Anatomy of an Invitation
HOST LINE - This is the line that typically denotes who is hosting, or paying for the bulk of the wedding. Traditionally, this was the bride’s parents. However, it is increasingly more common for couples to pay for their weddings themselves, or for the bride and groom’s parents to equally share in the cost. Other factors, such as whether the host(s) are married, divorced or remarried will also affect how this portion of the invitation is worded. See below for specific wording options.
REQUEST LINES - The request line usually indicates where the wedding will be held. Honour of your presence: (honour spelled in the British-style with a U) indicates a ceremony held in a house of worship / The pleasure of your company: indicates the ceremony is taking place at a secular location. When both sets of the couple's parents are hosting, this line would specify "at the marriage of their children."
BRIDE + GROOM LINES - The bride always precedes the groom. If her parents are hosting then she will be referred to by her first and middle names only. The groom is referred to by his first, middle and last name.
DATE + TIME LINES - The day of the week usually preceeds the date. Only the day of the week and the month are capitalized. Everything is written out in full, numbers are not used. Traditionally the first letter of the year is capitalized. No portion of the time line is ever capitalized. Time of day is spelled out using o’clock or half after xx o’clock. Evening begins at five o’clock, otherwise it is considered afternoon from noon until four o’clock.
LOCATION LINES - The street address is not usually necessary, unless the event is taking place at a private home or unlisted address. If it is included, street/avenue/road should be written out in full. City and state should always be written out with no abbreviations.
RECEPTION LINES - Especially formal or traditional invitations include this information on a separate card. Otherwise, the reception information can be included on the invitation if there is room. If the ceremony and reception will take place at the same location, you may print "and afterward at the reception" or "reception immediately following." When the reception is held elsewhere, the location goes on a second line.
A NOTE ABOUT CAPITALIZATION - Aside from proper nouns, only the day of the week, month and first letter of the year should be capitalized. More often, the first letter of the reception line is also being capitalized, though traditionally it is not.
To provide some guidance for your guests, it is appropriate to include a line in the bottom left or right corners of the wedding invitation specifying what type of attire is requested. Traditional examples include: Black tie - tuxedo or dinner suit for men, formal gown for ladies // Formal/Black tie optional - suit and tie for men, fancy dress for ladies // Semi-formal - suit and tie for men, cocktail dress for ladies // Cocktail attire- suit with tie optional for men, cocktail dress for ladies // Resort casual or beach chic - collared shirt and slacks for men, summer dress with sandals for ladies // Garden party attire - summer suit for men, summer dress for ladies. Only the first letter of this line is ever capitalized on the wedding invitation.
WHEN TO MAIL
The standard recommendation for mailing your letterpress wedding invitations is six to eight weeks in advance of the wedding. For destination affairs that require most guests to travel and book plane tickets, sending the invitation suite a bit earlier is often recommended, especially if a save the date is not sent out to guests beforehand. It is important to calculate your send date before placing an invitation order to ensure there is enough time for packaging the invitations and affixing stamps once you have received the suite.
THE BIG NO NO- REGISTRY
One item that should never be included on your letterpress wedding invitation is information as to where you and your fiancé will be registered. Both traditional and modern etiquette experts consider this one of the bigger faux-pas (oh my!) and it should be avoided if at all possible. So how do you provide this information to your guests? Traditionally, word of mouth was the way registries were shared with wedding guests, however, wedding websites are a more modern alternative that can be used to make this information both subtly and easily accessible. The bridal shower invitations are another appropriate place for this detail to be shared.
When assembling your invitation suite, it is most appropriate to stack the additional pieces in size order and place them on top of the invitation card. The envelope for the reply card should have the flap situated around the front of the reply card so these pieces do not get separated from each other. The entire set can then be secured by a ribbon or bellyband, though this is not necessary. Inner envelopes traditionally enclose the cards within the outer mailing envelope. For details on envelopes, visit our envelope etiquette page.