About the etiquette of invitation wording
Our sample invitations are a good guide for traditional and alternate wording but below are some common situations that can occur on your stationery and our suggestions for them. We rely on the Crane's Wedding Blue Book edited by Steven L. Feinberg (Dalton, Massachusetts: Crane & Co., 2002) for guidance about etiquette.
Proper Wording when the Invitation is issued by the bride's parents:
Married Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Joseph Miller
Divorced Parents: (Mrs. or Ms.) Evelyn Denise Church or Evelyn Denise Church
Mr. Thomas Joseph Miller Thomas Joseph Miller
"and" should not be used between the names as it implies that the names it joins are married
Bride's mother is a widow who has not remarried Mrs. Thomas Joseph Miller or Ms. Evelyn Denise Miller
A deceased parent cannot invite guests to an event. We suggest honoring the deceased in another location such as the wedding program.
Judge Judge and Mrs. Thomas Joseph Miller or Judge Evelyn Denise Miller
and Mr. Thomas Joseph Miller
"The Honorable" is a salutation by which other should refer to a Judge, but should not be bestowed upon oneself.
Clergy The Reverend and Mrs. Thomas Joseph Miller or The Reverend Evelyn Denise Miller
and Mr. Thomas Joseph Miller
Both are medical doctors Doctor Evelyn Denise Miller or The Doctors Miller
and Doctor Thomas Joseph Miller
Proper wording when the couple is issuing the invitation
Most Formal: Less Formal:
The honour of your presence Together with their parents/families
is requested at the marriage of Jennifer Louise White
Jennifer Louise White and
to Zachary David Ellis
Zachary David Ellis request the honour of your presence
at their marriage
The "honour of your presence" is the wording for inviting guests to a service in a house of worship. "Honor" is also appropriate but not as traditional. Alternately "at the Nuptial Mass uniting" may be used. In that situation line 5 would become "and" with an additional line after the Groom's name "in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony." The "pleasure of your company" is the wording for a ceremony, civil or religious, that does not take place within a house of worship (e.g. at a house, hotel, garden, etc.)
A title for the bride traditionally is not used. However, if a title, such as Doctor or Military rank is used, then the bride's full name would be used. When a military rank is used, the branch of service is designated on the next line.
Traditionally, a groom always had a title, either Mr., Doctor, or a military rank in the case of higher-ranking officers. Today, however, Mr. is often omitted. While we recommend using titles, we also recognize that aesthetic considerations such as the size of the letters for the names of the bride and groom may dictate not including a title. Navy Commanders and higher use their ranks before their names as do Captain or higher in the other service branches. The service branch would then be on the next line. "Esquire" is not appropriately used on an invitation as it is not recognized as a proper social title in the United States. Similarly, "Doctor" only should be used when someone is a medial doctor or a minister with an advanced degree. An academic setting, not a formal invitation, is the proper setting for a PhD to use the title "Doctor."
On the date line, the first letter is properly capitalized but may be left lower case. "And" in the date is optional though commonly included. "At half after..." is the appropriate wording for a wedding beginning 30 minutes after the hour. "Half past" is not traditionally accepted language on formal invitations.
Evening begins at six o'clock. It is inappropriate to term a time prior to that "in the evening." However, "in the evening," "in the afternoon" or "in the morning" do not have to be used. They are commonly used to provide length to the line or to reinforce to guests the level of formality of the wedding.
No initials or nicknames should be used; write out names or omit them. The only accepted abbreviations are for Mr. and Mrs.; Dr., Jr. and Sr. may be used if necessary. To be the most formal, "junior" and "senior" are spelled out with a lower case first letter preceded by a comma. A comma is not required to precede II, III, IV, etc...
Attire reminders (e.g. Black tie) are properly included on an invitation only when there is no reception card.
"R.s.v.p." is considered the correct abbreviation as it is the abbreviation of a sentence.
Typically a response date of two to three weeks prior to the wedding is appropriate. This timing should be confirmed with your caterer or planner.
When the ceremony and the reception are held in the same city, the city is not repeated with the reception information on either the invitation or the reception card.