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You know we love a pretty invitation suite, but we had no idea what all went into the wording! We sat down with Susan Potts, owner of Occasions Paper, to get a little invitation etiquette 101 to share with all our darling brides. If you have questions on whose names go where, how to address the invite, and everything in between, read on!

1. Does the bride or groom’s name go first on the invitation?  

The bride’s name is listed first on the invitation. Just remember, ladies first. Typically, the invitation is from the bride’s parents; therefore, the bride’s parents’ names are listed at the top inviting guests to the wedding for their daughter. The bride’s first and middle names are listed. The bride’s last name is not needed since her parents’ last name is already listed on the top line. In the event that the parents have a different last name, the bride’s last name will be listed. The groom’s first, middle and last name are all listed.

2. How would you word the invitation if the ceremony and reception are at different locations?  

When the ceremony and reception are at different locations, proper etiquette states that the reception information is sent on an insert card with the ceremony invitation. It will be on a smaller card with the address listed on the card.

3. How would you work the invitation if the bride’s family is funding the wedding?

The bride’s parents names are listed at the top of the invitation because they are inviting guests to their daughter’s wedding.  This implies that the brides parents are also paying for the wedding.  Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for the majority of the wedding expenses and the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner. With the rising cost of weddings, the lines may get a little blurred if the groom’s family is also helping with a chunk f the expenses. The groom’s parents are usually not listed on the invitation, however, some bride’s choose to list the groom’s parents on the invitation. If this is done, the groom’s parents are listed underneath the groom’s name as “son of Mr. and Mrs. ________.”

4.  What is the best way to tell my guests what type of attire to wear?

Many brides allow the invitation to set the tone for the wedding.  I have had bride’s say they “don’t care about the invitation because it just gets thrown away.”  I am a strong believer that the invitation sets the tone for the wedding. It is the first bit of information that guests receive about the big day. There is an option to set a dress code as black tie, white tie, semi-formal, beach formal, etc.  This dress code may be listed in the bottom right-hand corner of the invitation. Couples with a website, may want to elaborate on the dress code in a special section. While not all weddings need to have a dress code, guests might need to know if the reception will be on grass or sand for shoe choices. A formal invitation that is engraved or letterpressed would indicate a more formal clothing choice vs. an invitation that is flat printed. The font choice and paper choice also make a difference. I love to sit with brides and help them find the perfect invitation for their big day.

5. How do I inform my guests that I would not like children to attend?  

The addressing of the envelope is very important. The outer envelope should be addressed to the parents. If the children’s names are not listed on the outer or inner envelope, they are not invited. Avoid addressing with “and family” on the envelope. The “and family” opens up the door for all sorts of crazy relatives to be included. The problem may be that not everyone is up on this etiquette. This subject may want to be addressed on the couple’s website. The website could politely say that they are having an adults only reception. Reception card wording could also help with this dilemma. The reception card may be worded as “an adult reception will follow the ceremony.”  We are happy to help brides with the wording choice and addressing help for their invitations.

6.  Is it important to say who is hosting/funding the wedding on the invite?  

Typically, the hosts are listed at the top of the wedding invitation which implies who is paying. If the bride’s parents are paying, their names will be listed at the top “requesting the pleasure of your company” (or “the honor of your presence” if the ceremony is in a church). If the couple is paying for the wedding themselves, they would list the bride and groom’s full names and then “request the honor of your presence” (if in a church) at their wedding. If the funding gets to complicated, the invitation can omit the names at the top and just read “the pleasure of your company is requested at the marriage of…”  Again, this is why I love to sit and help with invitations. We are happy to help with the etiquette that can get a little tricky.

7. What is the proper way to address the envelope with a return address?

The return address should be on the back flap of the outer envelope.  No name is listed above the address on the back. The return address is where guests will mail gifts. Since the parents of the bride are often sending the invitations, their address is often used.

9.  Should I include RSVP cards/envelopes in my invite? 

I highly recommend sending reply cards and envelopes in your invitations. Weddings are expensive, and paying for guests that cannot come would be disappointing. Be sure to put a stamp on the envelope so that it is easy for guests to send the reply in a timely manner. Some brides choose to have guests reply online through a wedding website. If that route is preferred, a reply card is still needed, just no envelope. The couple should make sure that the website is easy for guests to use.

10. Where is the best place to list where we registered?

Registry information should NEVER be included in with the wedding invitations as it looks like you are asking for gifts. Registry locations should be told to the parents and close friends and let the information pass by word of mouth. Registry information may be added to the couple’s website, but never in a wedding invitation. For a bridal shower, registry information my be listed on an insert card. Since the purpose of a shower is to shower the couple with gifts, it is acceptable to include the registry information with shower invitations.
Other vendor credits:
Amanda Watson Photography, Traina Photography