One of the questions we are asked the most by our couples (along with “How cool is it to play with paper all day?!”) is “How in the world am I supposed to word my wedding invitations and what are all those etiquette rules I should worry about?”

Understanding invitation etiquette and sorting out what wording to use to invite guests to your celebration should NOT be something that keeps you up at night or dominates your Google/Pinterest searches. Save that extra energy for writing the best vows anyone has ever spoken or planning some really killer honeymoon adventures.

We’re happy to do the heavy lifting when it comes to nailing those nitty gritty wording details, so we created a straightforward, easy to use, and darn good looking (if we do say so ourselves!) infographic to guide you through the process of selecting wording for your wedding invitations.

We include a simple breakdown of the key anatomy of a wedding invitation, what to avoid (the big bad registry mention!), tips and tricks for understanding attire and our fave wording options for different celebration styles. And to make things extra easy? In this post we include 21 different cut-and-pastable wording examples you can copy right from the page and then update with your particulars.

Think of it as a little early wedding gift from us to you 🙂

There are 6 key parts to a wedding invitation that stationery etiquette have some guidelines for. We are big fans of knowing the rules and then breaking them when it suits you. Truly, your invitations should be a reflection of your celebration, whether that is traditional and formal or playful and casual. Our job is to help you understand what to include and how, yours is to decide what works for you!

ANATOMY OF AN INVITATION

1) Hosting | The very start of the invitation contains some pretty important wording! How you list either the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents, both or neither, will indicate to guests who, to put it bluntly, is paying for the bulk of the wedding and essentially hosting the event. Traditionally, the primary host has been the parents of the bride, but this tradition is changing, with many families contributing equally to the wedding, or the couple hosting on their own. We recommend selecting the wording that honors your families and fits your celebration the best, whether it’s “Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy requesting the pleasure of your company” or more inclusive wording, such as, “Together with their families.” For couples with families that have divorced parents that have either remarried or have not remarried, this can be a little extra complicated. Recognizing all those important people is one of the biggest challenges for couples. Who to list first? How to list them? Here is a quick breakdown for the best ways to list bride’s parents who are divorced/remarried:

  • Divorced Parents, Neither Re-Married: Ms. Helena Carter (mom comes first, always!) // Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy // request the pleasure of your company // at the marriage of their daughter
  • Divorced Parents, Mother Re-Married: Mr. and Mrs. Randolf Harris // Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy // request the pleasure of your company // at the marriage of their daughter
  • Divorced Parents, Father Re-Married: Ms. Helena Carter // Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy // request the pleasure of your company // at the marriage of their daughter
  • Both Re-Married: Mr. and Mrs. Randolf Harris // Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy // request the pleasure of your company // at the marriage of their daughter

For more, you can also scroll down to our copy-and-pastable wording examples to grab the text that fits you best.

2) Request Lines | Like the host line, the request lines also have a hidden meaning! This part of the invitation indicates whether you are having a ceremony that is held in a place of worship or at a secular location (surprise!). For religious ceremonies held in a place of worship, the wording usually begins with “The honor/honour of your presence is requested…” For ceremonies that are not held in a place of worship, the traditional wording is “The pleasure of your company is requested…”

There are variations on both options, such as “Your joyful presence is requested at the marriage celebration of…” for less formal celebrations or “The honour of your presence is requested at the Nuptial Mass uniting…” for Catholic ceremonies.

For ceremonies held in a house of worship, spelling honour with a “u” is also acceptable and generally considered an extra layer of formality. Check out our full list of wording variations below for more!

3) Bride + Groom | You’re probably thinking, “Well this section is totally obvious, it’s just our names, right?” Well…it is…and it isn’t. Yes, this is the section where you list the stars of the show – you guys – but there are still a few things to know:

  • The bride comes first, always. Until she is married, the bride is listed first on all paper. 
  • If the bride’s parents are hosting, her last name is omitted because theirs precedes her. If divorced parents are listed in the host line, then her last name is added for clarity.
  • If the groom’s parents are also listed in the host section, both the bride’s and groom’s last names may be omitted. It is equally correct to leave them in and is really at your discretion.
  • It is also optional to add a line right after the groom’s name to honor his parents. This is called a “Son of” line and reads like this: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

4) Date + Time | This is one of the more straightforward parts of the invitation and there are really just a few things to know:

  • Date:  Always write out the date in full and list the day of the week first, this is especially helpful if you are having a Friday or Sunday celebration! Like this: Saturday, the fifteenth of June.
  • Year:  If you are including the year, write it out in full. It is equally correct to write it with and without the “and” (two thousand sixteen // two thousand and sixteen). Traditional wedding etiquette also recommends capitalizing the T at the start of the year. The rest should remain lowercase.
  • Time:  For the time, if it is on the hour, you can simply say “at six o’clock in the evening.” If it is on the half hour, it is most correct to write “at half after six o’clock in the evening.” 
  • Time of Day:  Finally, 4pm is considered afternoon, but 5pm and later is considered evening.

5) Location | Unless your celebration is being held at a private home or at a location with an unlisted address, typically the street address is not included in this section and only the city and state are noted, both spelled out in full without abbreviation.  If you are marrying at a church and there is another church in the same town with a similar name, that would be another instance where the street address would be included to ensure guests navigate to the correct venue.

6) Reception | The party lines! The reception wording is a great place to let guests know what to expect after the ceremony. If your ceremony and reception are at different locations, you have the traditional option of including a separate reception card, or choosing to forgo the extra piece and include the reception details right on the invitation. If your ceremony and reception are held in the same location, then you can take the opportunity to let guests know what time of reception you are having and when it begins. There are a range of different wording options available, based on the level of formality you want to convey, how much information you need to communicate to guests (for example, if the reception takes place several hours after the ceremony), and how much space you have on the invite. Here are a few of the more notable options and when to use them:

  • Traditional Wording, Separate Locations: and afterwards at the reception // Beaulieu Garden
  • Modern Wording, Separate Locations, No Time Gap: Cocktails, dinner and dancing to follow // Beaulieu Garden
  • Modern Wording, Separate Locations, Time Gap: Cocktails, dinner and dancing to follow // at six o’clock in the evening // Beaulieu Garden
  • Celebratory Wording, Separate Locations: Cocktails, dinner and merriment to follow // Beaulieu Garden
ATTIRE

Understanding the different options available for indicating what dress code guests should follow is one of the MOST confusing parts of selecting wedding invitation wording. Is there really a difference between formal and semi-formal? What about saying black tie preferred over just black tie? Just like everything else in Weddingland, there are important differences for both! We like to keep it simple (can you tell?) so check out our quick list below noting what each option means for guest attire to help you pick the correct phrasing for your celebration:

  • Black Tie: This is for the most formal of weddings. Black tie indicates tuxedo with bowtie and cummerbund or vest for men, and a long, formal gown in muted hues for ladies.
  • Black Tie Preferred or Formal Attire: These options can be used interchangeably to mean that men may wear a formal tuxedo or a dark suit with a tie. Ladies may wear a long gown or a shorter, but still formal, cocktail dress, usually in darker neutral hues (skip the fun hot pink frock for this one!).
  • Semi-Formal Attire: This is the phrasing that confuses most couples! Semi-formal means a suit with a tie for men, fancy cocktail dress for ladies. A suit jacket should still be worn, but the dark color rule isn’t as crucial, if it is a daytime or summer wedding, a lighter tan suit is acceptable.
  • Cocktail Attire: Cocktail attire means suit coat is encouraged, but optional, and a tie is still requested for men; cocktail dress, usually not a long one, is expected for the ladies. 
  • Resort Casual or Beach Chic: You will most often see these attire options for destination weddings or for celebrations taking place beachside. For men, think collared or linen shirts with slacks for men (no tie needed), and fun summer dress with flat sandals for ladies.
  • Garden Party Attire: Garden party attire typically indicates a light-colored, summer suit for men (tie optional) and a short summer dress for ladies.
TIPS AND TRICKS

There are a few extra tips and tricks we like to keep in mind when selecting wedding invitation wording with our couples. Stationery etiquette has a few traditional rules and guidelines that we think are important to consider, to avoid making any significant faux pas when inviting guests to your celebration.

Registry: First: the registry details. This is a big one, friends. Never ever (really!), should the registry information be included on your invitation, or in your invitation suite at all. This is considered the biggest stationery mistake a couple can make. Don’t take our word for it, here are etiquette boss lady, Emily Post’s, thoughts on the subject:

“On the one hand, wedding invitations are the only kind that carry an unspoken obligation to give a gift, regardless of whether or not a guest can attend. But, there is no mention of gifts – not even “no gifts, please” – and never any mention of registry information on a wedding invitation.”

Instead, we recommend including registry details on a wedding website and noting the website on a card in your invitation suite (a mini website tag is our favorite place), or informing close family members of your registry, so they can pass this information along to inquiring family members and friends through word of mouth.

Mailing: Just as important as the wording used on your invitations, is knowing when to send them to your guests. We have a separate post with a graphic, quick and easy timeline for when to send wedding invitations, but here is a shortcut version of traditional mailing times:

  • Standard Mailing (save the dates sent): 6-8 weeks before the wedding
  • Standard Mailing (no save the dates sent): 8 weeks before the wedding
  • Destination Weddings: 8-12 weeks before the wedding

Post Office Handling: When you spend hours and hours perfecting the loveliest wedding invitation suite to act as a prelude to the most important party you’re ever going to throw and sending it to all the people you hold dearest to you, it is kind of important that USPS doesn’t manhandle and destroy them before they even reach your guests. Am I right? While you can’t request a white-gloved delivery service (how cool would that be, though!?), you can take a couple extra precautions to make sure they arrive looking their best. Here are our pro tips for the best possible mailing experience:

  • Postage: There is nothing worse than sending 100 beautifully calligraphed envelopes, only to have them returned to you for insufficient postage. While the number of stamps you need may seem straightforward, keep in mind, extra thick or heavy invitation sets, or suites with a seal, bow or other addition creating a “bump” will require additional postage, often at the discretion of the postal worker handling your suite. The “rigidity” of an invitation is a subjective determination so be sure to check in with the post office you will be mailing from and have them weight and test an actual set you will be sending to make sure you are covered when it comes to the postage amount.
  • Hand Canceling: Usually reserved for non-machinable items (letters that are too thick to make it through the postage canceling machine), hand canceling is the process by which a postal worker stamps your envelopes by hand to zero out the postage before they are sorted. This service usually requires an additional $.21 for postage, but is the best way to make sure your invitations make it to guests looking their best. Unfortunately, not all post offices will do this for you. Some will accept the envelopes with a note and send them to the district/regional postal facility to be hand stamped, others will refuse altogether. Usually, smaller suburban post offices where workers are less stressed are your best bet for having them cancelled on site or even, for the lucky few, while you wait. We always recommend letting postal employees know that you are sending wedding invitations before asking, it’s a little harder for them to say no – a little love goes a long way!
WORDING EXAMPLES

BRIDE’S PARENTS HOSTING

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

Held In a Place of Worship

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Charles Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

Groom’s Parents Honored

BOTH PARENTS HOSTING

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

and afterward at the reception

Not Held In a Place of Worship

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

and Mr. and Mrs. William Charles Darcy

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their children

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

Held in Place of Worship

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

and Mr. and Mrs. William Charles Darcy

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their children

Elizabeth Lauren

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

Reception immediately following

Not held in a place of worship – option 2

COUPLE HOSTING

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

together with

Mr. and Mrs. William Charles Darcy

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their children

Elizabeth Lauren

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

and afterward at the reception

Not held in a place of worship – option 1

Together with their families

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

request the honour of your presence

at the celebration of their marriage

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

Held in Place of Worship

Together with their families

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

invite you to celebrate

as they join together in marriage

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

Reception immediately following

Not held in a place of worship – option 2

The pleasure of your company

is requested at the marriage of

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

and afterward at the reception

Not held in a place of worship – with titles

DIVORCED PARENTS

Together with their families

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

request the pleasure of your company

at the celebration of their marriage

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

and afterward at the reception

Not held in a place of worship – option 1

The honour of your presence

is requested at the marriage of

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

Held in a place of worship – with titles

The pleasure of your company

is requested at the marriage of

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Charles Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

Reception immediately following

Parents Honored

Ms. Emily Jane Gardiner

Mr. James Godfrey Bennet

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

Bride’s parents divorced, not remarried

Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Ryan Bingley

Mr. James Godfrey Bennet

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

Reception immediately following

Not held in a place of worship

Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Ryan Bingley

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

and afterward at the reception

Bride’s parents divorced, both remarried

PLEASE NOTE, THE BRIDE’S MOTHER IS ALWAYS LISTED FIRST, UNLESS SHE IS IN NO WAY CONTRIBUTING TO THE COST OF THE WEDDING

DECEASED PARENTS

Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

requests the honour of your presence

at the marriage of her daughter

Elizabeth Lauren

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

Widowed parent hosts alone

Mrs. Emily Gardiner Bennet

and the late Mr. James Godfrey Bennet

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

Reception immediately following

Deceased parent honored

Mrs. Emily Gardiner Bennet

and Mr. James Godfrey Bennet†

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren Bennett

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

and afterward at the reception

Deceased parent honored, most traditional

SAME SEX MARRIAGE

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Lauren

to

Charlotte Jane Lucas

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Seven Angels Church

Rutherford, California

Reception to follow

Beaulieu Garden

One set of parents hosting

Because you have shared in our lives,

with your friendship and love, we

Charles James Bennet

to

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

request the pleasure of your company

at our marriage

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

Reception immediately following

Couple Hosting

Mr. and Mrs. James Godfrey Bennet

and Mr. and Mrs. William Charles Darcy

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their sons/children

Charles James Bennet

and

Fitzwilliam Randolph Darcy

Saturday, the twenty sixth of September

Two thousand twenty

at six o’clock in the evening

Beaulieu Garden

Rutherford, California

and afterward at the reception

Both parents hosting

Whew! We know that was a lot of words. But our objective with this post was to: 1) Provide a quick and easy guide for couples who want the basics – aka  the infographic and 2) Provide a more in-depth discussion of all the elements of an invitation for couples who want a deeper understanding of etiquette and stationery wording. We hope that helps everyone and takes some of the stress out of one of the most fun parts of the planning process. Our team is also exceptionally knowledgeable about stationery etiquette, wording and mailing practices (we pride ourselves on being die-hard paper nerds), so feel free to get in touch with us by phone, email or in the comments below if you have a specific question we haven’t addressed here! xox, A

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