Wedding Invitation Q&As

Composing wedding invitations involves complex-and beautiful-etiquette guidelines. We RSVP to your urgent questions.
By: 
Diane Forden, Editor-in-Chief

Bride's Family is Hosting

Q: How should the invitation be worded if the bride's family is paying?

A: Here is the traditional wording which lists the bride's parents as hosts:

Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Rogers
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Elizabeth
To
Gary Clark
etc.


Both Sets of Parents Are Hosting

Q: Both my and my fiancé's parents are hosting our wedding reception in November. How should our invitations be worded? —Quincy, Illinois

A: When the groom's family is co-hosting the wedding with the bride's, the invitation should read as follows:

 

Mr. and Mrs. John Sloan
and
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Smith
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Kaitlyn Sloan
and
Thomas Smith
on Saturday, November 27th, 2001
etc.

See our Invitation Wording Examples for handling other situations.

 

Bride's Parents, Groom's Parents, and the Couple Are Hosting

Q: We're paying for a significant chunk of our own wedding, but both families are also contributing. How do we word the invitation? 

A: To share billing amonst all three parties, here is the traditional wording:

Elizabeth Rogers
and
Gary Clark
together with their parents,
request the honour of your presence
etc.

 

Couple Hosting

Q: My fiancé and I are paying for our own wedding. Should the wording on our invitations reflect that? —Corpus Christi, Texas 

A: You have two choices. The first is:

Sarah Wilson Taylor
and
Marc Andrew Holmes
request the honour of your presence
at their marriage
Saturday, the nineteenth of October
two thousand and eight
at six o’ clock
(location)


Or, you can say:


The pleasure of your company
is requested at the marriage of
Sarah Wilson Taylor
to
Marc Andrew Holmes, etc.

 

Divorced Parents

Q: My divorced parents are both hosting my wedding, along with my stepfather, my mom’s husband. How should the invitations be worded to include all of them? —Walnut Creek, California

A: Your mom and stepfather should be listed first, followed by your dad:

Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Jones
and
Mr. Jonathan Rogers
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of
(your name), etc.

 

Deceased Parent(s)

Q: Even though my mother passed away when I was ten years old I would still like to include her name on my wedding invitation. Is this proper and, if so, how should the invitation be worded? —Tupelo, Arkansas

A: It's perfectly fine to include your mother's name on the invitation, as long as it does not appear is if it were being sent by her. Instead, you have two options: The invitation can be issued by you and your fiancé and read:

Together with their families,
Jennifer Drake,
daughter of John Drake and the late Barbara Drake,
and
Brian Connors,
son of Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Connors,
request the honour of your presence at their marriage,
etc.

Or you can opt for more traditional wording:

The honour of your presence is requested at the marriage of
Jennifer Drake,
daughter of John Drake and the late Barbara Drake,
to
Brian Connors,
son of Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Connors,
etc.

Many brides and grooms in your situation acknowledge a deceased mother (or other relative) on their wedding day with a loving tribute in the wedding program, a poem or reading recited in her memory at the ceremony, or a meaningful song played at the reception. The sentiment expressed in any of these gestures will not only contribute to the heartfelt emotions of the day but will also be recognized and appreciated by other family members and guests.

Q: My fiancé’s dad, girlfriend and grandparents are hosting our wedding. On my invitations I also want to include the names of my deceased mom, stepdad and father. How should the invitation be worded? —Atlanta, Georgia

A: You have quite a few names to mention, but I can certainly understand your wish to honor all your loved ones who have passed on. Your fiancé’s dad and girlfriend are on the first line, followed by his grandparents. Your mom and stepdad are listed below your name, followed by your father. Here’s how your invitation should read:

Mr. David Smith and Ms. Susan Jones
and
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Smith (grandparents)
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of
Andrea Wynnfield
daughter of
the late Mrs. Ann Blake and Mr. John Blake
and
the late Mr. Eric Wynnfield (your dad)
to
Robert Joseph Smith, etc.

 

Children Aren't Invited

Q: With the exception of three children from my immediate family, I only want to have adults at my reception. How can I let this be known without offending guests who have children? —Boulder, Colorado

A: Even though you plan to have children from your immediate family at your reception, your invited guests should not assume that their children may also attend. Inside the outer envelope of your invitation be sure to include an inner envelope with only your invited guests' names on it. You may also want to enclose a handwritten note to relatives and friends explaining that as much as you would love to invite their children, you simply cannot do so because of space or cost limitations. If you wish, mention that children will be most welcome to attend the ceremony. It's best to make certain, well before your wedding day, that all of your guests understand and will comply with your wishes.

 

Destination Wedding with Later Home Reception

Q: My fiancé and I are planning a destination wedding with only our immediate families in attendance. Upon our return, my parents will host a reception for our other relatives and friends. How should the invitation be worded? —Rutherford, New Jersey

A: It's certainly a nice gesture for your parents to host a dinner for the happy couple. I'm sure that those who weren't at the wedding will love having this opportunity to celebrate and wish them well. Here's one way to word the invites:

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown
invite you to join us
as we celebrate the

marriage of our daughter
Hillary
to
Liam Waterson
on Saturday, (date/time)
(location)

Another option:

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown
request the pleasure of your company
at a reception
in honor of
Mr. and Mrs. (your married name), etc.

If your choose not to be referred to as “Mr. and Mrs.,” then the invitation can read “at a reception to celebrate the marriage of (your name) and (your husband’s name).”

 

No Formal Sit-Dinner

Q: At our reception, we’ll be offering sandwiches and salads. How should we word the invitations so that our guests know not to expect a formal sit-down dinner? —St. Louis, Missouri

A: It’s smart—and considerate of you—to inform your guests about the type of meal they’ll be served so they can plan accordingly. On the invitation, after stating where the reception will be held, simply put "Light refreshments will be served." You and your fiancé can also spread the word to family members and friends beforehand.

 

Additional Weekend Activities

Q: We plan to hold a day-before barbecue and a post-wedding brunch during our weekend-long celebration. Is it OK to enclose the invitations to those events in our wedding invite? —Sarasota, Florida

A: Yes, it’s perfectly fine—and think of the money you’ll save on postage! If you plan to ask the same guests to the barbecue, wedding and brunch, then combine your pre- and post-wedding events on one invitation and enclose it with the wedding invitation. And you can make things even easier by using one RSVP card for all three events. Here’s an example:

Please respond by June 5th
M______________will attend the wedding
M______________will attend the barbecue
M______________will attend the brunch

 

Entrée Must Be Selected in Advance

Q: Is it appropriate to ask guests to select their main entrée in the wedding invitation? —Plainfield, New Jersey

A: Most couples arrange to have menu choices or special requests taken by the wait staff at the reception. However, if your caterer insists on knowing a count ahead of time, then the entrée options can be mentioned on the reply cards but not on the wedding invitation.


Bilingual Guests

Q: My fiancée and I are getting married in St. Petersburg, Russia. She is Russian, I am American. We will have both American and Russian guests. Is it okay to have the invitations written in both languages? If so, should they be separate or can they be on the same card, front and back holding different languages?

A: Not only would it be OK to have your wedding invitation written in both languages, it would also be a wonderful touch. Your guests will certainly appreciate your consideration. Check on the pricing, though. It may be more cost effective to have separate invitations rather than double printing on one. But I do like the idea of a single invite printed in both languages, one on each side — it will set the tone for a multicultural wedding that will undoubtedly be beautiful and unique. And, if you plan to have wedding programs, you should make these bilingual as well, especially if you incorporate traditions from both countries in your ceremony. Wedding programs written in English and Russian will help your guests understand and appreciate what's taking place and give them a greater sense of community and participation.

 

Inviting Guests to Reception Only

Q: My fiancé and I plan to have a small wedding ceremony with only our immediate families present. Afterwards, we’re inviting many guests to a country club reception. How should we word the invitations so that our reception guests will understand they’re not attending the ceremony? We don’t want to insult anyone but we do want our ceremony to be private. —Kingston, Ontario

A: You’re not alone. Many brides and grooms opt for a small, intimate ceremony followed by a large reception filled with other family members and friends. Since it’s a personal choice to have a very private ceremony, I doubt that the guests invited to your reception will feel slighted. In fact, they’ll probably look forward to a fun-filled party! But, if you’re in the least concerned, you could spread the word now about your decision so there are no surprises and, if you’re comfortable with the idea, consider videotaping the ceremony which you can then screen later on at the reception.

Invitations, if your parents are hosting the reception, should read as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Markham
request the pleasure of your company
at the wedding reception of their daughter
Suzanne Marie
and
Jonathan Paul Hollings
Saturday, the 26th of May
at six o’ clock
Arbor Hills Country Club
Kingston, Ontario

Include an R.S.V.P. with your address in the lower left-hand corner, or enclose a separate response card. For those intimates invited to the ceremony, include a separate ceremony card as well.

 

Inviting Dates of Guests to Reception Only

Q: The church where my fiancé and I plan to marry is very small. We both have large families and there just isn't room for extra people. How do we inform our single friends of our 'no date to the ceremony' policy even though they are more than welcome to bring dates to the reception? —Evans, Georgia

A: It's all in how you word your invitation. If only a certain number of people can be accommodated at the ceremony then your formal invitations should be sent to all guests inviting them just to the wedding reception. The wording would be:

Mr. and Mrs. James Flynn
request the pleasure of your company
at the wedding reception for their daughter
Sally Ann
and
Mr. Mark Wilmot
Saturday, the twelfth of August at six o'clock
(name the reception site and location)

To your single friends, be sure to write '… and Guest' on the inner envelope so they know dates are welcome at the reception. And for those also invited to the church ceremony, you can either extend the invitation orally or write a personal note to be sent separately or included in the formal invitations. That way, there should be no confusion.
 

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