More Than Words: Making Sure Your Invitations Say the Right Thing

To paraphrase Jane Austen:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that your wedding invitations will set the tone for your whole celebration, giving guests a taste of the fabulous day you have planned.  Whilst you’ve doubtless heard this hundreds of times already, once you've rolled your eyes, think of it as a real opportunity. If you see your invitations as a statement of intent, you have a chance to get all your guests really excited about the day you want. You might be worried some of your older relatives won't get into the spirit of your festival wedding, but I promise you this: if she knows what to expect, Aunt Ethel will at the front of the queue for flower crowns with your best mate, champagne in hand!

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.


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The traditional invitation wording

I imagine you’re reasonably familiar with the traditional form of words:

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 2017 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’s 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, as 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 is exactly the same. Once you work out who’s hosting it should all be quite straight forward.



Going your own way

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 your a hand-fasting ceremony in a beautiful woodland setting, followed by feasting and dancing under the stars then say so.


Stylistic Details

Little things can make a big difference to the overall look and feel 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 2017
Saturday Twenty-Seventh October Twenty Seventeen
Saturday 27/10/2017
Saturday 27.10.17
3 o’clock
3 p.m.
3.00 p.m.
three in the afternoon
three o’clock

(remember that 12.00 is noon, rather than a.m. or p.m., or you’ll have my mum after you!)


Check list

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.