Wedding invitations: the etiquette of wording

Being British, we love a good set of rules defining the right things to do around social occasions. Of course, a wedding invite is not exempt from the age-old rules of British etiquette. But in the 21st century, these old rules don’t always seem to fit, as I recently found out when designing wedding invitations for a friend’s nuptials.


What is traditional wedding invitation etiquette?

Invitations for weddings are always sent by whoever is hosting the wedding itself.  A traditional wedding invitation would contain wording like this:

Mr & Mrs E Buckingham

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Catherine Louisa to Dr Michael Edward Johnson

at St Mary’s Church, Oxford,

on Saturday 6th September 2014

at 1.30pm

and afterwards at The Royal Hotel.

RSVP: The Beeches, Lowington Road, Longfield, Oxfordshire.

However, in these modern times, the wording becomes a lot more complicated if parents are divorced and the old rules of wedding invitation etiquette don’t always apply or work. When I was designing my friend’s wedding invitations, the wording caused a bit of tension, to say the least. So here is my advice on 21st century wedding invitation etiquette – let’s bend some of those age-old rules and keep everyone in the family happy!


Polite modern approaches

If the bride's parents are divorced and her mother has remarried: Mr John Sinclair and Mrs Patrick Cook...

If the bride's parents are divorced but her mother hasn't remarried: Mr John Sinclair and Mrs Barbara Sinclair...

If the bride's parent has remarried and is hosting the wedding with the bride's stepfather or step mother: Mr and Mrs Patrick Cook request the pleasure of your company at the marriage…. (The bride's surname can be added if you think that would be helpful.)

If they are both divorced and remarried: Mr & Mr Thomas & Susan Graft and Mr & Mrs Nelson & Mary Weiss request the pleasure of your company…

If one parent is deceased you could use: The daughter of Jane Smith and the late Henry Smith…

Our ultimate solution is to name both sets of parents with this wording:  

The McIntoshes & The Kellys

request the pleasure of your company

at the wedding of

Eleanor & James

at St Catherine’s Church, Eskdale

on Wednesday 11th June 2014

at 2pm

And afterwards at Lakeland Hotel


Traditionally, guests used to contact the bride's mother to find out if there was a wedding gift list. Many brides now find it practical to include the details on a slip of paper with the wedding invitation. Many big gift list providers such as John Lewis and House of Fraser even provide cards to slip inside your invitations!


Why so formal?

Requesting the pleasure of someone’s company is very formal. While this may suit some couples, others will prefer a much more laid-back approach. Here’s some alternative wording, which still adheres to at least some traditional wedding etiquette:

-          Mr & Mrs Smith would be delighted if ....................................................... would join them to celebrate the wedding of….

-          Mr and Mrs Brown are delighted to finally give away their daughter, Jennifer, to Daniel. Come and celebrate at the reception we’ve waited a lifetime to throw…

-          He asked, and she said yes…or was it the other way around? However it happened, Darcy and Edward are getting married and Mrs & Mrs Kelly ask you to join them…


Rules are there to be broken

Alternatively you can break all traditional rules and go for something a bit quirky like these couples did:

Your love and friendship have

helped us become who we are.

Together with our parents,

we invite you to share our joy

and support our love,

as we exchange vows and

celebrate our marriage…..



Join us for our big day!

With joyous hearts,


invite you to attend

our wedding celebration…



No church, no aisle, no chairs…

just two crazy people in a field

vowing to each other a lifetime

of dirty jokes and random misadventures

please join us as we commit ourselves!

After all, thinking out of the box is never a bad thing – right? A more informal wedding invitation could set the tone for a more informal affair.


But there are some things that just need to be included

No matter how formal or informal the wording of your invitation ends up, there is some essential information that really needs to be included:

-          Names of the bride’s parents or other hosts

-          First name of the bride

-          First name and surname of the bridegroom and his title (Mr/Lieutenant/Sir etc)

-          Where the ceremony is taking place

-          Date, month and year of the wedding ceremony

-          Location of the wedding reception

-          Address to which guests should reply and a reply date


At printed, we love to be as helpful as possible, so if you have a wedding invitation dilemma, or just a wedding dilemma (we’re not picky), why not head over to The Wedding Stationers' Hub to ask for advice from other professionals now?





C Hiazos
27 Mar 2014 22:51
When it comes to wedding, I believe you should make it as personal as possible.

Its your day..... go wild
David Brookes
28 Mar 2014 09:33
I defo break the rules :-) Every wedding is unique
Alex Wilkie
28 Mar 2014 11:56
love it, in this day and age not everyone wants traditional, good alternatives here.
Karla Hall
28 Mar 2014 13:57
Very informative and interesting to see what different wording couples use on their wedding invites.
29 Mar 2014 16:50
Rules are made to be broken...
stunning wedding card
31 Mar 2014 08:35
wedding invitation is very important part of a wedding.It should follow certain rules.Thanks for sharing!!
sarah Roper
02 Apr 2014 13:07
This is great, I needed to work out the wording for our wedding invites, this is really helpful. Thanks
Elizabeth Cleverdon
07 Apr 2014 13:59
Thanks for writing that. I'll show it to my brides who can't decide what to say.
07 Apr 2014 18:27
Thanks I'll forward this on to my couples, great info
28 Apr 2014 21:29
Great info to pass on, I agree though - nothing wrong with breaking the rules!
26 Oct 2015 13:55
Love it ~ I much prefer the 'break the rules' approach!
28 Jul 2016 10:36
Wedding Invitations are the most important aspect of a wedding and it should follow proper wordings. This guide will really help us! Thanks for sharing!!
03 Apr 2017 12:10
Hey, amazing wording!! thank you for such a great writeup!. In wedding cards, creativity of the wordings do play an important role.

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