Wording: Formal Wedding Invitations
In accordance with long-standing traditions, the following etiquette guidelines apply to the wording of formal wedding invitations.
Names and Spelling
- A wedding invitation is issued by the host(s). The hosts' name(s) are spelled out and include middle names and titles.
- Titles such as Mr. and Mrs. are not spelled out. Doctor should be spelled out, unless the name would be too long to fit on one line.
- The phrase "the honour of your presence" is used when the ceremony will take place in a house of worship. Honour is spelled with a "u" in the British fashion. For other venues "the pleasure of your company" is the traditional wording.
- If the bride shares her parents' last name, only her first and middle name are used.
- The groom's name is spelled out, and is preceded by a title. For example: Mr. Stephen Eugene Hall.
Time and Date
- The date is also spelled out, as is the year. Note that there is no "and": two thousand twenty-three.
- The day of the week and the month are capitalized; the year is not.
- Use the phrase "half after" when indicating time, rather than "half past" or "four-thirty."
- The phrases "in the afternoon" and "in the evening" are not necessary.
- Provide the city and state of the wedding location. The state is spelled in full, but may be omitted if all guests are local.
- "RSVP," which is an abbreviation of the French “Répondez, s’il vous plaît,” means "please respond." Each of the following usages is correct: RSVP, R.S.V.P., r.s.v.p., R.s.v.p. and "The favour of a reply is requested."
- RSVP is only used on reception invitations or combination wedding/reception invitations; it's not used on wedding-only invitations. When used, it goes on the lower left.
- RSVP on its own indicates that replies should be sent to the return address on the outer envelope of the invitation. If you want replies sent to a different postal address, or to include an email address or phone number as alternative methods for sending replies, add this information below the RSVP:
Essex Fells, New Jersey 07021
- RSVP isn't necessary if you're including stamped addressed reply cards unless you'd like to give your guests another way to respond, such as an email address or a phone number.
Details and Differences
- The wording for a Jewish wedding invitation differs only in that "and" is used instead of "to" between the bride and groom's names.
- When a Roman Catholic mass is part of the ceremony, invitations may include "and your participation in the offering of a Nuptial Mass" beneath the groom's name.
Don't mention gifts or attire on the wedding invitation. If necessary, "Black tie" may be written in the lower right on a reception invitation.
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For more information on wedding invitation etiquette, we recommend Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, 6th edition, by Anna Post and Lizzie Post. Released in 2014, this edition has new and expanded chapters on invitaiton wording, enclosures, and addressing. View our full line of wedding etiquette books.