Once you’ve gathered a list of friends and family you want in attendance at your big day, and sent out your save the dates, it’s time to think about your invitations. Because letter writing is a lost art form, it’s often difficult for modern brides and grooms to compile a well written invitation that is both formal and faux-pas free!
Not too long ago, all correspondence was written in the elegant and formal tone you often see today only on wedding invitations. Though this artistic and classy art form is near extinction, its existence on wedding stationary gives all weddings the special touch of elegance they are due. Wording an invitation can be challenging, but with a few guidelines any future Mr. and Mrs. can pen their own invitation with ease, and even add a personal flair wherever preferable.
The basic layout for a wedding invitation includes all of the rudimentary information guests will need in order to understand who is getting married, when they are tying the knot, and at what location:
- The Host and/or Hostess: Including the names of the individual(s) hosting the ceremony and reception comes first. Full names (including middle) should be used for formal invitations, but if your wedding is more informal, you may wish to use first and last names only. Mr. Mrs. and Jr. should be abbreviated, but the title of Doctor should not, and all other words should be spelled out.
- The Request Line: Here is where you invite your guests to join you! Wording can certainly vary for this line but most invitations include wording like: “request the honour of your presence” or “request the pleasure of your company” This line makes your intentions clear; you want your guests to join you on your special day!
- The Future Mr. and Mrs.: That’s you! It’s time to list your name and your fiance’s name! The bride is traditionally listed first, usually with her first and middle names if her parents are hosting the occasion. If the bride and groom are hosting, this line is not necessary, as they will be listed in the “host/hostess” line.
- When: The time and date come next. All words should be spelled out including the day of the week, date and time of day. Instead of saying 2:30pm, wording should be more formal: “half past two in the afternoon.” The day of the week, month, day and year should also be written out for formality sake. For extreme elegance, a European style date is preferred, listing the day first and then the month: “on Saturday, the Twenty-third of April Two Thousand and Eleven”
- Where: This information is important! Until you’ve decided on a venue for the ceremony and reception, it’s best to hold out on writing your invitations. The place should be listed with all words spelled out, including the full address. If the reception is at a separate location from the ceremony, the words “reception to follow at” should precede the address for your second venue, with the start time listed below.
- RSVP: The response card is the most important piece of stationary you will have to include, as it will help you to get your final head count for the wedding, a number which will become more and more important as your date gets closer. The response card should include a self addressed stamped envelope (most likely addressed to the bride) for ease in response. A blank line preceded by an “M” (which stands for either Mr. or Mrs.—your guest fills in the rest) is usually listed at the top of the card. Two options are given: will attend, or will not attend; it is common knowledge that guests should check one or the other prior to sending the RSVP back to you. Most response cards also include the food options for the reception. All response cards should include the date by which guests should mail back the card (at least 2 weeks before your big day).
- Other Information: If you have other important information you would like your guests to know, such as a black tie event, or a no children policy, it is proper to include this as a one line phrase at the end of the invitation.
- Example: For an example of what your invitation should look like, click to enlarge the image above.
Invitations should be sent six to eight weeks before your big day in order to give your friends and family enough time to respond, and to give you enough time to compile your final head count for caterers. Sticking with the color scheme and style you’ve chosen for the big day will pull all the details together to create the perfect personal branding you’re looking for. Be sure to order at least 25% more invitations or invitation materials than the number on your list, as you may make last minute changes or some mistakes may be made in addressing the envelopes. Get all your bridesmaids together to help you address and stamp the envelopes! This is not a small task and will be easier, as well as more fun with your maids, after all, they’re there to help!
If you need additional references for wording, it wouldn’t hurt to visit your local library for books on how to pen the perfect invitation. Try Manchester City Library, Nashua Public Library, Goffstown Public Library, and Bedford Public Library to name a few. Your invitations are a representation of you and your fiance as a couple, so have fun wording them and be sure to keep one for your scrap book, you’ve put a lot of effort into creating them!