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Etiquette Guide for Invitations

YOUR CELEBRATION INVITATIONS

Your invitation sets the tone for your event—not only does it say a lot about your personal style—it also guides your guests as to what to expect from your event, and even what to wear!

Wording Etiquette

Formal?  Contemporary? Whatever style you choose, etiquette is easy to observe when you follow some basic rules. 

Take a look at the templates on this website. Choose the category to find the perfect verse for your invitation.  If you do not find the exact wording you want, select an example that is close and change it to read exactly the way you want it to. If you are feeling creative, write your own.

Can’t decide on crisp block lettering, or calligraphy-style script?  Select a combination of typestyles to highlight your names within your wording for a unique look.  Or use the same typestyle in varying sizes to highlight names, date, and location. 

Remember, it is your celebration, customize your invitation to reflect your personality and spirit.  Most anything goes!

Formal Events

Always spell out full names, dates, times and addresses.  Nicknames or abbreviations should be avoided when possible except for Mr., Mrs., Jr., etc.  You may use an initial if you do not know the full name or if the person never uses his given name.  Cities, states, and numbered streets are written out in full. In regard to addresses, the only optional abbreviations are for Saint (St.) or Mount (Mt.), which can be written either way.

General wording dos and don’ts:

  • No periods (.) at the end of a line
  • First letter of each line is not capitalized unless it is a proper noun (for example, “Sunday, the fifth of October” is correct,  or, “on Sunday, the fifth of October” is correct
  • Time and date are written out (half after five o’clock, September first, two thousand and three; two thousand three is also correct and more formal)
  • Only events taking place in houses of worship would have the phrase  “the honour of your presence” used on the invitations.  Otherwise, it’s appropriate to use “request the pleasure of your company”

Casual Events

Although all the basic information that you communicate to your guests remains the same, an invitation that includes a personalized verse, favorite sonnet, or informal introduction gives your invitations a contemporary flair.

Announcements vs Invitations

Announcements should be used to let friends, family and possibly professional colleagues who were not invited to the wedding, for whatever reason—budget constraints, travel, etc--know that the wedding took place.  Invitations are sent to those people who the families want at the wedding.  This is when the versatility of “print your own” really works to your advantage--you can always add more at any time!

Addressing

Follow some basic rules for addressing your invitations:

  • Couples who live together receive a single invitation.  Address it the same way you’d address the invitation of a married couple with different last names—alphabetically, on separate lines of the envelope
  • Address an invitation to a married couple, both doctors like this:  The Doctors Smith.  It’s that simple.  If they are married, but have different last names, list both names in alphabetical order (on separate lines):  Dr. Benton, and on the next line, Dr. Smith
  • Married couple, one a doctor:  the spouse with the professional title is listed first.  Dr. Kate Lawler and Mr. Brian Lawler or Dr. and Mr. Lawler
  • A widow is traditionally addressed as “Mrs. John Smith”, but if you feel the guest may not want to be addressed that way, ask how she prefers to be addressed
  • A divorced woman who has kept her married name should be addressed as Ms.Jane Alden
  • A couple who does not live together technically should be sent their own invitation, but it’s not incorrect to simply send the invitation to the person you are closer to with both names listed alphabetically (each on its own line)
  • Same sex couple who have exchanged vows:  Ms. Joan McAllen  Ms. Teresa McAllen.  List Joan first, as “J” comes before “T” alphabetically.  If you do not want to use titles or put the two on separate lines, use Joan and Teresa McAllen

Mailing

Mail “Save the Date” cards to out-of-town guests as soon as your wedding date and location are set.  Including information about hotels now, instead of sending it with your invitations.  This will save you money on postage later, and give your guests time to arrange for a trip to attend your big event!  Mail invitations six to eightweeks before your wedding date.   If you have a large number of out-of-town guests, eight weeks will give them time to complete reservations and secure travel arrangements more economically. 

Date your response cards to be returned to you at least two weeks before your big day.

It is a good idea to have a return address on the back flap of your mailing envelope.  The return address should be that of the person whom you’ve designated to receive response cards—be it the bride’s mother, the groom’s mother, or the couple themselves.  The response card envelope should be printed with the same address.

There is nothing more frustrating than having a beautifully addressed invitation returned to sender with postage markings all over it because of an incorrect address.  Please be sure to double- check your addresses and zip codes.  To check zip codes online go to http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp.

Assemble one complete invitation, including any additional insertions, maps, and the stamp on the return response envelope and take it to your local post office for weight and measurement. Sometimes it is the size of the envelope and not the weight that determines the amount of postage, so we encourage you to take it to the window and have a postal worker weigh and measure it for you.

Request that the post office hand cancel your invitations.  This will eliminate any smeared or heavy ink marks that automated cancelling could cause.