Phew! You finally selected the perfect wedding invitation design (and it’s fabulous btw). The hard part is over, right? Not so fast. It’s time to pen the perfect message for this piece of art. While it may sound simple, crafting your wedding invitation wording may not be as straightforward as your walk down the aisle.
Whose name comes first? Which details do you include? What tone should you use? How do you communicate the dress code? Where do you share your wedding website URL? When and how do you ask for replies? And most importantly, how do you ensure you don’t offend your future in-laws even before you say “I do”?! Just take it one step at a time.
The Slurpee-sized brain freeze that hits when staring at a blank page can be panic-inducing for even the sharpest wordsmiths, especially when the message you’re composing is so significant. After all, your wedding invitation isn’t something you want to get wrong. As the topmost guest touchpoint, your wedding invitation sets the tone for the whole soirée and lives on as a tangible keepsake you’ll revisit time and again. Gulp…
Don’t panic! You’ve come to the wedding invitation wording experts. Cheree Berry Paper & Design possesses a penchant for writing perfect-10, chef’s kiss-worthy wedding invites. We’ve carefully crafted thousands of unique wedding invitations with phrasing that perfectly echoes a couple’s personality, shares all pertinent wedding details, credits all parties appropriately…and not a single family feud to date! You might just call us the ChatCBP of wedding stationery 😉
We’ll share our most requested wedding invitation wording examples and break wedding invitation wording down into more easily digestible bite-sized tips you can apply to your own marriage missive. Grab your notepad and let’s get started.
Wedding Invitation Wording 101
First, a quick intro to wedding invitation wording essentials before we discuss each in detail. Real estate on the main wedding invitation card comes at a premium like a Fifth Avenue penthouse overlooking Central Park. However, you do need to make room for a few non-negotiable elements:
The Host Line
Like the opening of an Oscar’s acceptance speech, the host line acknowledges the person or people who made this momentous occasion possible.
The Request Line
A more Shakespearean way of saying “You’re invited,” the request line is your official event ask.
The Couple’s Names
You can’t spell wedding without the “we,” so the couple’s names should shine front and center.
Set the scene clearly and concisely with the logistics: wedding date, time and location.
An abbreviation for the French “Please reply,” the RSVP prompts guests to officially tell you if they’ll be there or elsewhere on your big day. Translation: beaucoup important!
The Attire Directive
Increasingly common on wedding invitations, the dress code or attire directive acts as a public service address informing guests what to wear.
You can communicate these messaging must-haves in a myriad of ways to fit the tone of your wedding. Plus, you can insert even more of your personality in the ancillary pieces of the formal wedding invitation suite. Have no fear – we’ll walk you through it all below!
Set the Tone for your Wedding with the Right Wording
The design of your formal wedding invitation and the tone of your invitation wording should go hand in hand like easy Sunday mornings and long brunches. Proper or playful, traditional or tongue-in-cheek – how you phrase your wedding invitation leaves a lasting impression on your guests and gives a sneak peek into the fabulous fête that awaits them.
The tone of your wedding invitation wording should align with the overall event energy. Planning a black-tie soirée in a ballroom? Make sure your verbiage is dressed to the nines too. Jetting off to an island oasis for a beach celebration? Let your words whisk your guests away to the tropical trip that awaits. Holding an intimate ceremony for your very nearest and dearest? Lean into more personal parlance.
To Be Formal or Not to Be Formal: That Is the Perpetual Wedding Invitation Wording Question
On top of striking the right mood, your wedding invitation should also sound like you! The verbiage you choose should herald your voice, values and personality.
No two couples, families, sets of circumstances, weddings or wedding invitations are alike. As such, one wedding invitation script does not fit all. At the end of the day, it’s your big day. You get to be the author of your own wedding invitation story and decide whether to follow formalities verbatim, veer slightly off-script or go full-on improv. We encourage you to do what makes you feel most comfortable.
If You Fancy More Formal Wedding Invitation Wording
Steeped in social tradition, formal etiquette intends to honor the individual with whom you’re interacting by extending great respect and courtesy. Formal wedding invitations tend to use British spellings (favour and honour, for example) and uphold tried-and-true protocols practiced by royalty, heads of state…and now you. How very positively posh, darling!
Perhaps Informal Wedding Invitation Wording is Your Cup of Tea
It’s important to note that wedding invitation wording isn’t a carved-in-stone, Emily Post-policed mail mandate.
The truth of the marriage matter is that many wedding customs – including wedding invitation wording – are grounded in patriarchal, heteronormative systems dating back centuries. For example, the tradition of a bride’s parents footing the wedding bill stems from fathers paying dowries to secure their daughters’ unions.
Thankfully the dowries of Jane Austen’s day are now custom non grata (yay for feminism and equal rights!). But the moral of the story remains that many wedding guidelines are still playing catchup to areas of cultural progress. As is the case with the wedding invitation vernacular. Whether you’re more comfortable using formal wedding invitation wording or playing with your prose, by all means, you do you!
Give Credit Where Credit is Due with the Host Line
When we say, “host,” we’re referring to the individual(s) financially responsible for the wedding. Giving them top billing on the invitation’s first line amounts to a small but significant gesture of appreciation that we highly recommend including. And if the hosts are you and your partner (cue the Beyoncé hair flip), we’ll show you how to word that too!
Standard Host Line Procedures
When it comes to the host line, traditional wedding invitation wording etiquette dictates:
- Using preferred honorifics (Mr./Mrs./Doctor/Reverend, etc.)
- Spelling out full names, including middle names
- Dropping titles and middle names altogether if one individual does not want theirs included – consistency is key
- Joining married couples’ names with the word “and”
- Separating unmarried couples’ names across two lines WITHOUT the word “and”
A Host of Possibilities
The host line is probably the most variable element of the invitation equation. But in our nearly two decades designing invitations, we’ve seen a handful of hosting scenarios more often than others:
Hosted By the Bride’s Parents
The bride’s parents contributing the lion’s share of the wedding budget prevails as a popular practice.
Mr. and Mrs. Gomez Florencia Addams
If both sets of parents are substantially involved financially, as is becoming more common, and you want to recognize all parties in print, list their names successively. For an opposite-gender wedding, we recommend listing the bride’s parents’ names first. And for a same-sex wedding, we recommend listing parents in alpha order.
Hosted By the Bride’s Parents: Mother Has Kept Her Maiden Name
“Ms.” and “Mr.” are the prescribed social titles for this situation, though using “Mrs.” or forgoing titles altogether is also acceptable.
Ms. Elizabeth James
and Mr. Nicholas Parker
Hosted by Parent(s) Who Are Doctors
Whether or not to use a professional title is a personal preference, though the use of “Doctor” on a wedding invitation is typically reserved for medical doctors and ministers with advanced degrees. If choosing to use “Doctor,” the name of the parent with that distinction is listed first.
Doctor and Mrs. John Hamish Watson
For an opposite-gender married couple in which the woman is a doctor, formal etiquette proposes dropping the woman’s professional title altogether, but in our opinion, that’s backwards. We shouldn’t be erasing a woman’s professional achievements to risk bruising egos!
Doctor Nalini Vishwakumar
and Mr. Mohan Vishwakumar
If both hosts are doctors, you can opt to address them collectively if they share a surname or individually, including each person’s professional title, first name and last name.
Doctor Meredith Grey
and Doctor Derek Shepherd
Divorced Parents: Mother Has Not Remarried
Divorced parents’ names appear on separate lines without the use of “and” between them. The mother’s name comes first, with either the “Mrs.” or “Ms.” prefix preceding it.
(Ms./Mrs). Miriam Maisel
Mr. Joel Maisel
Divorced Parents: Mother Has Remarried
If a divorced woman remarries and assumes a new last name, “Mrs.” will precede her current husband’s name. Remember, if the parents have split, split their names across two lines without the word “and.”
Mrs. Henry Francis
Mr. Donald Draper
A Widowed Mother Who Has Not Remarried
Lady Violet Elizabeth Bridgerton
In the event a widowed mother has remarried, her new married name (if so assumed) would appear on the invitation.
Formal etiquette advises excluding the name of a loved one who has passed away as a host to keep the wedding invitation firmly focused on the couple and the wedding at hand. But when it comes to such sensitive matters, there are no wrong answers. Many of our couples wish to honor the memory of the deceased by incorporating their name. We’ve used the following iterations for some of our own clients:
Lady Violet Bridgerton
with the memory of Viscount Edmund Bridgerton
Lady Violet Bridgerton
and the late Viscount Edmund Bridgerton
Hosted By the Couple
When a couple is hosting the wedding themselves or in tandem with their families, you can either omit a host line altogether or list the couple’s names right out of the gate.
Ms. Leslie Knope
Mr. Benjamin Wyatt
Together with their families
Mitchell Vincent Pritchett
Cameron Scott Tucker
Make the Ask Official with the Request Line
The request line is just another way of saying, “You’re invited.” The two most common request lines are “request the pleasure of your company” and “request the honor of your presence.” Neither is more or less formal than the other, but they traditionally communicate different circumstances surrounding the wedding.
Request The Pleasure of Your Company
You use “request the pleasure of your company” for weddings that take place in a secular location (i.e. hotel, country club, private residence, etc.).
Mr. And Mrs. George Stanley Banks
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Request the Honor of Your Presence
You traditionally reserve “request the honor of your presence” for weddings taking place in a religious house of worship (i.e. churches, chapels, temples, etc.). Another matter of personal preference, both the American spelling “honor” and the English spelling “honour” are correct.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wallace
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
And Now for the Stars of the Wedding Invitation Show
Spell out the names of the two tying the knot. For opposite-gender couples, the bride’s name is traditionally listed first. If the bride’s parents appear as hosts, omit the bride’s last name. For a more formal feel, you can choose to include the man’s title.
Mr. James Duncan Halpert
For same-sex couples, alphabetical order is recommended. Though, if their names already debuted in the opening host credits, do not repeat them again.
The pleasure of your company
is requested at the marriage of
Connect the Dots with the Joining Line
Before a couple is joined in matrimony, their names are joined on the wedding invitation by one of two words – “to” or “and.” Which you use is up to you! That said, in Jewish tradition, “and” is the preferred joining word, and oftentimes, the groom’s parents appear under his name.
Mr. And Mrs. Stephen York
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
son of Mr. And Mrs. Harold Goldenblatt
The When and Where of the Whole Wedding Affair
The primary purpose of a wedding invitation is to get guests to the wedding on the right day, at the right time, at the right place. Make sure your invitation wording is clear and concise in these key areas:
When in doubt, spell it out – the day of the week, the date, the month and the year! Note: the year should appear on its own line.
Saturday, the third of June
two thousand twenty-three
If your invitation is typeset in sentence case, you can elect whether or not to capitalize the year. Though we tend to stick to traditional precedent and leave it lowercase.
Let your guests know whether your wedding bells will ring on the hour, the half-hour or the quarter of the hour. “Evening” refers to anything after 6:00 PM, though the inclusion of “In the afternoon” or “In the evening” isn’t necessary unless the time of day is ambiguous without it.
at five o’clock (in the afternoon)
at half past five o’clock (in the afternoon)
at a quarter after six o’clock (in the evening)
The venue, city and state and/or country should all be present and accounted for on your wedding invitation. If the wedding ceremony and wedding reception occur at two different locations, we recommend a separate reception card for clarity. The reception card is also a space you can infuse tone, design and provide more event details for your guests.
The Plaza Hotel
New York, New York
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Will They or Won’t They? Find Out with the RSVP
No need to parlez français to know that RSVP is short for “Répondez s’il vous plait” – aka “Please reply.” If you’re looking to mix it up, reply cards are our favorite place to have some fun and get guests engaged!
If you’re holding an additional wedding event and only inviting a subset of your guests, such as an intimate rehearsal dinner for immediate family and the wedding party, you may want to consider a second version of your reply card. However, if all guests are invited to any and all events outside the wedding itself, one version of the reply card will suffice.
The Call to Reply
If you use the British spelling “honour” on the invite, use the British spelling “favour” on the reply too. Likewise, if your main invitation language is less formal, consider the condensed “Please reply.”
In terms of timing, set the RSVP due date at least one month in advance of your wedding date. For destination “I dos” that require more advanced planning, we recommend at least six weeks ahead. Regarding “by” versus “before” – it’s just a matter of semantics in our opinion, and stragglers will still stumble in after the deadline either way.
The (favor/favour) of a reply is requested (by/before) the first of May
(Kindly/Please reply) by the first of May
Relying on traditional reply responses, such as “Accepts with pleasure” and “Declines with regret,” keep the card clean and classy. But reply responses present another space you can infuse clever copy that plays up your personalities, party themes or wedding destination.
Other Info to Collect from Your Reply Set
- Names of Attendees: Prompt guests to name names. Traditionally you see this in the form of an “M” line, but we prefer to nix this in favor of Name(s).
- Entrée Selection: Include checkboxes with entrée options if you’re offering your guests a meal choice.
- Dietary Restrictions: Additionally, inquire whether your guests have any dietary restrictions or allergies you will need to accommodate.
- Chosen Accommodations: Have overnight guests indicate where they’ll be staying to make welcome bag distribution a breeze.
- Contact Info: Collect your guests’ most up-to-date contact information to ensure you keep them in the loop.
- Witty Tidbits: We love creating smile-inducing opportunities to engage with guests. Ask your guests for song requests or designate space for them to leave you a note. Who would have guessed Uncle Steven is a Swiftie?!
What to Wear to a Wedding: The Ultimate Guest Conundrum
Can we hear a little commotion for the dress code?! First, let’s demystify some of the most common clothing codes:
This is the most formal dress code – think royal weddings and the Met Gala – where men (or anyone dressing masculinely) is expected to wear a tuxedo with tails, a white dress shirt and vest, bow tie and gloves. Women should be trés chic in a floor-length gown and heels.
A slight step down from white tie, black tie attire still means floor-length gowns, formal pantsuits and tuxedos, but men can ditch the tails and gloves. For summer weddings, white dinner jackets could be worn instead.
An extremely popular wedding dress code for any time of year or venue, cocktail attire is a balance between elegance and comfort. Knee-length or midi dresses for the ladies and a suit and tie for the gentlemen.
Semi-formal exists as a great option for relaxed beachside nuptials and laid-back outdoor celebrations. Semi-formal attire directs guests to dress up but opens the door to more comfortable clothing options such as sundresses, sandals, slacks and tie-free ensembles.
For the fashion-forward and editorially-inclined, thematically festive attire directives have become increasingly en vogue. When venturing outside familiar attire umbrellas – think alpine chic, Italian coastal cocktail, retro resort– it’s important to define the style aesthetic you’re envisioning so guests know what fits the vibe. We’ve had clients who’ve even linked to lookbooks on their websites.
Once you’ve landed on the clothing code that best fits your wedding day vibes, you’ll want to include that line beneath the location on your wedding invitation or reception card if you have one. Or if you read these descriptions and realize you don’t care what your guests wear, no worries! You don’t have to list a dress code (remember, no rules!).
Direct Your Guests to the Worldwide Wed!
Having a digital hub for your guests where you can update event information at a moment’s notice is invaluable. Your invitation arrives straight to the point, whereas your wedding website functions as elaboration station.
Here, you can get into all the specifics:
- Weekend itinerary
- Transportation schedule
- Travel tips
- Accommodation options
- Note from the couple
- Relationship story/timeline
- Destination recommendations
- Advance RSVP
- Wedding party who’s who
- …and more!
Your wedding website is also a great place to show off those beautiful engagement photos, too, and add a beautiful, personal touch!
We recommend first listing your wedding website on your save the dates, then adding a separate card to your formal wedding invitation suite directing guests to your site. Be sure to secure a unique wedding website URL (say hello to the wedding hashtag 2.0). If you want a domain catchier than just janeandjohn.com, don’t tone it down – pun it up! Keep in mind, your URL shouldn’t be loaded with special characters or be too long. Also consider whether you want to password protect your site for privacy.
While there’s nothing sweeter than dolled-up little ones dancing on their parent’s feet, many couples choose to have child-free receptions or to limit children to immediate family members only. Avoid an awkward exchange with Cousin Karen by borrowing one of these phrases for your wedding website:
Please note, this will be an adults-only celebration.
Respectfully, an adult occasion (18+). Infants under 12 months are welcome.
We love you and your children, but due to capacity constraints, we’ve had to institute the bottle rule. If your children aren’t bottle feeding or hitting the (alcohol) bottle and thus eligible for their own invite, we can’t accommodate. Take it as an excuse to let loose – you’ve earned it!
Signed, Sealed and Almost-Delivered – Time to Address Your Wedding Invitations
Oh em gee – you did it! Now to get these bad boys in the mail. Surprise: the etiquette of envelope addressing is its own beast.
Luckily, our How to Address Your Wedding Invitations Handbook has guidance for every name, title, relationship and address scenario on your guest list. But it’s still on you to chase up everyone’s addresses (as much as we wish we could take that chore off your plate!).
Tying It All Up (With a Bow on Top, of Course)
When you combine exquisite visuals, harmonious tone and intentional voice, the wedding invitation dreams that you dream really do come true. The energy you put into crafting your unique wedding invitation should leap off of the page just like your heart will when you see your soon-to-be-spouse standing down the aisle waiting for you!
Want help bringing your dream wedding invitation suite to life? Cheree Berry Paper & Design can help. Connect with us, and an account manager will be in touch to get to know more about you, your partner and your big day. We can’t wait to create your perfect wedding invitation!