Over the last few decades, the formalities of wording your wedding invitations has changed, mostly because wedding invitations overall have changed! For ages, formal wedding invitations had a particular size, shape, and, for the most part, came in white or ivory with black ink. So, if you've been invited to a wedding recently, you know that this is no longer the norm.
Nowadays, wedding invitations come in every size, shape, and color, and because of this, the wording has changed considerably as well. In looking wording your wedding invitations, you want your theme and personality to come through. Your invitation for a casual beach wedding may look and be worded much differently than a formal black-tie wedding at a cathedral or five-star hotel.
With that being said, wedding invitations must contain these several essential things:
- The couple’s names.
- The date of the wedding.
- The location of the ceremony.
- The time of the ceremony.
- The location of the wedding reception.
These lines have changed more over the past few years than anything else. Traditionally, the parents of the bride hosted (and often paid for) the wedding, so the bride’s parents were usually listed as Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the honor of your presence. In some cases, especially for traditional Jewish weddings, both sets of parents were listed as many times the costs were divided.
However, with situations of couples paying for their own weddings, divorced parents, and even parents in same-sex relationships can change whether to extend the invitations from parents or the couple themselves. When hosting themselves or with more complicated situations, many couples choose not to list all of the parents and instead choose a style that reads:
"The Honor of your presence is requested at the wedding of...” followed by the couple’s names. Or, they might choose to list the parents’ names followed by, “along with their children."
Same-sex couples often choose to list their names in alphabetical order, but either partner can be listed first. There are no wrong answers. Same-sex couples who decide to list parents have the same flexible options as to who extends the invitation.
You’ll find phrases like, "The honor of your presence is requested," "the pleasure of your company," or "invite you to celebrate." In more formal situations, especially if the wedding ceremony is being held in a house of worship, you might see the more formal "honour" or "favour" being used instead.
The Date & Time
For most weddings, you'll find numerals spelled out such as, "On the twenty-fifth of July at half after six o’clock." The year is rarely used as most people assume the wedding is the upcoming date. A Save the Date well in advance of the wedding invitation will give wedding guests the long-range planning information. In the case of a casual wedding, you may see A.M. and P.M. as well as the time and date in numerals.
It's standard for the location of the wedding to read the city and state in which it's being held. But, in most cases, the street address isn’t necessary. However, if the wedding is at a private home, as opposed to a house of worship, hotel, or venue, you'll need to include an address.
A very formal wedding invitation may include a separate card with the time and location of the wedding reception. For most weddings, you'll find “reception to follow” at the bottom of the invite if the wedding ceremony and reception are being held at the same location. If the reception is in another location or is taking place much later in the day, you’ll want to include that information.
Regarding attire, there's an ongoing discussion around whether or not to include phrases like “Black Tie,” “Black Tie Optional,” or even “Cocktail Attire.” In most cases, it’s not that necessary because the formality of the wedding invitation and location will give guests a pretty good idea. For specific details such as the wedding being held on the beach and recommending flat shoes may be best left for a wedding website.
Hero photo courtesy of Whiskers & Willow Photography