Wedding Planning Guide

wedding invitation wording & etiquette

Not sure how to word your wedding invitations? It might seem simple at first, but once you get started, you may realize that crafting the perfect wedding invitation wording can be a little tricky—there are etiquette rules to navigate and maybe a couple of sticky situations to figure out. But in a nutshell, the wording of your invitation should reflect the overall vibe of your wedding day. Ready to get started? We've compiled this guide to wedding invitation wording and etiquette right here.

The anatomy of an invitation.

WHAT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR WEDDING INVITATION

1

HOST LINE

The first line of the wedding invitation is where you list who’s hosting the wedding (a.k.a. who is paying for the wedding). Traditionally, this was usually the bride's parents, so listing their names on the host line was a way of acknowledging that generosity. These days, however, more and more couples are either paying for the wedding themselves (in this case, you can omit the host line entirely) or receiving financial contributions from parents on both sides—in this case, you can list all parents' names or opt for something simpler like, "Together with their parents" or "Together with their families."

The most important thing to keep in mind about the host line is to word it in a way that feels comfortable to you both as a couple. Here are a few rules to help you figure out the best host-line wording for your family dynamics:

  • The word “and” in between two names traditionally implies that those people are married.
  • If your parents are divorced and you want to include both as hosts, you can include them all, just keep each parent on a separate line.
  • If you're going to include the name of stepparent, keep it on the same line.
  • Hosts who are not married should be on separate lines.
  • Names should not listed in order of who paid more.
  • If you want to include the name of a parent who is deceased, you’ll need to rearrange things a bit, as someone who has passed can't actually serve as a host. A common way to honor a deceased parent is alongside a member of the couple’s name as “Olivia French, daughter of Susan French,” or “Olivia French, daughter of Michael French and the late Susan French."

Host Line Wording Examples:

One Set of Parents Hosting (Married)
Include your parents’ full names, with middle names (for very formal weddings), and never their initials. If they have different last names, write "and" to join the two names.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Michael Timothy Williams (very formal; includes middle name)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Michael Williams (formal)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Sarah Williams (formal; includes both first names)
  • Sarah and Michael Williams (less formal)

One Set of Parents Hosting (Divorced)
Include your mother's name first, followed by your father's name. Do not use "and" to connect the two names; rather, each name should get their own separate line.

  • Mrs. Josephine Hernandez
    Mr. Brian Walsh

Both Sets of Parents Hosting
For different-sex couples, list the bride’s parents’ names at the top of the invite, then the groom’s parents’ names. For same-sex couples, list the names according to preference or in the order that looks best with the invitation design.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Steven Wong and Mr. and Mrs. Adam Hollis (formal)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Darren Valenzuela with Mr. and Mrs. Warren Lee (formal)
  • James and Alisha Parrish together with Allan and Beatrice O'Rourke (less formal)

Couple is hosting with their families
When the couple and both of their families are contributing to the cost of the wedding, many choose to add a line such as “Together with their families” as the host line.

  • Together with their families
  • Together with our families
  • Together with their parents

Couple Is Hosting
If the couple is hosting the wedding themselves, you can skip the host line altogether or start the invitation wording with a warm and welcoming introduction, such as:

  • With open hearts
  • Together with full hearts
  • With great joy
2

REQUEST LINE

The request line is where you invite people to attend your wedding (a.k.a. "Please come!"), so use this section to set the tone for your celebration. If your wedding is formal, use more formal language to reflect the occasion (e.g., "request the honor of your presence…"); if your wedding is casual, use less formal language (e.g., "Would love for you to join them..." or "Want you to come party with us…"). Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • “The honor of your presence” is traditionally used to denote a religious service. Some couples opt to spell "honour" using the British spelling; both are correct but spelling it with a "u" evokes a more formal and traditional feel. (Note: If you're using "honour" on the invitation, we recommend matching it with "favour" as in "favour of your reply" on the RSVP card.)
  • "The pleasure of your company” (or variations on this) is used to denote a non-religious ceremony locale.

Request Line Wording Examples:

  • request the honor of your presence
  • request the honour of your presence (for formal, religious ceremonies)
  • request the pleasure of your company
  • cordially invite you to attend
  • would love for you to join them
  • would be delighted by your presence
  • invite you to celebrate with them
  • invite you to their wedding
  • joyfully request the pleasure of your company
  • invite you to celebrate their marriage
  • invite you to join them
  • invite you to the celebration of
  • invite you to share in the festivities
  • invite you to share in their joy
  • would love your presence
3

ACTION LINE

Here, you're outlining what you are inviting people to share in. Some examples:

  • Traditionally, with the bride’s parent’s hosting, this line is usually something like, “At the marriage of their daughter.”
  • If both parents are hosting, the line might read “At the marriage of their children."
  • If you're hosting yourselves, the line could be something like "At the celebration of their union" or "As they tie the knot.”

Action Line Wording Examples:

  • at the marriage of their daughter (if the bride's parents are hosting)
  • at the marriage of their children (if both sets of parents are hosting)
  • at the celebration of their union
  • as they tie the knot
  • as they say "I do!"
  • in celebration of their marriage
  • to celebrate their marriage
4

COUPLES' NAMES

This one might seem easy—that is, until you start thinking about the nitty-gritty details. Whose name goes first? Do you have to include last names? What about middle names? There really are no right or wrong answers, so do whatever feels most comfortable to you both, but here are a few suggestions:

  • For different-sex couples, the bride’s name typically goes first, followed by the groom's name. If the bride’s parents’ names are listed at the top, the bride’s name can just be her first and middle name (without last name), while the groom’s name is listed in full, or his first and middle names are listed, followed by the line “Son of Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Wong.”
  • For same-sex couples, you can list the names in alphabetical order by last name, or in the order you choose (or perhaps in the order that looks best with the invitation design).
  • For a less formal feel, you may opt to list first names only.
5

DATE & TIME

  • Traditionally, the date and time should be spelled out in full. For example, if your ceremony is on September 15, 2021, at 4:30 p.m., the wording should read, “Saturday, the fifteenth of September, two thousand twenty-one, at half after four in the afternoon.”
  • The day of the week and the month should be capitalized. The year should be lowercase.
  • There is no "and" when spelling out the year.
  • Time of day should be spelled out as "four o'clock" or "half after four o'clock." Note that "half after" is the most traditional way to indicate time. However, less formal invitations can use “half past four o'clock” or “four-thirty.”
  • Traditionally, there is no need to add phrases such as "in the afternoon" or "in the evening" unless the event takes place at times like 8, 9 or 10. You should then designate “in the morning” or “in the evening” for clarity. However, some stationery designers add these phrases to fill out a line to improve the overall look of the invite design. This is totally up to you and your designer.
  • Evening begins at five o’clock, otherwise it is considered afternoon from noon until four o’clock.
  • It's important to note that these formal date and time rules are frequently broken in more modern invitation designs, where the date and time are listed using numerals; using numerals is also preferred for more informal weddings.

Date & Time Wording Examples:

  • 4:00 p.m. can be spelled out as:
    • four o'clock (traditional)
    • four o'clock in the afternoon (also acceptable)
    • 4:00 p.m. (informal)
    • 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon (informal)
  • 4:30 p.m. can be spelled out as:
    • half after four o'clock (traditional)
    • half past four o'clock (also acceptable)
    • four-thirty in the afternoon (also acceptable)
    • 4:30 p.m. (informal)
    • 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon (informal)
  • 5:30 p.m. can be spelled out as:
    • half after five o'clock (traditional)
    • half past five o'clock (also acceptable)
    • five-thirty in the evening (also acceptable)
    • 5:30 p.m. (informal)
    • 5:30 p.m. in the evening (informal)
6

LOCATION

  • List the ceremony venue as follows: “Venue Name” on one line with “City, State” on the following line; for formal weddings, the state name is usually spelled out (instead of abbreviations).
  • The venue’s street address is traditionally not included (although you may decide to list it), unless it is a private residence.
  • Zip codes are not usually included.
7

RECEPTION LINE

This line lets your guests know what’s happening after the ceremony so they know what to expect.

  • If the reception will be at the same location as the ceremony, you can simply say, “Reception to follow” or “Dinner and dancing to follow.”
  • If the reception is at a different location, you can list the venue on the following line, or you may decide to include a separate insert card (called a reception card) inviting guests to the reception, with the venue’s full address.
  • If you’re not serving a full meal, this would be a great place to let guests know by saying something like, “Cake, punch, and merriment to follow” or "Join us after the ceremony for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and dancing."
  • You can also use this line to get creative and set the tone for the reception with something like, “Join us for an intimate dinner following…” or "Drinks, dancing, and shenanigans to follow."

Reception Line Wording Examples:

  • Reception to follow
  • Reception immediately following the ceremony
  • Dinner and dancing to follow
  • Cake, punch, and merriment to follow (if you're not serving a full meal)
  • Join us after the ceremony for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and dancing. (if you're not serving a full meal)
  • A dessert reception following the ceremony (if you're not serving a full meal)
  • The celebration continues with a reception
  • Join them for the reception celebration
  • An evening of celebrating to follow
  • A celebration with dinner, drinks, and dancing will follow
  • Join us for dinner, dancing, and celebrating
  • Fabulous food, fun, and festivities to follow
  • Dine, dance, celebrate…
  • Some dinner, some dancing, and all eternity to follow
  • Feasting and merriment to follow
  • Feasting and fun to follow
  • Dining, dancing, and happily ever after to follow
  • To share in our happiness, kindly join us for a dinner reception
  • Dinner and dancing under the stars
  • Shake, rattle and roll with us
  • Bring your dancing shoes! Dinner and music immediately following the ceremony.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

  • Dress code: Including a line about the wedding's dress code is optional but can be helpful for guests; however, if your wedding is black tie, you must include that on the invitation. If you don't include dress code information on the invitation, then guests will infer attire details based on the formality of the wedding invitation itself (i.e., if the invitation is very fancy, guests will likely anticipate a formal affair). The dress code line should be listed on a line following the reception location.
  • Wedding website: Typically you don't print your wedding website on the wedding invitation; rather, you should list it on one of the accompanying cards (like a reception card or additional information card). It's also a good idea to have already printed your wedding website URL on your save the date card.

WEDDING INVITATION WORDING EXAMPLES

Use these sample wedding invitation templates to figure out how to word your own. (Pro tip: Minted Design Associates can also help craft your copy so that the wedding invitation wording perfectly reflects your big day.)

Start here: Who's hosting the wedding?

Both Parents

Traditional | Religious

Held in a religious venue, hosted by both sets of parents

Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Stevens
And Mr. and Mrs. Luke Harrison
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Melissa Allison Stevens
to
Robert Thomas Harrison
Saturday the ninth of June
two thousand and eighteen
at five o’clock in the evening
Cathedral of Christ the King
Atlanta | Georgia

Traditional | Secular

Held in a secular location, hosted by both sets of parents

Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hunter
And Mr. and Mrs. George Temple
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their children
Alexandra Marie
to
Nathan Louis
Saturday, June 9th, twenty eighteen
at six o’clock in the evening
De Young Museum
San Francisco, California

Casual | Informal

Held in a casual location, hosted by both sets of parents

Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hunter
And Mr. and Mrs. George Temple
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their children
Morgan Elise
and
Michael Lavern
March 3, 2018
Adelaide Park | 234 Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, California

5:30 PM

The Bride’s Parents

Traditional | Religious

Held in a religious venue, hosted by the bride's parents

Mr. and Mrs. Sherman Stanley
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Taylor Marie
to
James Lee
Saturday, the sixteenth of June
twenty eighteen
at two o’clock in the afternoon
Saint Johns Church
Richmond, Virginia

Traditional | Secular

Held in a secular location, hosted by the bride's parents

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Salkin
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Jessie Salkin
to
Robin Huey
the twenty-third of August
two thousand and eighteen
six in the evening
Tavern on the Green
Central Park | New York

Casual | Informal

Held in a casual location, hosted by the bride's parents

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Daley
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Sydney
to
Elliot
April 7th, 2018
Foreign Cinema
San Francisco
5:30 PM

The Groom’s Parents

Traditional | Religious

Held in a religious venue, hosted by the groom's parents

Mr. and Mrs. Greg Thompson
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of
Analisa Cooper
to their son
Alex Thompson
Saturday, the ninth of July
Two thousand eighteen
At four o’clock in the afternoon
St. Ignatius Loyola Church
980 Park Avenue, New York

Traditional | Secular

Held in a secular location, hosted by the groom's parents

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Coppola
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of
Brooke Kennedy
to their son
Andrew Coppola
Saturday, the first of September
twenty eighteen
at five o’clock in the evening
Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards
Malibu, California

Casual | Informal

Held in a casual location, hosted by the groom's parents

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Donnelly
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of
Danielle
to their son
Carter
June second, 2018
Trou Normand
140 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco
5:30 PM

The Couple

Traditional | Religious

Held in a religious venue, hosted by the couple

Alex Clarkson
and
Emerson Smithfield
request the honor of your presence
at the celebration of their union
Saturday, the fifth of August
two thousand eighteen
at five o’clock in the evening
Mosaic Church
Austin, Texas

Traditional | Secular

Held in a secular location, hosted by the couple

Reese Kerrigan and Hunter Campden
request the pleasure of your company
at the celebration of their union
Saturday, August twenty-fifth
Two thousand eighteen
seven o’clock
The Four Seasons Plaza
St. Germain Road, Chicago
dinner and dancing to follow

Casual | Informal

Held in a casual location, hosted by the couple

Skyler Kline + Reed Pollock
request the pleasure of your company
at their wedding celebration
Saturday, the fifth of May, twenty eighteen
six in the evening
The Ace Hotel
Palm Springs, California

Both Families and The Couple

Traditional | Religious

Held in a religious venue, hosted by both families and the couple

Together with Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Rodríguez
and Mr. and Mrs. George Thompson
Gabriele Nicole Rodríguez
and
Micah Benjamin Thompson
request the honor of your presence
at the celebration of their union
Saturday, the twenty-sixth of May
Two thousand eighteen
at six o’clock in the evening
Saints Peter and Paul
San Francisco, California

Traditional | Secular

Held in a secular location, hosted by both families and the couple

Together with
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Finley
And Mr. and Mrs. George Billerman
Kennedy Finley
and
Ezra Billerman
request the pleasure of your company
at the celebration of their marriage
September 8th, 2018
at five o’clock in the evening
DeYoung Museum, San Francisco
RECEPTION TO FOLLOW

Casual | Informal

Held in a casual location, hosted by both families and the couple

Together with their parents
Ainsley Madison
&
Everett Archer
joyfully invite you to join
their wedding celebration
September 28th, 2018
at five o’clock
Desert Botanical Garden
Phoenix, Arizona
reception to follow

Special Cases

Divorced Parents

Formal and/or traditional weddings being held in a church and hosted by the divorced parents of the bride (include parents’ names on separate lines)

Ms. Elaine Robbins
Mr. Bradley Hunter
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Victoria Viane
to
Stanley Jameson
August twenty-first, twenty eighteen
at five o’clock in the afternoon
Lafayette Courtyard
Chicago, Illinois
reception to follow

Remarried Parents

You can use a similar format when one parent has remarried

Ms. Noelle Miller
Mr. and Mrs. Bradley Cartwright
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Skylar Grace
to
Gabriel Neal
Saturday, the tenth of June
two thousand and eighteen
at five o’clock in the evening
First Church
New Vernon, New Jersey
reception to follow

COMPLETING YOUR WEDDING INVITATION SUITE

Wondering what else to send with your wedding invitation? Our guide below outlines exactly what you'll need to include, along with wording suggestions for each card.

1 The Reformer

"Sense and Sensibility" invitation suite by Design Lotus

Photo: Anna Delores Photography

RSVP Card

Good news: Wording the RSVP card (also called the reply card or response card) is a simpler task than the invitation. Here's what you'll need to include:

  • RSVP date: The first piece of information on the card is the reply-by date, which is typically three to four weeks before the wedding. This will give you enough time to get a final head count to the caterer (one week before) and to finalize your seating chart.
    • Remember to keep the wording consistent with the invitation: For example, “the favor or a reply” typically matches the invitation wording “the honor of your presence.” For less formal wedding invitation wording, such as “request the pleasure of your company,” the RSVP wording would typically be “Kindly reply by” or “Kindly respond by.”
  • Guest(s) names: Next is a line for guests to write their names, along with checkboxes for accepting or declining the invitation.
    • The M line: The “M” line on the RSVP card is the place where guests will write in their names. The "M" itself is meant to designate the first letter of the formal salutation (Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms.), which the guest would write along with their name(s). The most traditional weddings might use the “M” line; for less formal celebrations, we suggest the more straightforward “Name(s)” instead.
  • Additional information you can include:
    • Meal choices may also be included on the reply card, along with checkboxes or illustrated icons.
    • It's becoming more popular to include a song request line, something along the lines of, “We promise to dance if you play __________.”
Formal RSVP

EXAMPLE: FORMAL RSVP

The favor of a reply is requested by the twentieth day of July

 [Insert Name(s)] 
  accepts with pleasure
  declines with regret

Conventional RSVP 1

EXAMPLE: LESS FORMAL RSVP

Please respond by the tenth of June

 [Insert Name(s)] 
  happily accepts
  regretfully declines

Conventional RSVP 2

EXAMPLE: RSVP WITH MEAL CHOICES

Please reply by March 22

M [Insert Name(s)] 
  will attend
  will not attend

Meal choices:
  beef
  chicken
  vegetarian

Reception Card

Reception Cards

If the ceremony and reception are held at the same venue, include the line “Reception to follow” at the bottom of the invitation. However, if the reception is held at a different location, it should be treated as a separate event—include a separate reception card with the event details as part of the invitation suite.

EXAMPLE: RECEPTION CARD

Please join us for an
evening reception
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 5:00pm
Dinner will be served at 6:00pm
The Cask Room
at the Hart House
5257 Deer Lake Avenue
dancing and merriment to follow

Activities Card

Activities Cards

Activities cards can be very helpful if your wedding has multiple events taking place during the wedding weekend. List all of the festivities guests open to guests in chronological order; Minted's Wedding Minibook Card™ is a great alternative to a flat card and features multiple pages to list wedding details for guests.

EXAMPLE: ACTIVITIES CARD

Activities
A wedded weekend

Friday
Meadowood Winery Tour | 1:00 pm | Please meet in the hotel lobby
Rehearsal Dinner | 7:00 pm | Meritage Resort | 875 Bordeaux Way

Saturday
Ladies Tea | 11:00 am | Churchill Tea Room | Please meet in the hotel lobby

Sunday
Farewell Brunch | 11:00 am | Bouchon Bistro | 6534 Washington Street

Information Card

Information Cards

An information card can be enclosed with your wedding invitation if you'd like to provide any additional wedding details to guests: directions, transportation information, lodging suggestions, etc.

EXAMPLE: INFORMATION CARD (WITH DIRECTIONS)

Directions

The nearest bus service is the B65 to Eastern Parkway and B45 to Washington Avenue. The following stops are about a 10-minute walk from one of the garden's entrances: The B65 to Eastern Parkway, B45 to Washington Avenue.

LIRR to Flatbush
Avenue/Atlantic Avenue Station | Connect with 2, 3, 4 or 5 train or B41 bus.

WEDDING INVITATION ETIQUETTE FAQs

As you can see, there are plenty of things to consider when it comes to writing and finalizing your wedding invitations. We've got the answers to all of your pressing wedding invitation etiquette questions below.


How do we let guests know we're having an adults-only wedding?

If you've decided not to invite kids to your wedding, here's our advice on how to let guests know (without hurting their feelings!).

  • Address your wedding invitations carefully. If you're doing formal invitations with both an outer mailing envelope and an inner envelope, list only the names of the invited adult guests on both the inner and outer envelopes. If you're sending outer envelopes only, only list the names of the invited adult guests. Do not write "The Smith Family," since that would indicate that all family members, including children, are invited. You can also write the names of each invited guest on the response card. This technique makes it very clear who is invited to the wedding and all your guests would need to do is check "will attend" or "will not attend."
  • Do not put "adults only" on the wedding invitation. Resist the urge to have this phrase printed on your invites because it might be a little jarring for some guests who might be sensitive to this. The more tactful, gentler way to spread the word is to encourage family members, wedding-party members, and friends to spread the word to other guests by mouth.
  • Do include it on your wedding website. Your wedding website is the perfect place to convey additional wedding details, such as keeping your wedding an adults-only event, links to your wedding registry, travel and transportation details, dress code, and recommended local babysitting services.

Where do you include information such as your wedding website and wedding registry?

Traditionally, it is not advised to include your wedding website URL and wedding registry information on the actual invitation itself. For your wedding website, we suggest including an additional insert card that lists the website details. If you're already including an insert card with travel information or additional wedding details, you can print the URL on the bottom of that card. As for registry details, you can include that information on your wedding website, with links to each online store, if possible, for added convenience.


Do you write guests' full names on the wedding invitations?

If following proper wedding invitation etiquette, yes. When you are addressing your invitation envelopes, you should spell their names out in full (title, first name, middle name (optional), and last name). Avoid using nicknames or initials. Be sure to use appropriate social titles as well, addressing married couples as "Mr. and Mrs." or "Mr. and Mr." For more on addressing your invitation envelopes, please see our in-depth guide to wedding envelopes and addressing.


When should our wedding invitations be sent out?

In order to send your wedding invitations in a timely fashion, aim to stick to the following timeline:

  • 4–5 months before the wedding: Order wedding invitations
  • 6–8 weeks before the wedding: Mail wedding invitations

If you're hosting a destination wedding or are tying the knot over a holiday weekend, you'll need to factor in more time so guests can make any necessary travel arrangements. Mail your wedding invitations three months ahead of time.


How much time should we give guests to RSVP for the wedding?

Set your RSVP deadline for three to four weeks before the wedding date. This timeframe will give you enough time to provide your caterer with a final head count, which is usually needed one week before the wedding. An accurate headcount will also allow you to finalize your wedding seating chart.

If some guests still have not responded by your RSVP deadline, give them a quick phone call to follow up.


Who should get a plus-one and who doesn't?

This is a tricky question, so be sure to tread carefully as you and your partner determine what makes the most sense for your wedding guest dynamics. Here are our general wedding etiquette rules on plus-ones and whether or not you should give guests the opportunity to bring a date to the wedding:

  • Married, engaged, and cohabitating guests should get a plus-one.
  • Wedding-party members (bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc.) should get a plus-one.
  • Guests who have been with their partner for a lengthy amount of time should get a plus-one. This, of course, is tricky. What constitutes a long enough period of time? While this varies for everyone, in general, our rule of thumb is that anyone who has been coupled up with their partner for so long that it would be awkward not to invite them should get a plus-one.
  • For everyone else, make a blanket rule, such as “only immediate family members can bring a date” and stick to it.