Sunday, June 9, 2013

You're invited.

There are 132 days until our wedding. That's 4 months, 1 week, and 4 days...but who's counting? :) That being said, it is time to start thinking about invitations.

According to Emily Post, "your invitation is the first important indication to your guests of the style and tone of your wedding, as it reflects the degree of formality of the celebration." Emily Post suggests a timeline of addressing the invitations no later than two months before the wedding and mailing them out six to eight weeks before the wedding date. Therefore, you should count backward from your mailing date.

Invitations are such a broad and lengthy topic that I have decided to just compile a few lists of general etiquette by topic. As always, it is your wedding and you are the one that ultimately decides whether you want to follow traditional etiquette or not. You should do whatever is comfortable for you.

Invitation Wording

  • The invitation to a wedding ceremony in a house of worship reads "Mr. and Mrs. ______ request the honour of your presence..." Note that the traditional spelling of "honour" is used, and this should be consistently used for other words including "favour."
  • The invitation to a reception or a wedding ceremony not in a house of worship reads "Mr. and Mrs. ______ request the pleasure of your company..."
  • No punctuation is used except for abbreviations such as "Mr." and "Mrs." 
  • Numbers are spelled out, though long numbers in a street address may be written in numerals (i.e., "the twenty-seventh of August" and "1234 Sycamore Street."
  • Half hours are written as "half after" and not "half past" (i.e., "half after four o'clock").
  • The invitation to the wedding ceremony alone does not include an RSVP.
  • The most common traditional wording used today for a formal wedding given by the bride's parents reads:
Mr. and Mrs. Earl Grover
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Katherine Anne
Mr. Michael Bryant Matthews
Saturday, the fourteenth of September
at half after four o'clock
Village Chapel
Richmond, Virginia

Reception Cards
  • Reception cards are generally enclosed when the ceremony and reception are held at different locations. 
  • The reception invitation is generally where one puts the RSVP information. "RSVP," "R.S.V.P.," "R.s.v.p.," and "The favour of a reply is requested" are equally correct. 
  • The most commonly used wording is:
immediately following the ceremony
Crest Country Club
Pine Forest

The favour of a reply is requested

There are a number of different ways to begin an invitation, as weddings are no longer always hosted by the bride's parents. Here are a few examples:
  • When the bride has one living parent -- when either the bride's mother or the bride's father is deceased, the invitation is issued only in the name of the living parent (i.e., "Mr. Daniel Watson Driskill" or "Mrs. Daniel Watson Driskill.")
  • When the bride's mother is divorced and hosting the wedding -- the mother will use her first and last name (i.e., "Mrs. Mabel Johnson").
  • When divorced parents are giving the wedding together -- the bride's mother's name appears first:
Mr. and Mrs. Michelle Walker
Mr. Richard Smith
request the honour of your presence
  • When the bride and groom issue their own invitation, an invitation is commonly worded as follows:
The honour of your presence is requested at the marriage of
Miss Emily Russell
Mr. Jesse Grace


Miss Emily Russell
Mr. Jesse Grace
request the honour of your presence
at their marriage

There are so many other combinations of families and hosts that I can only suggest you take a look at Chapter 7 of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette by Peggy Post. It seems to cover all possible combinations including step-parents, professional titles, military titles, double weddings, same-sex unions, etc.

  • Formal third-person invitations are traditionally inserted into two envelopes, an inner envelope and an outer envelope. The outer envelope is the one that is addressed and stamped, and the inner envelope includes only the names of the guests. This serves the useful purpose of permitting the bride and groom to be very specific as to who is invited.
  • If a bride and groom are inviting a friend and want him/her to bring a guest (whose name they don't know), the outer envelope is addressed to the friend while the inner envelope reads "Miss Crawford and Guest." If the inner envelope reads only "Miss Crawford" then this indicates that Miss Crawford is not supposed to bring a guest.
  • An inner envelope is not required, and it is appropriate to eliminate them altogether.
  • It is proper to write the names of intimate relatives and lifeline friends in informal and familial terms, so long as you refer to them the way the host (as indicated on the invitation) would refer to them (i.e., "Aunt Rachel and Uncle Thomas" or "Grandmother.")
  • Names should be written out and not abbreviated.
  • Children over the age of thirteen should, if possible, receive separate invitations. Young sisters and brothers may be sent a joint invitation addressed to "The Misses Smith" or "The Messrs. Jones" on the outer envelope, with "Andrew, Robert, and Pierce" for example, written on the inner envelope. If children do not receive a separate invitation, their names may be written on a line below their parents' names on the inner envelope and do not need to be listed on the outer envelope.
Addressing Envelopes
  • To a married couple -- the invitation is addressed to both members of a married couple, even though the bride may know only one of them.
  • To an unmarried couple living together -- these should be addressed to "Ms. Faye Fellows" and "Mr. Scott Wilson" with each name appearing on a separate line.
  • To a married female doctor/two married doctors -- if the woman uses her husband's name socially, the address is "Dr. Barbara and Mr. James Werner." If she uses her maiden name both professionally and socially, it is "Dr. Barbara Hanson and Mr. James Werner." If the husband is also a doctor, the address is either "The Drs. Werner" or "Drs. Barbara and Robert Werner."
Stuffing Envelopes
  • When two envelopes are used, the invitation (folded edge first for a folded invitation, left edge for a single card) and all enclosures are put in the inner envelope, facing the back. Enclosures are put from largest (on bottom) to smallest (on top) with the response card usually placed directly on top of the wedding invitation (tucked under the flap of its stamped and addressed envelope.)
  • The inner envelope is placed unsealed in the outer envelope, with the flap away from the person inserting it.
  • If you are using tissue paper, it is placed on top of the invitation and the enclosures are then placed on top of that.

  • Order extras. You will want to account for the occasional ink smear, mis-spelled name, etc. You will also want to order extras for yourself as keepsakes.
  • Consider where you want your responses sent. Usually gifts are also sent to the return address on the envelope. You will also want to consider who is keeping track of responses. Ask yourself if it is easier to ship responses or gifts back and forth.
  • Don't include registry or gift information. Although traditionally a wedding invitation demands a gift in return, it is in poor taste to insert a "helpful" list of places where the bride and groom are registered. This information can be shared with parents and attendants who can be useful resources for guests who care to know.
  • Don't include the following words/phrases: "No gifts" or "No children." Again, if no gifts are wanted, this information can be shared with your guests via parents and attendants. It will be indicated to the guest whether their children are invited or not by the names written on the (inner) envelope.
  • Don't dicate dress. It is incorrect to put "Black Tie" on the invitation to the ceremony. If it seems essential to include this directive, it can be added only to the invitation to the reception and is placed in the lower-right-hand corner.
  • Don't offend your guests. Inviting people at the last minute makes it obvious that they are last-minute invitees.
There are so many different points of etiquette to consider when it comes to invitations. If you are a stickler when it comes to etiquette, I recommend Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette by Peggy Post. Some other great resources include: Calligraphy by Cami, Crane & Co., Real Simple, The Knot, Bridal Guide, and Martha Stewart Weddings. Hope this helps while you're stuffing those envelopes!

the Bride


  1. Recently went to a traditional wedding with amazing calligraphy on envelopes and no return card. Instead they included a reception invitation and address of bride's parents for us to mail a formal acceptance to.

  2. That's great. I love the idea of saving money on postage and paper and envelopes. :)

  3. That's great. I love the idea of saving money on postage and paper and envelopes. :)