Invitation wording basics


We live in a time when the wording on your wedding invitations can be as traditional or creative as you like. Just don’t forget to include the basics:

  • Your name and the name of your fiancé, including last names
  • The date, location and time of the wedding
  • The location and time of the reception
  • Reply information

Yes, there are common rules but they don’t always fit every situation. Below are some common questions we get about wedding invitation wording.

Response card tip


A bride recently asked me about tracking unnamed RSVPs. “Despite the explicit instruction on the card to fill in the name of the guest, some people return that without it completed. What do you do?” My favorite modern etiquette maven Jodi R. R. Smith has a tip:

Occasionally, guests — in their excitement to reply — will for to include their name on the response card. An old hostess trick can help. Assign each guest a number on your master list at home. Then, in pencil, on the back of each response card, ever so lightly write the number that corresponds to the guest to whom that card is going. That way, if a guest forgets to include his or her name or meal preference, you have a way of knowing whose card has been returned.

You could also use the guest’s return address as a way to confirm who is responding.

Check out Jodi’s book “The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners.” It’s one of my go-to- guides.

Invitation wording: divorced parents


Etiquette is meant to be a guide to good taste and to make everyone as comfortable as possible. Wording a wedding invitation when one or both sets of parents are divorced doesn’t have to be difficult and it’s ok to stray from the accepted rules.

When the bride’s parents are divorced, her mother’s name is listed first with her father’s name on the line beneath it. Do not use “and” to separate them. (more…)

It's save-the-date season

Did you know a third of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day? That makes the early part of every year very busy as we start sending out save the dates.


Ceremony-only invitations?


Nope. Everyone who attends the ceremony (or  engagement party, bridal shower, or rehearsal dinner) should also be invited to the wedding — that means the ceremony AND the reception. Inviting guests to one and not the other basically says you want them there for the actual ceremony but you either don’t want to pay for their plate at your party or don’t care enough to have them there to actually celebrate your newly-married status.

The same goes for save the dates. Everyone who gets one of those also gets an invitation to the wedding.

Adults-only events


“How can we nicely tell our guests that their children are not invited?”

In general, weddings are grown-up events and usually run well past bed times. The basic rule is that the names of the family members that are invited are the only ones on the envelope. If children are not invited, their names are left off the envelope.


Often asked: Guest attire

“On the invitation, should we tell guests what to wear to the wedding?”

If you have a preference, yes. The invitation is about providing your guests with as much information about the event as possible. Wedding attire for everyone involved should correspond to the style and formality of the celebration. I believe ALL formal invitations should include dress instructions. This is usually included at the bottom, as the last line of the invitation itself.


Please say thank you

A half-joking question from one of my November brides about writing her thank you notes set off an interesting conversation on the Facebook page. Is it bad form to outsource writing thank you notes for your wedding gifts? Also, I’m seeing fewer thank you notes written overall. Would outsourcing this task get more of them sent? The Facebook consensus says suck it up and get to it.


Bespoke wedding paper 6.2: more wording & etiquette

Most people have no idea what goes into creating a one-of-a-kind wedding stationery ensemble. I will try to make this an interesting multi-part series about creating a bespoke stationery wardrobe from save the dates to thank you notes.
This is the second part of the etiquette mini-series. Here’s part 1.

  • Who is inviting?
  • Who’s getting married?
  • When: Date
  • When: Time
  • Where is it being held?
  • Reception to follow?
  • Attire
  • RSVP

The key is make sure guests have as much information as possible. (more…)

Bespoke wedding paper 6.1: wording & etiquette

Most people have no idea what goes into creating a one-of-a-kind wedding stationery ensemble. I will try to make this an interesting multi-part series about creating a bespoke stationery wardrobe from save the dates to thank you notes.

Wedding etiquette is one of those things that people beat theirs heads against constantly before the big day. Ultimately, it’s the couple’s wedding and their opinions about how things should be worded matter most. But why do we look to tradition is the first place? Because the old ways are often the best ways. (more…)

Often asked … thanks

“How long do I have to send out my thank you cards?”
Ideally, you would send thank you notes throughout the pre-wedding period as you receive gifts. A timely thank you is proper etiquette, so the sooner the better; however, it is never too late to be gracious. Remember to personalize the thank you note specific to the gift or include a memory from the big day.

It breaks my heart that so few people send thank you notes anymore.  That’s a no brainer: always show appreciation for the gifts you receive, preferably in a handwritten note on fine stationery. I think I wrote my first thank you note in the first grade.

Thanks, Gram!