The Sweet Christian Bride

Invitations II: Finding the Words

by admin on February 21, 2013 in Invitations with 173 Comments

Are you at a loss for words with your invitations?  Let me assure you that you are not alone.  Creating the perfect wedding invitation is a precise balance of tradition, personality, family dynamics, and information all measured out by the limitations of paper size and postage.

Fortunately, it sounds more complicated than it is.  With the age-old help of wedding tradition and the practical benefits of common sense, we can whittle down the process to 6 basic points:

1)      Who is hosting

2)      Who you are

3)      What the event is

4)      When the event is

5)      Where the event is

6)      How to RSVP and the deadline to do so

All other details are gravy, as my southern in-laws would say.

If you are having a traditional or formal wedding, there is invitation etiquette that you should follow.  Having said that, however, even invitation etiquette experts are constantly disagreeing on the rules, so don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by confusing wedding legalism.

The one thing the etiquette experts do agree on, however, is that the feelings of those around you should trump the rules.  For example, if you are following the rules of how to write your parents’ names on invitation, but they are adamant about a different order of names or about using their middles names, it’s not worth it to bruise a relationship in order to please the Emily Posts of the world.

So let’s start with etiquette for these six points, knowing that ultimately, you have the power to veto or approve the rules.


Put the names of your wedding hosts at the top of the invitations, as if they are presenting you and your event.

Mr. and Mrs. Scott Tracy

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Lindsay Robin…

If you are hosting your own wedding, your names would be at the top:

Miss Lindsay Robin Tracy


Mr. Christopher Daniel Hall

request the honor of your presence…

Where it gets complicated is with parents who are divorced, remarried, or deceased.  There are many comprehensive websites that address these combinations, so you can find the help you need.  I recommend The Knot, Real Simple, Beautiful Wedding Invitations, or eleGALA.


If you are not already listed as the host, then you need to introduce who you are.  If you have the same last name as the hosts, then you traditionally do not list your last name.  The same is true for your fiancé if you are listing his parents’ names.

Unless you have a firm reason not to list both of your parents’ names, it is a very honoring detail even if they aren’t hosting because it affirms the legacy that you and your fiancé are in as you start your family together.

Mr. and Mrs. Scott Tracy

invite you to attend

the holy covenant of marriage

of their daughter

Lindsay Robin


Christopher Daniel

son of Danny and Ginger Hall


Usually the operative word here is marriage, but you can opt for wedding if you choose.  Or instead of using a noun, you can emphasize the act of marrying by using a gerund phrase such as “invite you to witness the uniting in marriage of…”

You can get creative here.  What does marriage mean to you?  Chris and I chose the phrase “joyful covenant of marriage” because as Christians, marriage is a covenant, not a contract.  And it’s not the old “ball and chain” as some of our guests believe it is.  We wanted no mistake that this was a Christian wedding and that we were nothing short of ecstatic to be choosing each other for a life time!

If your wedding is in a house of worship, the traditional wording of the invitation is “request the honour (or honor) of your presence.”  If your wedding is outside of a church, however, you are supposed to use alternate phrases such as “request your presence” or “invite you.”


For traditional or formal weddings, always write out your numerals (except in addresses and in names; if you are referring to John Smith IV, you would use Roman numerals).  For time, you usually say half past or quarter past if your wedding starts off the hour.

Saturday, the seventeenth of June,

two thousand and eleven

at half past eleven o’clock in the morning.


You can simply state the address without introducing it as “The ceremony will be held at….”  If your ceremony is at the same location, it is nice to clarify that by saying, “Reception immediately following.”

If your reception is at a different location, however, you can list that address on the invitation as well, or you can include an insert with reception information.

For all commonly abbreviated words in the address, write them our completely (the state is okay to abbreviate if you need to save space).

Calamigos Ranch

317 South Latigo Canyon Road

Malibu, California 90265

Please join us for the reception to follow

at one o’clock in the afternoon.


Many people choose to have the RSVP information off of the main invitation and instead on an insert that the guests can mail back.

Either way, make sure to include the instructions for RSVPing such as when the deadline is and whom the guests should respond to.  If you are including a pre-stamped RSVP card, then the address will already indicate whom they need to RSVP to.

Common information to include on your RSVP card is the name of each person attending and the meal choices.  If your ceremony and reception (or other wedding weekend events) are at separate locations, it is wise to allow your guests to check which events they are coming to.  Most people will come to all, but it’s always helpful to confirm that.

When you are addressing your invitations, etiquette says that the names you write out on the envelope are the names of the people you are expecting to RSVP.  If you do not include a significant other or children on your addressed envelope, then your guests are not supposed to RSVP for them.  If they do, you can call them and politely indicate that due to intimacy or formality of the wedding, you can only extend the invitation to those listed on the envelope.


Other great information to include on your invitation or in inserts is:

  • directions (although, not entirely necessary in this world of GPS)
  • registry information—whether you are asking for donations only or are receiving gifts, people want to give you something,  Make it easy on them by including your store names, URLs, and log-in information.  Check your registry periodically to make sure there are still options left for guests to purchase.
  • wedding website URL—many brides and grooms choose to have a wedding website where their guests can read about how they met, who their bridal party is, and what the extended details of the wedding weekend are.  If you do your RSVPs through the website, make sure to call the older guests who might not have Internet access and obtain their status person to person.
  • accommodation suggestions—it is a courtesy to reserve a block of rooms at some nearby hotels of varying price ranges.
  • requested attire—this is often easily discernible from the tone, location, and time of day of your wedding, but as a guest, I always appreciate knowing what the bride and groom are expecting.  Just please don’t say black-tie optional if your bridal party and family are not going to be wearing formal evening wear.  I was once the ONLY person who opted for black-tie and it made for an incredibly uncomfortable evening.
  • details for other wedding weekend events—if you have many out-of-town guests, you might opt for a pre-wedding reception or a post-wedding brunch to be able to spend more time with your friends and family.  If so, you can include that information in an insert or on the website.  Just be sure to specify whether it’s for out-of-town guest only or if everyone is invited.  Rehearsal dinners are sent in separate invitations because of the selectivity of the guest list and because it is traditionally hosted by the groom’s parents, whereas the rest of the weekend is traditionally hosted by the bride’s parents.

There you go.  Those are the basics.  Not so daunting, right?  Use what works for you and let the rest go.  As long as your invitations reflect the pertinent, logistical information, they will serve their purpose.

Article was originally published on February 21, 2011.

By Lindsay
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  • The Sweet Christian Bride
    • Dj Botez says:

      Have a beautiful day. Enjoy this spring and express your love. DJ Nunta

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