All wedding invitations are made up of just a few important elements. Whether your event is going to be super traditional or more relaxed and casual, your invitation needs to include these main ingredients:
It’s actually very simple. The important thing is that the wording for your invitation will help set the tone for your wedding. It’ll help let your guests know that your event will be traditional or casual.
For example, if you’re having an elegant and traditional wedding at a church you could use wording like this:
"request the honour of your company” (“honor” indicates that it’s at a place of worship)
On the other hand, if you’re having a relaxed outdoor wedding you’d use more casual wording, something like this:
"with great joy we invite you to celebrate”
Now, let’s go a bit deeper on each of the main ingredients.
1 - who's hosting?
This is typically the first line of the wedding invitation and indicates who’s paying for the event.
It’s the section of the wedding invitation that I get the most questions about. How to word it can get a little confusing especially if you’re like I was and aren’t in a typical “traditional” situation where the bride’s parents are hosting and they’re still married.
Most couples these days are either paying for the wedding themselves, or hosting along with one or more of their parents. So I get tons of questions about how to word different scenarios.
Toward the bottom of this email I’ll provide a few examples. But first, let’s go over the rest of the ingredients.
2 – request to attend
This is the “invitation” part of the invitation. You need some wording that says “you’re invited!” although, for a wedding invitation, it’s not usually phrased exactly like that.
Unless your wedding is very casual, in which case, go for it!
In the intro, I gave some examples of this, but for fun, here’s some more:
“request the honor of your presence” (held in a place of worship)
“request the pleasure of your company” (secular)
“joyfully invite you to celebrate”
“cordially invite you to attend”
“with happy hearts we invite you to celebrate” - my favorite!
“please join us to celebrate”
I love dazzling guests with words (and design), and this is the section of the invitation, especially for more casual weddings, where you have a little room to make it your own. So pick words that’ll entertain and delight your guests in some way. This should be simple and subtle.
So, for example, “invite you to attend” is plain vanilla. “Joyfully invite you to attend” includes your emotion and makes a big difference in how your guests will perceive your wedding.
3 - names of the couple
The biggest thing to know here is that the brides name appears first on the invite. This is true for traditional and casual wedding invitations. Ladies first, always!
For same sex couples, you can do whichever way flows off the tongue better, or in alphabetical order, you get to decide. But if there’s one of you who’s parents are hosting, for wording purposes it’s best to put that person first.
George and Annette Taylor
request the pleasure of your company
at the wedding of their daughter
Q: "But do we use our full names? Or our first and last names, or…?"
Traditionally, if the brides parents are hosting, you would use the brides first and middle name and the grooms full name.
For a more casual wedding, and when the couple is hosting, I usually use their first and last names.
If you’d prefer to use your first and middle names, that’s great too!
For a casual wedding, I don’t really have a recommendation on how to write your names. It’s just your preference.
4 - date and time
Traditionally the date and time are spelled completely out. Like this:
Saturday, the fourth of September
two thousand and twenty
at four o’clock in the afternoon
For more casual wedding invitations, you can play with it a little (or a lot!). You still need to include the date, year and time, but you can be more relaxed about it.
Some of my most popular invitations are casual and have this format for the date and time:
at two o’clock in the afternoon
But something like this is also absolutely acceptable for casual invites:
5 - location
This one is pretty straight forward, with one faux pas to avoid.
For the location you will need to include the name of the venue, the city and the state. That’s all you need to include. If you’re having a backyard wedding, or if it’s at a location that could be confused with another place, you’ll need to include the street address as well.
Here’s some examples:
Willow Grove Cathedral
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Willow Grove Cathedral
1600 Cathedral Drive
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
The state is always spelled completely out for traditional weddings. For casual weddings you can use the abbreviated state, or spell it out. I just do whichever one looks better aesthetically with the design.
The thing to avoid: putting the zip code on the invitation.
Don’t do it!
Zip codes are only for the envelopes. But, if you really think it’s needed, you can include it on a directions enclosure card or your wedding website.
6 - reception to follow
I know I said that all these ingredients are required for all wedding invitations, but this is the one exception. You don’t have to add this part, but a lot of wedding invitations include a line or two about the reception at the bottom if it fits. For example:
“reception to follow”
“dinner and dancing to follow”
“merriment to follow”
If this wording doesn’t fit well onto the invitation, or if your reception is not at the same location as your ceremony, include a separate enclosure card for the reception details instead.
And I have one more note about the reception section. If you're not providing a meal, you'll want to let your guests know that in this section. Let them know what to expect after the ceremony. So you could use wording like this:
"refreshments to follow"
"cocktails and appetizers to follow"
the fun part: examples!
Okay, now that we’ve got all the ingredients together, let’s pour them all into the bowl and start mixing.
In response to some of the questions that I get, here’s some wording examples from my wedding invitation designs:
Q: “how do we phrase our wedding invitation if we’re the ones hosting?”
the honor of your presence
is requested at the wedding of
Friday the Twelfth of October
at four o'clock in the afternoon
2045 Herbertsville Road
Farmingdale, New York
cocktails, dinner and dancing to follow
Dr. and Mrs. Richard and Diane Rosario
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Scott Ivan Howes
Saturday, the eighteenth of April
two thousand and twenty
at five o'clock in the afternoon
Fellowship Baptist Church
reception to follow
Mr. and Mrs. Timothy and Patricia Conway
joyfully invite you to celebrate
the marriage of their daughter
Indian Spring Country Club
Boynton Beach, Florida
dinner and dancing to follow
There you go! Those are the most common scenarios for wedding invitations. I hope that one of these examples inspired you for the wording on your own wedding invitation.
about the author
Miriam Kokolo is the designer behind Fresh & Yummy Paperie. She's the mother of two young boys. When she's not designing wedding stationery, she's dancing around the house listening to Hanson music, making to-do lists, or watching Living Big in a Tiny House with her hubby.