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Wedding Invitation Etiquette

One definition of etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. At it's most elemental structure, etiquette is giving us a guideline to be courteous to each other. Being raised in the south by a mother who was a true southerner belle, etiquette was just a part of life. The awareness of the basics is an essential factor in wedding invitation etiquette. There are a lot of emotions while planning a wedding, so the more you can use basic emotionless guidelines, the better.

Addressing Invitations

Outer Envelopes:

  • Outer envelopes should be addressed conventionally using titles and full names (first, middle, and last).

  • Do not use middle initials. Either write out middle names (if known) or omit them.

  • All other words should be written out (Street, Avenue, Post Office Box, North, Apartment, etc.)

  • Proper etiquette indicates to write out the state name; nevertheless, the two-letter postal code abbreviation is also acceptable when dealing with limited space.

Inner Envelopes:

  • Inner envelopes display the title and last names of specific people invited. It is acceptable to write familiar names for family and close friends. Examples: Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Aunt Mary and Uncle Phil, Tom and Susan.

  • The names of children who are 18 years old and younger are written on separate lines below their parents' names.

  • The names of children who are 19 years old or older who still live at home with their parents should receive a separate invitation.

  • In the case when there is not an inner envelope, the children's names are written on the outer envelope below the names of their parents.

Invitation Wordin

  • The first line of the invitation is the name of who is hosting the wedding, whether the bride's parents (traditional), the bride and groom's parents, or the wedding couple.

  • The hosts' names should be written out and include middle names and titles. (Except for Mr. and Mrs., do not abbreviate titles, unless the name is too long to fit on one line. Examples: Doctor and Mrs. Albert James Ness; Sergeant and Mrs. James Lee Ford.)

  • The invitation line is where you directly invite your guests. When the wedding is held in a place of worship, "the honour of your presence" phrase is used. When held at other locations, "the pleasure of your company" is traditionally used.

  • The next lines list the names. Traditionally the bride's name is listed first. If the bride's last name is the same as her parents, include only her first and middle name.

  • The groom's name should be written out and preceded by his appropriate title. Examples: Mr. Steven David Smith; Doctor Grant William Hall.

  • The action line gives information about the reason for the invitation. If the hosts are the bride's parents, examples o f wording may be "At the celebration of their marriage" or "At the marriage of our daughter." You may have another phrase that you would prefer.

  • The information line includes time, date, and location. Write out the date and year. It is not necessary to use "and" in the year line. Example: two thousand seventeen. Capitalize the day of the week and the month, but not the year. The phrase "half after" should be used when indicating time, rather than "half past" or "-thirty." It is not necessary to use the phrases "in the afternoon" and "in the evening." The city and state should be written out. If all guests are local, the state may be omitted.

  • The last line is to give the information on what is to follow the ceremony, such as "Reception Admittedly Following," or you can include a Reception Card. You do not want to mention anything about gifts on the wedding invitation, so no information on your wedding registry.

Additional Tips

  • Use the names of all guests whenever possible. Using "and guest" isn't warm and friendly.

  • Get names, titles, and addresses correct when addressing. It's impressive and flattering! When in doubt, ask.

  • Invitation envelopes should always be handwritten. Printed labels are not acceptable. Consider hiring a calligrapher or enlisting the help of others if you feel overwhelmed. -

  • For reply cards, be sure to include a stamped addressed envelope for guests to mail to the host of the wedding.

  • Before sealing the outer envelope, make sure that the names on the inner and outer envelopes match. Take an assembled invitation to the post office and have it weighed to ensure proper postage. If invitations vary (e.g., one for local guests, another for out-of-town guests) have each variation weighed.

  • Mail all invitations at the same time. Don't wait to see how many will be attending from the first mailing before sending another. Estimate that 10 to 20 percent of invited guests will send regrets; doing this is so much better than using a standby guest list.


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