Your wedding invitations are one of the most important elements of your big day. Not only do they provide your guests with the important wedding details, such as date, time and location, but they also communicate the style and tone of the wedding. Is your special day going to be one of tradition and formality, or are you going for a more relaxed and whimsical setting? Is your reception being held at a luxury hotel, on the beach, or in a tropical garden?
Every wedding has its own unique and personalized character, simply because every couple is different. Brides and grooms want a wedding that is distinctively theirs. Regardless whether it’s a formal dinner soiree or a beachside cocktail reception, there are elements of the wedding invitation that are customary throughout, as we shall explain!
THE ANATOMY OF A WEDDING INVITATION
Most couples try to maintain a style that is socially correct while at the same time creating an invitation that is personally theirs. Elements such as colour, fonts, graphics, card type, embellishments, etc. can be used to create that feeling of individuality, without sacrificing the traditional elements.
That being said there are those couples who love to challenge tradition. In this case, the sky’s the limit!
Meaningful verses or quotes, out-of-the-box layouts and wording, can all come together (once carefully thought out) to create stationery that just screams “exceptionality”.
Whichever style suits you, these 6 basic elements should always be included:
NAME OF THE HOST(S)
Invitations should start with the name(s) of those who are hosting the wedding. Traditionally the bride’s parents usually pay for the wedding and are therefore considered the hosts. However in more modern weddings the expenses are shared, and therefore invitations may state multiple hosts. This can include both the bride’s and the groom’s parents, other family members or the couple themselves.
The phrases used to extend the invitation vary depending on the location of the ceremony. For weddings taking place in a Place of Worship, such as a Church or Synagogue, the line “request the honour of your presence” is used. For a more informal location such as a hotel, private villa or beachfront ceremony, the line “request the pleasure of your company” is written. Should the invitation be for a Reception only, the lines “would be delighted by your presence” or “invite you to join them at the wedding reception of” are more appropriate.
NAME OF COUPLE
The Bride and Groom are the most important elements of the invitation, and their names are therefore located on separate lines. The preposition used to link them (whether it be “to” or “and”) is usually on its own line. Traditionally, the bride’s last name (once it’s the same as her parents’ above) is not repeated. Titles such as Mr. and Miss are not used. In more contemporary weddings, where both sets of parents are hosts, the last names are treated equally.
DATE AND TIME OF THE WEDDING
The date of the wedding on traditional invitations is usually spelt out (eg. Saturday the third of March). There is no “and” before the year, which is also spelt out using all lowercase letters. When indicating the time, usually it is spelled out and written to describe the placement of hands on a clock (eg. “half after” or “half past two”; not 2:30p.m.), and include either “in the morning”, “in the afternoon” (before 6pm) or “in the evening” (after 6pm).
LOCATION OF THE WEDDING AND RECEPTION
Traditionally, street addresses of places of worship or well-known locations were not included on the invitation. This, however, has been changing with time and more couples are including the basic address (zip codes and the name of countries are not used, except in the case of a destination wedding). Commas are not used at the ends of lines. If the reception is in the same place as the ceremony, a single invitation can be used. If however the reception is held elsewhere, a separate card might be helpful.
Traditionally, separate RSVP cards, envelopes and stamps have been used to encourage guests to respond to their invitation. However, the more common practice for today’s weddings is to list in the lower left corner on the invitation: a telephone number, email address or website that can be used to respond, and a preferred response deadline date.
OTHER POINTS TO NOTE FOR YOUR INVITATIONS
• If your event won’t include a full meal, it’s courteous to inform your guests. Use phrasing such as “and afterward for cocktails” instead of the classic “at the reception.”
• If you want to stress the importance of the style of dress — black tie, for instance, or casual attire — place that information in the lower right corner, or on the reception card.
• The only thing that should not be included anywhere on your invitation — not even as an insert — is your registry information. As altruistic as this may seem, it still isn’t considered appropriate to place a reference to gifts on a wedding invitation. Instead, let your wedding party help get the word out.
• If you don’t want guests to bring children to the wedding there are much nicer ways to get this point across to your guests other than printing “no children please” on the invitation. The most subtle approach is to spread the word by mouth or on your wedding website. If you are looking for a more formal way to get the point across you can note “adult reception” on the invitation or reception card, or structure the response card as follows:
Please respond on or before [month] [day], [year]
Number of Adults __________
Regardless of style, colour, size, and wording on your wedding stationery, one thing to remember is that the invitation is your guests’ first impression of your special day. Make sure that you take the time to ensure that the correct message is being sent, and that everyone knows what is expected. After all, you don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable on your big day!