5 etiquette guidelines for traditional wedding invitations

Written by Jackie Mangiolino

When it comes to formal, traditional wedding invitations, there are entire books written on etiquette, and I’ve read nearly all of them. As a traditional invitation designer and etiquette lover, it’s my job to know every obscure rule in the book.

However, as a couple planning to get married, you may be more focused on the look of your invitation, than on hidden code within the wording. But proper, formal invitation etiquette will tell the story of your wedding, so it’s important not to make a major faux pas. I mean, the invitation is the first thing a guest sees, so let’s leave a good impression, right?

Here are my top five etiquette guidelines and tips for creating successful traditional wedding invitations.

View The Anatomy of a Wedding Invitation in closer view here on the Minted Wedding Planning Guide.

1. Check the spelling.

Spelling mistakes are by far the absolute biggest, and most common, mistake I see. It’s also a costly mistake to have to fix (not to mention, embarrassing). As a designer, the fonts we work with are often not compatible with spell-check software. Without the ability to run a spell-check, it is important for couples to carefully proofread their invitations before printing. At the end of the day, it’s the couple’s responsibility to check for all spelling, especially details, such as the spelling of their names, family member names, and key information, like the time, date, or location.

“Fashion District” wedding invitation by Jill Means

2. Position the bride’s name first—unless there are two grooms.

As with most etiquette traditions, this stems from when the bride’s family hosted the wedding, and thus invited guests to witness the marriage of their daughter and her future husband. While hosting norms (and who pays) have evolved over the years, it’s still standard for the bride to be first on the invitation, and for her initial to be on the left/first for monograms. Of course, if you’re having a same-sex wedding, this rule can happily be thrown out the window, and you and your partner will decide which of you will be first.

3. Do not include the word “and” in the year or “at” before a time.

These are very common grammar mistakes that are essentially typos. Nobody wants a typo on a wedding invitation! Years are properly written as “two thousand nineteen.” Do not include “at” before a time—it’s considered redundant. The ceremony/start time should be written “five o’clock in the evening” and not “at five o’clock in the evening.”

4. Skip the venue street address and zip code.

The most proper way to write a location, such as a ceremony or reception venue, is to only include the city and state. The only time you’d want to include a street address is in the case that there are two or more venues, within the same city and state, with the same name. While this “rule” is often bypassed without major offense, it is absolutely improper, and considered a faux pas, to include a zip code on an invitation. Please, no zip codes.

5. Spell out numbers.

I know, this is a hard one if you’re drawn to design-forward invitations that beautifully display your wedding date as a number. But if proper etiquette is your priority, you would ALWAYS spell out numbers such as times and dates. With that, I can be flexible; if you have your heart set on a design that displays the wedding date itself, then go for it! But please, PLEASE, spell out the time! Like the previous mentioned zip code faux pas, writing “5:00 PM” is considered very improper, and should always be written as five o’clock. BONUS TIP: Anything after five o’clock is considered the evening, and anything before is the afternoon.

Lastly, HAVE FUN! There may be a lot of “rules” when it comes to weddings, but the most important thing to keep in mind is the marriage and life you’re building. I always tell my couples that it’s my job to know, guide, and share the proper etiquette rules, but if you want to break a rule here and there, that’s OK, too! (As long as you check your spelling and grammar, my rule-breaking leniency only goes so far).

Jackie Mangiolino is a font-aholic and creative director behind Sincerely, Jackie, the founder of The Everyday Mother, and a hopeless pizza junkie. She buys fonts the way most women buy shoes: in abundance and without telling my husband. Visit Jackie’s Minted Artist Store.

View more tips on Minted’s Wedding Planning Guide

Minted Wedding Invitation Wording & Etiquette

Published February 13, 2019

  1. Karen Glenn

    Great article, Jackie! Thanks for the helpful reminders 🙂

  2. Brandy

    Thank you for this! I just fixed my entries. : )


    Where’s the best place to include dress code?