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
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
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,
BRIDE & GROOM
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?