ETIQUETTE BASICS


Wedding Invitations    


Wedding Celebrations





Invitation Etiquette


You can never give too much notice

Save-the-date cards are typically mailed out three to four months prior to the wedding date. If by chance your guests are out-of-state and need to travel or book hotels, or if you are having a destination wedding – the earlier you can give notice the better. There is not a single guest that will complain about having TOO much time to plan. It is best to send your invitations six to eight weeks prior, with a request of reply for two to three weeks before the event, this will allow you to compile an accurate head count.

Clarity is key
It is easy to get carried away with the fun little details, but make sure all of the important information is included, double checking never hurts. Try to avoid confusion by making the pertinent information more prominent and as clear as possible. For save-the-date cards, the names of the couple getting married and the date should be the most prominent text. Also include a line that states that invitations will follow. An exact venue is not necessary, but a date and often a city name is thoughtful when sending cards to out-of-state guests. This is also a great place to share your wedding URL.

Short and sweet
Wedding invitations should include the full names of the marrying couple, those of the host(s) if they are different, the place and time, and that's it. Here are a few things to consider excluding all together; "no children," attire, registry information and the wedding URL. The guests will know exactly who is invited by the way you address the invitations. As far as attire and wedding URL, it is best to list all additional information on separate cards preferably save-the-date or reception cards. Registry information should not be printed at all and may be only listed on the wedding website. Traditionally registry information is spread by word-of-mouth from family and other wedding attendants.

Titles do matter
If an invited guest holds a title by all means address them accordingly. Doctor is most common title and following are a few examples of how it should be written. When the wife is a doctor you should write: "Doctor Susan and Mr. Augustine Moore." When the husband is a doctor, the titles appear as "Doctor and Mrs." and if both husband and wife are doctors, the envelope should read "Drs. Susan and Augustine Moore." A single woman (unless she's a doctor or holds a title) should be addressed as "Ms.' and if she's under 21 write "Miss". 

Avoid abbreviations
When you address the invitations, remember to spell it all out. "Street," "Post Office Box," and "Apartment" should all be written out in full. The same is applied to city and state, for example "Saint Louis," and "District of Columbia". Also spell out all house numbers that are smaller than 20. The only abbreviation exception is when addressing "Mr. and Mrs.".

Show your gratitude in a timely manner
The couple that is gracious together, stay together. Thank you notes should always be treated with a sense of urgency. A good rule of thumb is to write them as you receive the gifts and send them within two weeks. If notes of gratitude are delayed the appreciation loses a bit of genuineness. If someone has spent the effort to shop and purchase a gift for you, please sit down and spend five minutes composing a note of gratitude, it's simply good manners. It may not seem like an important step but it truly does matter. Thank you notes are not only part of good etiquette but one of the easiest things you can do to show appreciation. Also keep in mind, people often prefer a thoughtful handwritten note over a gift of thanks. back to top

Enclosures

 

Reception cards
When a reception is held at a venue other than the place of the ceremony a reception card allows you to list additional information, like the address. Reception cards can also list the time, appropriate attire and even parking information. Listing the specifics of attire is especially considerate for out-of-town guests, since they will pack their wardrobe in advance. Traditionally reception cards were enclosed when inviting certain guests to only the ceremony and select guests to the reception. Today if you were to invite guests to only the ceremony it would be considered impolite, it is one tradition that is quickly becoming a thing of the past. 

How to share your website information
Although it is not completely wrong to list your URL on your invitation, there are better ways to pass on the information. Save-the-date and reception cards are perfect for listing your website. Even a separate business-card size enclosure can be added if need be. If you happen to print your URL on the response card, keep in mind that the card will more than likely be sent back, and guests will not have it to reference. 

Map enclosures

Many people have access to map services as well as access to the web where they can find your wedding website and all of the details. If the address is clearly written on the invitation and if the place is not difficult to find, an additional printed map is not needed. However, if you are inviting guests from out-of-state and want to inform them about the neighborhood, places of interest or other fun information an edited map can be a charming addition. back to top

Proper Wording


What to include

Wording and arranging your invitations can be done in an innumerable amount of ways. All weddings are unique and you may choose to word your invitations in a way that reflects the formality or modesty of the event. Though there are certain customary elements that you should include; the host line, request line, bride and groom lines, date and time lines, location line, and potentially a reception and R.S.V.P. line (if not printed on separate cards). Keep these main elements in mind when deciding what to include in your wedding stationery.

Host line
Start with the names of those issuing the invitation, traditionally this would be the bride's parents. Due to ever evolving family structures and the dynamics of finance, the host line may prove to be the most difficult line to specify. If the bride's parents are hosting, the traditional format would be: 

"Mr. and Mrs. William Brewer"

OR if they have different surnames

"Ms. Marie Beager and Mr. William Brewer"

If the bride's parents are hosting and are divorced and remarried, you can list them on separate lines but remember to leave out the "and" which implies marriage, also remember to list the Mother first. The following is an example of a remarried set of parents hosting (where one is hosting the reception and the other is hosting the wedding). If you wish to stay completely traditional, leave out the step-parents names all together.

"Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Thompson
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of Mrs. Thompson's daughter..."


Then you may enclose a separate reception card to acknowledge the other host parents:

"Mr. and Mrs. Augustine Moore
request the pleasure of your company
immediately following the ceremony
at 1823 East Seventh Street, Kansas City"


If it is a wedding that is co-hosted by the groom's parents, add them after the bride's parents names. However if you'd simply like to mention the groom's parents, customarily you would list them after the grooms name, for example: 

"Michael Scott Baker
the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Baker"


If by chance the couple is hosting the wedding, you can omit the first line and list something more encompassing: 

"Together with their families Evelyn Marie and  John Matthew..."

this example is also great to use with mixed family structures.

​Request line
There are two phrases that are the most traditional when requesting the company of guests and the only difference is an indication of whether the ceremony will be held in a place of worship or not. At a place of worship: "Request the honor of your presence..." Informal ceremony: "Would be delighted by your presence at the marriage of..." Informal reception only: "Invite you to join them at the wedding reception of..."

Bride and Groom
The couple of honor should be the main attraction and their names are traditionally set off, on separate lines. The preposition linking them also goes on its own line, depending on your background or preference, the words "to" or "and" may be used. Traditionally if the bride's last name is the same as her parents' above, it is not repeated. Also no courtesy title is used, such as "Miss" or "Ms."

Time and place
When listing the time, do not worry about specifying a.m. or p.m. unless the wedding will be held at 8,9, or 10 o'clock. The year is traditionally omitted also, but can be included for the invitation's keepsake value. Traditionally all numerals are written out and all proper nouns are capitalized. You can always use numerals for a more modern feel, in the end it is what feels right to you. The location will be on its own line, and if it's a well-known location you can omit the street address, for example: "Saint Mary of The Angels Church, Chicago, Illinois" If you choose to use the street address, the numerals are okay to use but no ZIP code is needed; the invitation is not for mailing.

Reception and response
​If the ceremony and reception are in the same space, they can be written on a single invitation. If the reception is held elsewhere a separate card may be helpful to your guests, it also gives added space to include other details. If by chance the reception will or will not include a meal, it is best to specify on the reception card, to let the guests know whether to make dinner plans or not. When writing an R.S.V.P. line on the invitation, it goes on the lower left corner, you can also include the mailing address or contact information below. Today, brides usually include a separate card with a stamped envelope to encourage guests to respond to their invitation in a timely manner.  When printing a separate response card, a traditional fill-in-the-blank version provides the first letter of Mr. or Mrs.; you can also leave it as a single line, for example, "Please let us know if you will join us in celebration" with added space for writing. Always remember to list a response deadline and enough space for guests to write their names. (Smart tip: often people will send the response card back without writing their names-if you number your guest list and then lightly pencil the proper number on the back of each reply card before sending them off, you can easily keep track). back to top


Addressing Invitations


​When to send wedding invitations
Try to get all of the information together one month before your send-out date. A months time will allow some wiggle room for last minute edits to your guest list. It's best to send the wedding invitations six to eight weeks before the wedding, this will give your guests enough time to respond and it will be easier to compile a final headcount. Traditionally the envelopes are handwritten, today because of the growing availability of beautiful script fonts, to print the envelopes in a very elegant typeface is also acceptable and also more cost effective. Visit our custom envelope page for more information on addressing your envelopes.

Spell it all out
Your guests' names should be written out in full when addressing the invitations, also try to avoid the use of nicknames or initials. When printing the address and return address remember to avoid abbreviations and remember to spell out all street numbers that are less than 20. The preferred place for the printed return address is usually on the back flap of the envelope, visit our custom envelope page to view return address placement options.

Addressing the envelopes
When addressing the envelopes use exact names and proper titles for all of the invited. For the household guests, particularly children, address them with proper titles as well, for example; a boy under the age of 13 is "Master" not "Mr." and young women under the age of 18 are addressed as "Miss". When a guest will be bringing a date or an additional person as company, it is polite to write the guests' name followed by "and Guest", however if you know whom exactly your guest will be bringing it is more personal to include the person's name, on a separate line of course.

Invitation assembly
All enclosures should be printed in the same method as the invitation. Here is a simple order in which they should be stacked to go in the envelope. The invitation is on the bottom, print side up, then stack all of coordinating pieces (response and reception cards) on the invitation in order of size, with the smallest on the top. The reply card should be under its envelope's flap; this envelope should be preprinted with the mailing address and may also be pre-stamped. Insert everything into the inner envelope with the print side up, so that when the guests open the envelopes they will immediately see the lettering. back to top

Engagement Party


How soon should we have the engagement party?

Plan to have the engagement party no later than three months after the engagement. Traditionally, the bride's parents host the celebration, any other member of the family is also acceptable, but the party is not to be hosted by the couple themselves. If your parents live out of town and it's more practical for the groom's family to host, they may do so instead. Whom ever decides to host should be listed on the cards and should also issue them out. The cards should say that the event is being held in honor of you and your fiance, although they don't usually mention that it's in honor of your engagement (the guests will figure out the meaning of the event on their own). If the engagement is a surprise and is being announced at the party no name should be listed on the invitation, as it will likely give away the surprise. The invitations in the event of a surprise should read as though it's a simple gathering to enjoy the company of family and good friends.

Can we invite people to our engagement party who will not be invited to our wedding?
Although it is not in bad etiquette to invite guests who will not be on the final wedding guest list, you may be playing with fire if you do. If you choose to exclude certain guests, understand that by attending the engagement party guests may automatically assume they will attend the wedding as well. To avoid problems down the road keep the guest list as tight as possible. Since you may not have a final list for your wedding at the time of the engagement party, stick with close family and friends that will undoubtedly be guests at the wedding. back to top

Bridal Shower & Bridal Tea


Who should throw me a bridal shower?

These events are usually thrown by one or more friends of the bride. Since the purpose of the shower is to receive gifts, members of the immediate family should, if possible, not host. In larger groups there may a request by multiple friends or family members to host a shower, in the event of multiple showers make sure the guest lists are different (with the exception of immediate family) or if at all possible try to join the two into one celebration. Invitations to the bridal shower are usually informal and can have a theme. Popular bridal shower themes include; linens, kitchens or lingerie. For older brides, occasionally, the themes may include travel or gardening. Historically the bridal showers are reserved for first-time brides, the tradition however is changing as showers are now given for second-time brides, especially if there was not a shower before her first wedding. 

What is a Bridal Tea?
In some parts of the United States, particularly in the south, close friends of the bride may host teas in honor of the bride. A bridal tea is more formal than a shower and is a special occasion for the ladies on both sides of the family to get together and mingle over light snacks and good tea. The details are generally the same for the shower however the formalities are slightly different. Response cards are diligently sent along with the tea invitations and the event is reserved for "ladies only". The gifts are usually opened by one of the hostesses in another room, recorded and then displayed in the tea room for everyone to look at. This is a great time to really get to know the women of the family and to share details about the wedding and honeymoon. The bridal teas traditionally do not have a theme, although hosts usually try to keep with the bride's wedding colors. The invitations may mention that the tea is being given in the bride's honor and may also state the name of the fiance, announcing you're his "bride-elect." This event is typically given a month prior to your wedding. back to top


Rehearsal Dinner


Taken place the night before the Big Day, the rehearsal dinner is given as a courtesy to the bride's family. Hosted by the groom's parents or family, this dinner gives the bride's mother one less thing to be responsible for. Traditionally the rehearsal dinner was held for only the wedding party, however the party has since expanded to include spouses, dates and even out-of-town guests. Because the groom's parents will host the rehearsal dinner, they will also issue out the invitations. The formality of the dinner is usually determined by the formality of the wedding, remember, you wouldn't want the rehearsal dinner to outshine your wedding reception. For the invitations, similar to the save the date cards, the cards should simply compliment, but not match, your wedding stationery. Try to send the rehearsal dinner invitations 2 weeks before the wedding, though most wedding parties will know ahead of time, the invitations are more of a notice to the added extras that are not a part of the ceremony. back to top