. (Evidently, we’re more rebellious than I realized.) We’re forgoing response cards because it would nearly double what we spend on invitations, so we saw this as an opportunity to save a little. We are pointing guests to our wedding website to RSVP. Again, this tends to be easier to pull off if both your invitation and your wedding are on the casual side.

What’s the proper RSVP wording?

Traditionally, you write “A favour of a reply is requested by [date].” Again, I prefer “favor” over “favour.” But not surprisingly, Robert and I skipped this more formal wording in favor of: “Please RSVP by [date].” As for the abbreviation “RSVP,” according to Emily Post, it can be “RSVP,” “R.s.v.p.” or “R.S.V.P.”

How do I express children aren’t invited to our wedding?

Check out my whole post dedicated to the subject of gently asking guests to leave their children at home.

As you can see, Robert and I ended up breaking tradition for the most part, but I found it helpful to know and understand the tradition before we made our choices.

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Photo courtesy Ruff Housemore of their designs here

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