When we are meeting with a bride, and get to the point of writing down the wording for her wedding invitation, it is a time when everything gets real! The special moment is often accompanied by “I can’t believe this is really happening!” But it’s also a time where a lot of questions pop up.
The most important information that the invitation needs to communicate are when and where. And if your invitation design is a little more modern, your wording may differ. But in general, there are some rules to guide you.
As always, our go-to reference is The Wedding Blue Book by Crane & Co. Below are the elements of a traditional wedding invitation and the answers to a couple of our most common questions.
Traditionally the parents of the bride host the wedding and issue the invitation. In that case, the invitation will begin with:
Mr. and Mrs. John William Doe
If the parents of the bride are divorced, both sets of parents are listed, with the mother’s name coming first. The names are not joined by the word “and”:
Ms. Jane Elizabeth Doe
Mr. John William Doe
“and” is reserved for if the parents have different last names but are married. If that is the case, the mother’s name is still listed first, but her name is joined with her husband’s by “and”:
Mrs. Jane Elizabeth Smith
and Mr. John William Doe
If the father is a senior or a junior, the most formal etiquette dictates to write out the word “junior” or “senior” in all lowercase letters. It is preceded by a comma. If the father’s name is particularly long, or he wishes to use an abbreviation, the first letter is capitalized, followed by a lower case “r” and the period. Use of the abbreviation, or a roman numeral (II or III) is also always preceded by a comma.
Mr. and Mrs. John William Doe, junior
Mr. and Mrs. John William Doe, Jr.
For various reasons, a couple may prefer to issue the invitations themselves. If that is the case “Together with their families” is acceptable.
For Jewish families issuing an invitation, the word “and” is used between the bride and groom instead of “to”. Additionally, the groom’s parents names are listed below that of their son. This tradition stems from the belief that the wedding ceremony represents the joining of two families.
request the honour of your presence
request the pleasure of your company
These are the two most common phrases used to request the attendance at the wedding. Both options are equally as formal, but used under different circumstances. Weddings held in a church, synagogue, or other house of worship use “honour of your presence” while ceremonies held in other locations use “pleasure of your company”.
honour vs. honor
This a personal preference, but many brides opt for the traditional English spelling. It can feel a little more formal. The most important thing, though, is to stay consistent. So on the response card you would opt for favour if necessary.
List the day, date and month spelled out. Originally, the year was written out in all lower case letters, so you may see that occasionally. Today, it is usually preferred to capitalize the first letter of the year while spelling it out.
Saturday, the second of June
Two thousand eighteen
The time comes next, preceded by “at”. On formal invitations, the time is spelled out. It is optional to include the time of day. But if you do include the time of day, you should adhere to the following rules: before noon, is “in the morning”, between noon-5:30 pm use “in the afternoon”, and for ceremonies taking place between 6:00 p.m. and midnight, one would use “in the evening”.
at five o’clock in the afternoon
It was once considered good luck to marry on the half hour. If that is the case, the phrase “half after” is used and not half past.
at half after five o’clock
Location and Address
List the full name of the location for the wedding ceremony next. Although the city and state is always included, the street address is optional. If there are more than one building or public spaces with the same name, it may be helpful for your guests. Sometimes space dictates this decision. The zip code is not included.
Saint Mary’s Chapel
Raleigh, North Carolina
If desired, reception information can be included on the bottom of the invitation. Attire requests can also be listed in the bottom right hand corner of the invitation.
Reception to follow
Our custom invitation specialists are here to answer all of your questions. And when in doubt, pick up a copy of the The Wedding Blue Book! We don’t hesitate to grab it when needed!