How To Word Your Wedding Invitations

A wedding invitation is traditionally made up of seven parts.

♥ Host Lines

♥ The Request to Attend

♥ Names of the Bride and Groom

♥ Date and Time

♥ Location

♥ Reception Announcement

♥ RSVP

This information can be presented in many different ways and styles, but when you are inviting people to your wedding, this is the main information that they will expect to be given. Below you will find a brief explanation of each of the seven parts as well as the etiquette on how to word each section.

♥ Host Lines

The traditional wedding invitation always listed the Bride's parents first, but traditions change and the makeup of today's family is vastly different from times gone by. These days, many couples are hosting their own weddings rather than having their parents foot the bill. Some couples want to honor their parents on the invitation regardless of who is paying for what. Here are some examples of how to word the first few lines of your wedding invitation:

bride's parents hosting 
 
 MR. AND MRS. DAVID CANNON 
 
divorced parents hosting, remarried 
 
    MR. AND MRS. ALAN BRANNON
              AND
       MR. DAVID CANNON
 
 
both sets of parents hosting 
 
   MR. AND MRS. DAVID CANNON
             AND
   MR. AND MRS. JOHN JOHNSON 
 
 
deceased parents - bride 
 
  DAUGHTER OF DAVID CANNON
  AND THE LATE CAROL CANNON 
 
 
bride and groom hosting
 
   KRISTINE RENEE CANNON
           AND
    BRANDON LEE JOHNSON 
 
 
parents and bride and groom 
 
  TOGETHER WITH THEIR PARENTS
     KRISINE RENEE CANNON
            AND
     BRANDON LEE JOHNSON 

 

The Request to Attend

After the initial host lines comes the official request. If a wedding is taking place in a church or place of worship, it is traditional to word the request:

REQUEST THE HONOUR OF YOUR PRESENCE

However, if the wedding ceremony is taking place in a venue other than a place of worship, you should say:

REQUEST THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY

Those are the traditional wordings, but if your event and your style is considerably less formal, you can create a less formal wording here, such as "INVITE YOU TO JOIN THEM" or "INVITE YOU TO THE CELEBRATION".

The request should be followed by an indication of the the host's relationship to the bride and groom. For example, if the parents of the bride are hosting the wedding, they would say "REQUEST THE HONOUR OF YOUR PRESENCE / AT THE WEDDING OF THEIR DAUGHTER". However, if both parents are hosting, you should put "REQUEST THE HONOUR OF YOUR PRESENCE / AT THE MARRIAGE OF THEIR CHILDREN".

Side Note: Honour, with a "u" is the traditional British spelling of the word Honor, and is typically used on formal wedding invitations. If you do not want to spell it the British way, it is perfectly acceptable to spell it "Honor".

Names of the Bride and Groom

Your wedding invitation should always list the Bride's name first, with the Groom's name following. Depending on the formality of the invitation, you can list only first names or you can opt for the full names of both Bride and Groom.

For the most traditional formal wedding invitation, the Bride's first and middle names are listed, followed by the full name and title of the groom. For example:

    THEIR DAUGHTER
    KRISTINE RENEE
          TO
MR. BRANDON LEE JOHNSON 

On an informal wedding invitation that will be sent out to a small group of family and friends, you can also simply say:

   KRISTINE
      TO
BRANDON JOHNSON 
 

If the bride and groom are the ones hosting the wedding, then their names are probably already listed on the host lines, and they do not need to be named again after the request lines.

Date and Time of the Wedding

On a formal invitation, everything is spelled out, including numbers, so the formal presentation of date and time might look like this:

SATURDAY, THE TWENTY-FIRST OF JULY
    TWO THOUSAND AND EIGHT
   AT HALF AFTER TWO O'CLOCK 

With a less formal invitation, it is perfectly fine to use regular numbers, like this:

 SATURDAY, JULY 21, 2008
 AT 2:30 IN THE AFTERNOON 
 
 

Location of the Wedding Ceremony

Most wedding invitations will include the name of the venue as well as the city and state where it is located. Usually there is no need for a specific address on the invitation, as directions and information about location probably has already been sent to guests via a website, email or "save the date" notice. If the event is being hosted at an individual's home, an address might be necessary to avoid confusion. Use your best judgment.

It is important to note that the city and state are spelled out in full. Here is an example:

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
   HAWKINSVILLE, GEORGIA 

Reception Announcement

If there is room at the bottom of the invitation, it is usually acceptable to add a couple of lines about the location of the Reception. However, a more formal option is to include a separate card for this information. If you choose to use a separate card, it only needs to be a small card that says, simply:

      RECEPTION
    THREE O'CLOCK 
THE HOME OF DAVID CANNON 

However, if you do have room to put this information on the invitation itself, you can just add a simple two lines at the bottom, such as:

AND AFTERWARD AT THE RECEPTION
  THE HOME OF DAVID CANNON
 

If your reception is going to be held at the same place as your wedding, then you can simply add a single line:

AND AFTERWARD AT THE RECEPTION 
 
or
 
RECEPTION IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING 

 

RSVP

The final element of a wedding invitation is the RSVP, if needed. An RSVP is a must-have if you are hosting a dinner where the caterer needs to be given a set head-count ahead of time. If you are just having a simple buffet of fresh fruit, punch and cake, then you might not need to have guests RSVP, but for receptions and weddings with a limited budget or limited space, I highly recommend adding an RSVP request.

The most common way to do this is to add a separate card to your invitation envelope for guests to fill out and return. If you are planning to serve a variety of entree's, you might also want to add a box for guests to check which they would prefer, such as Fish or Beef.

      M______________
 
    WILL ______ ATTEND
 
THE FAVOUR OF A REPLY IS REQUESTED
    BEFORE THE FIRST OF JULY 
 

Another option, if there is room, is to put the request at the bottom of the invitation. Traditionally, this request is found in the lower left-hand corner along with the address or phone number to contact with the RSVP.

     R.S.V.P. BY THE FIRST OF JULY
 
or, more formally,
 
  THE FAVOUR OF A REPLY IS REQUESTED
      BEFORE THE FIRST OF JULY 
 

As with the word "honour" above, it is totally your choice whether to use the British spelling "Favour" or the Americanized "Favor".

Putting it All Together

Now that you have decided on each of the seven most important aspects of your invitation wording, all you have to do is put it all together. Here are two examples.

EXAMPLE #1 - Bride's parents hosting at a place of worship with a recption at the church

EXAMPLE #2 - Both sets of parents hosting at the home of the Bride's parents with a Reception at that location

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