Many years ago, my grandma gave me her copy of “Emily Post’s Etiquette,” from the 1950s, as a gift. She had inscribed the front cover with her maiden name, since she had clearly gotten the book as she worked through her own wedding invitation wording etiquette, and is the queen of manners and all things proper. The well-loved volume showed signs of wear and tear. I read it cover to cover, fully engrossed in it. It’s one of my most prized possessions and it sits on the top shelf of a bookcase at home, in a rightful place of honor. My friends know me as a sort of Miss Manners, or maybe the Grammar Police. Depends on the day. Nerd alert, but here we are.
Fast forward through two words-focused degrees and more nerdiness, and I am proud to be able to put this knowledge (and years of professional industry experience) to use designing wedding invitations for sweet couples. Your invitation is the first chance to love on your cherished guests. Don’t you want to make sure it’s correct? You’re inviting them to your wedding. You want them to feel loved, honored, and cared for – because they are. That’s why they made the cut in the first place! But how are you supposed to do that correctly? The titles, wording, address format, etiquette – it’s all so confusing.
In this blog, I’ll outline some suggestions about proper wedding invitation etiquette. Bonus – I developed a free download on this, too. In the freebie, I explain the old school, traditional elements, as well as ways to modernize these traditions, while still keeping your suite respectful and complete. Get yours here.
Mailing address formality
Your wedding invitation envelopes should be the first place to showcase the formality of what’s inside. What does this mean?
- Spell everything out – no abbreviations for states, road names, apartments, etc.
- Apartments go on their own line
- Don’t forget to list the country on its own line, if the recipient is not located in yours
Guest addressing etiquette
Make sure you’re sending the invitation to the correct person/people, addressed appropriately. Nobody wants to offend newly-widowed Great Aunt Sally, or your friend from college who just worked her tush off to become a doctor. Honor them with the correct setup for their envelope.
- Married couples: use titles, man’s first name only – unless the woman’s professional title outranks that of her husband
- Unmarried couples: don’t use “and” between their names, as this signifies marriage. Simply list their names on separate lines.
- Kids: the envelope can say “and Family,” or each child’s name on a separate line from their parents. For adult children, they traditionally should receive their own, separate invitation – even if they live at home.
- Miss, Ms. or Mrs.: there’s a whole list here, but do your best to be respectful of a woman’s name, whether she’s chosen to keep her maiden name in her marriage, if she’s divorced, or if she’s a widow.
I go into each of these – and other categories – in great detail with my free guide. Get your download here.
Wedding invitation wording etiquette
Your invitation is the carrier of all information about your big day. Regardless of your choices in the look of it, remember that it has all the important content for your guests that they’ll need to make it to the right place, at the right time, in the right outfit, to help celebrate with the two of you. Let’s make sure all the information is super clear for them!
No matter the format, your invitation must include the following elements:
- Who’s hosting?
- The request line
- Couple’s names
- Date, time, logistics – this should be the time and location for your ceremony
Aside from the basics, you’ll have some other considerations about what to include as part of your wedding invitation.
- Attire – not required to include, but helps set the tone for your guests’ experience
- Reception – if this is happening in the same place as your ceremony, a simple line with “reception to follow” on the main card is sufficient; if you’re hosting the ceremony and reception in different venues, use a reception card.
- Other elements, not to go on the main card – transportation logistics, website, information, added events, RSVP
- Please don’t put anything about your registry, gifts, anything of the sort anywhere on your invitation. It’s cringe-worthy and so tacky. Feel free to include your registry on the website, and direct guests to the wedding website, with the header, “For further information, please visit…”. Again, nothing about gifts anywhere on the invitation.
The level of formality is up to you and the vibe you want to have for your big day. However, keep everything consistent across the board. For example, if you’re using formal titles for one person’s parents, make sure you do the same for the other set!
To sum up, your wedding invitation wording etiquette is really important. It’s the first chance you have to show your guests how important they are to you, so make it count. As part of this, you’ll want to consider:
- Mailing address particulars
- Correct invitee addressing
- Complete and proper wording of the invitation itself
- An appropriate level of formality for your big day
To get a deep dive on all of these categories, along with my takes on how to modernize everything, get the free guide I’ve developed on it.
Get my free wording and etiquette guide!
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