An Overview of Wedding Invitation Etiquette

A wedding invitation is a printed letter that asks the recipient to attend a very personal affair. While it does not matter what style invitation you choose to use, whether it be traditional or modern, there are a few etiquette rules that should be followed. In past years, wedding invitations were only issued by the bride’s parents, who were incidentally paying for the entire wedding. It is important to note that as years have passed, and times have changed, etiquette has as changed slightly as well.

Traditionally, formal wedding invitations have always been on a white or ivory card, complete with black script. These days, many couples prefer to use different colored fonts and papers to further coordinate with their wedding theme. As far as etiquette goes, there are no firm rules when it comes to the style and design of the invitation, which you must follow. Rather, couples are encouraged to reflect their personalities, tastes, and wedding theme into a beautiful invitation that they can proudly send to their friends and family. Also a tradition of the past, it is no longer necessary to include tissue paper with your invitation package. In past years, the tissue paper was included to prevent the ink on the invitation from smudging.

It is very important that certain information be included in your wedding invitation. Along with both of your names and both of your parents’ names, you want to include the date and time of the ceremony and the exact location of where it is being held. If the reception that follows is being held at an alternate location, that location should be included as well on the invitation. Many couples choose to include directions in the invitation package, especially for the guests that are coming from out of town. A reply card, complete with a stamped and addressed return envelope, will ensure that your guests RSVP promptly. Proper etiquette encourages you to make a politely worded phone call to the guests who do not RSVP by the date given. Included in the invitation package can also be a menu card regarding the guests’ menu choice for dinner.

Other optional details include wording such as “no children” or “adult reception,” if you do not want any children attending your wedding. It is also acceptable to include guidelines on your invitation as to how your wedding guests should dress. Whether your affair will be black tie, business formal, or informal, you should consider including this information to ensure that your guests dress appropriately for the event. It is important, however, that your wedding invitations do not include any requests for gifts or any registry information.

In regards to addressing the envelopes of your wedding invitations, many couples wonder how to properly address the guests who are involved in non-traditional relationships. For example, if a couple is living together but are not married, they should still receive one invitation that is addressed to the both of them. Their names should appear in alphabetical order on the front of the envelope.

In another situation, if two of your guests are roommates, and not a couple, they should each receive their own invitations. If one of your wedding guests is single but plan on bringing a date, try to find out the date’s name in advance so that you may address them by properly on the envelope instead of as “guest.” A widow should be addressed as their married name, and children over eighteen that are still living with their parents should receive their own wedding invitation.

While many couples choose to use professionally designed and printed wedding invitations, another popular option is do it yourself invitations. Designing your own invitations is easier than you may think, and various web sites and software packages are available to assist you. Handmade invitations are personal and acceptable unless you are planning to have an ultra-formal wedding. A calligrapher or someone who possesses beautiful handwriting would be an ideal candidate for writing out these unique invitations.

If you are ordering your invitations from a retailer, it is very important to proof read and check everything before finalizing the order. You do not want to have your names misspelled, or to give your guests the wrong date or time.

When it comes to addressing the envelopes to your guests, you can either use printed address labels that sport the same font style and color found on the invitation, or you can choose to make your envelopes more formal and personal by handwriting the addresses. While this process can be somewhat time-consuming, if you enlist the services of friends, family, or a calligrapher, it can be done in no time. A general rule of thumb followed is that if you send out two hundred or more invitations, your envelopes can be addressed with printed labels that have a scripted font. If you are sending out invitations to less than two hundred people, strongly consider handwriting the envelopes.

It is very important to send your wedding invitations to your guest at the proper time. You do not want to wait to the last minute to send them out, when guests might already have plans. Ideally, invitations should be mailed out around three months before the actual wedding date. This will allow your guests to arrange to take time off of work and to make necessary travel arrangements. If you are requesting that your guests RSVP, you should ask them to do so by a specific date several weeks before the wedding. This will allow you to have an accurate head count for the caterer and venue.

About The Author

Lucinda Jones is a freelance writer who writes about weddings, usually focusing on a specific aspect of a wedding such as dyeable shoes.