Unravelling the Mystery of Invitation Wording
Speaking to couples about their invitations, the one concern that seems crop up more than anything else is the question of wording; a subject seemingly shrouded in mystery. It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of wedding etiquette and there’s a real fear of getting it wrong and offending someone. The good news is that wording your invitations doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated as it might first appear; there are a few simple rules to follow if you want your invitations to follow the traditional form, so long as all the relevant details are covered though, there’s really nothing to stop you wording your invitations however you like.
My very best advice is to treat your invitations as a statement of intent, an opportunity to let your guests know what to expect and get them really excited about your wedding. Clearly the look of your invitations can tell people a lot, but the language you use will make a real difference too. So to help you make sure your invitations say exactly what you want them to, here's my guide to wording.
the traditional invitation wording
Mr & Mrs Bennett request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Elizabeth to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy
at St. Mary’s church, Netherfield
on Saturday, 22nd July 2018 at 3 o' clock
and afterwards at Pemberley House Hotel.
This is the standard, and we all know where we are with it. There's lots of ways to tweak it to suit the formality of your wedding:
If you want to be particularly formal, you can swap“pleasure of your company” for “honour of your presence”.
For something a little more relaxed, you could choose “Mr & Mrs Bennett invite you to join them for the marriage of their daughter…”
who is the invitation from?
This is one of those questions that can get a little bit tricky, but it doesn’t need to be. Traditionally the bride’s parents host (and pay for) the wedding, so the invitation comes from them. However this is less common now, more often both sets of parents and the couple themselves will all contribute. If everyone’s chipping in this is a lovely way to word things:
Together with their families,
Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy
request the pleasure of your company at their marriage…
Being so inclusive, this option suits a lot of situations, especially if your parent’s relationships are a little complicated. If you have divorced or unmarried parents hosting and you’d prefer to stick with the traditional form, the rule is to write exactly who is hosting and follow on from there.
for example: if the bride’s parents are divorced and subsequently remarried but jointly hosting the wedding, the invitation would read as follows:
Mr Bennett and Mrs Wickham request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter…
If your unmarried Aunt Ethel is hosting:
Miss Ethel Bennett, requests the pleasure of your company at the marriage of her niece …
Alternatively, you may prefer to send invitations from yourselves (simpler, right?):
Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Mr William Darcy request the pleasure of your company at their marriage…
For same sex couples, all of the above works in exactly the same way.
choosing your own words
You don’t have to stick with tradition though, If you’d prefer to say it differently then absolutely do; it is your wedding after all! My current favourite is to have the couple’s names printed in beautiful script followed by: “we’re getting married and we’d love you to join us” followed by details of date, time and location.
As well as setting the general tone, your invitation wording can inject some personality. Own your decisions and take the opportunity to get guests excited about them. If you’re planning an afternoon tea reception, or a hand-fasting ceremony in a beautiful woodland setting, followed by feasting and dancing under the stars then say so.
Little things can make a big difference to the overall tone of your invitations, so it’s worth considering the following:
Do you want your names written out in full (and middle names?) or the shortened version? Abigail and Matthew, or Abi and Matt? Do you want to include titles? If your parents are hosting, do you want to include their first names, or simply Mr and Mrs Bennett?
Dates and times
There are so many ways you can do this, have a play and see which you like the look of.
Saturday 27th October 2018
Saturday Twenty-Seventh October Twenty Eighteen
three in the afternoon
(remember that 12.00 is noon, rather than a.m. or p.m., or you’ll have my mum after you!)
However you choose to say it, your invitations should include the following information:
- Names of hosts and couple
- Date and time of wedding ceremony
- Where the ceremony is taking place
- Where the reception is taking place (and time on evening invitations, or if reception is much later than the ceremony).
- RSVP address and reply date
- Dress code (if applicable)
- State if the invitation is to the ceremony, reception or evening party.
- If you’re inviting children, their names should be individually listed after their parents’.
- You might also wish to include special instructions such as dress code, or the time celebrations will draw to a close (e.g. carriages at midnight) though these can be included on a separate sheet with other useful information if you prefer.