Wedding Etiquette and Tips

Wedding Invitation Etiquette

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Basic Elements of Wedding Invitation Wording
  • This page will be discussing in depth these basic wording elements. It will help you to familiarize yourself with these basic sections and terms.

    Basic Elements of Wedding Invitation Wording
Invitational Line

Traditionally, the parents of the bride issue wedding invitations. This tradition dates back to the days when a bride's father made the marriage arrangements for his daughter. The tradition continues today with the bride's family typically hosting the wedding. Accordingly, the names of the bride's parents appear on the first line of the wedding invitations.

Common Questions
  • My mother kept her maiden name, how do I write her name?You may want to suggest your parents use "Mr. and Mrs. John Alex Smith" for the wedding invitation. Another option is to put your parents' names on separate lines: Your mother's name on the first line and your fathers name on the second, preceded by "and". No titles should be used with this option.

    "Jane Harris
    and John Alex Smith"

  • My mother wishes to use her professional title, how do we properly include this in the invitational line?If your mother is a doctor, judge, minister, etc. she may wish to use her professional title. Women traditionally use their social titles. However, if she wishes to use her professional title, her name, preceded by her title, appears on the first line. Your father's name and title preceded by "and," will go on the second line.
  • We are paying for our own wedding, does this change the invitational line?It is still most proper for the bride's parents to issue the invitations. However, there may be times with the bride and groom choose to issue the invitations themselves. This most commonly occurs when the bride and groom are an older couple, have been previously married, or the bride's parents are deceased. See wording samples below.
  • My parents are divorced, how does this change the invitational line?Divorce situations are increasingly common. As a result, there are additional etiquette suggestions which ought to be considered. We have a prepared a dedicated section on divorce situations.
  • How do we indicate who is paying for the wedding?There is no proper way to indicate who is paying for the wedding. The wedding should be about the bride and groom, not who is footing the bill.
  • This will be the bride's second marriage, how does this affect the invitational line?When the bride or both the bride and groom are marrying for a second time; the invitations are traditionally issued by the bride and groom themselves. The bride's status dictates this. For example, if the bride had not been married previously but the groom had, the bride's parents still typically issue the invitations. The groom's status does not affect who issues the invitations.
  • Due to my religious preference, I think the wording is supposed to be slightly different.We have a dedicated page for common religions. If you need more help beyond this page please contact us directly as we are not able to cover every religion specifically through our website.
Divorce Situations

First and foremost, wedding etiquette rules are designed to minimize hurt feelings. Etiquette rules should never be followed at the expense of a damaged relationship.

When a bride's parents are divorced, the proper way to word the invitations is to list the bride's parents' names at the top of the invitation. The mother's name is on the first line, and the father's name is on the line beneath it. The names are not separated by the word "and" as this may imply they are still married, it also takes away from the visual precedence the Bride and Groom's names should have on the wedding invitation. If your mother is not remarried, she should use "Mrs." Followed by her name, maiden name and married name. If your mother is remarried, she uses "Mrs." Followed by her husband's full name.

When a groom's parents are divorced and are being included on the wedding invitation, the proper way to word the invitations is to list the groom's mother's name on the first line and the father's name on the line beneath it. The names are not separated by the word "and" as this may imply they are still married, it also takes away from the visual precedence the Bride and Groom's names should have on the wedding invitation.

Common Questions
  • How do I include stepparents?Traditionally, your parents are the ones to give you away. Generally, only the names of your natural parents go on the invitations. There are two general exceptions to this rule: First, when the bride's mother or father remarried and the stepparent was involved in raising the bride from a young age, and second, when the bride feels especially close to her stepparent. This is an unusually delicate subject, so do what you feel is best for the situation.
  • What if the groom's parents are also divorced?If you are including the grooms parents on the invitation, and they are also divorced, the same rules apply as with the bride's parents.
Request Lines

The phrase "request the honor of your presence" is typically reserved for ceremonies taking place at a house of worship, (temple, church, synagogue, other places of worship). The phrase "Request the pleasure of your company" is typically used for ceremonies not taking place in religious setting.

Joining Word

The word "the" joins the bride and grooms name in most circumstances. The word "and" is typically used in place of "the" if the wedding is a Jewish, LDS, Catholic, and in other religious ceremonies. "And" is also used if the invitations are issued by the bride and groom themselves.

Date Line

Traditionally, the day of the week and date are written out in full. Numerals and abbreviations should be avoided.

Year Line

It is not necessary to include the year of the wedding, though it is not improper to do so. If you choose to include the year, it should be on its own line. The year, like the date, should be written out. It may be written out as either, "two thousand eleven" or "two thousand and eleven." It is proper to either capitalize the first letter of the year, or to use all lowercase letters. Though it is most common to capitalize the first letter of the year. If you are sending out an announcement, and the wedding has already taken place, then a year should be included with the date.

Time Line

You may include the time of day though this is not usually necessary, as most people are able to determine the appropriate time of day. You may find that if your wedding is being held at an unusually late or unusually early time that including the time of day is useful.

The phrases "in the morning" or "in the evening" should be used over the "a.m." and "p.m." abbreviations.

"Half after," not "half past" should be used. Times between 12 noon and 5:30 pm are considered afternoon. Any time earlier is considered the morning, and anytime later is considered the evening.

Location Lines

The location of the wedding should be included. No abbreviations should be used. It is not necessary to include a zip code. An address may be bypassed if the location is common knowledge. If marrying at a household, simply the address should be provided. The line "request the honor of your presence" should not be used, as the wedding is not taking place on sanctified ground.

Optional Lines

In most cases optional lines should not be used, as they have stemmed from improper understanding of etiquette.

  • No ChildrenIt is not proper to indicate on the invitation or any other piece that children are not welcome. This is to be shared word of mouth before the wedding. Though still moderately inappropriate, a reasonable compromise is to add "Adult Only Reception" to the last line of your reception card.
  • Black tieGuests are to assume that the event is formal if the event takes place in a house of worship, or in the evening. If your event is a "Black tie" affair that will not be taking place under these circumstances or you are especially concerned, it is appropriate to add "Black tie" on your reception card. When doing this, be sure to capitalize properly as the "B" in "Black tie" is capitalized while the "t" in "tie" is not.
  • Gift RegistryIt is considered poor taste to include gift registry information on any part of your invitation ensemble. This comes across as a request in exchange for attending the wedding. The most proper way to let people know where you are registered is by word of mouth.
Grammar Tips

We have prepared a dedicated page for grammar tips.

Wording Samples

We have prepared a dedicated page for wedding invitation wording samples.