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Wedding Invitation Wording Basics

Wedding Invitation Wording Basics

The language of wedding invitations conveys specific meaning, but many brides are unfamiliar with the nuances. Add to that the confusing array of family members in the contemporary family, the question of who is paying for the wedding, and other special situations, and it is no wonder that brides can get stumped trying to write their wedding invitations! Get it all sorted out by learning the basics of wedding invitation wording.

For generations, wedding invitations were worded in a fairly consistent manner, which made life easy for brides. The standard wedding invitation for a church goes as follows: 

Mr. and Mrs. Howard James

Request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Caroline Anne


Mr. Charles Young

Saturday, the fifth of June

Two thousand and eleven

at one o’clock in the afternoon

St. Andrew Church

Stamford, Connecticut 

A separate smaller card about half the size of the invitation is included which states: 

Reception immediately following the ceremony

Green Gables Country Club

Stamford, Connecticut


There are several things to know about this traditional form of wedding invitation, any of which you may adjust depending on your circumstances. If the wedding ceremony is to be held in a secular location, replace “the honour of your presence” with “the pleasure of your company”. If Caroline’s parents are divorced, their names would appear on two separate lines (with new spouses, if desired): Mr. and Mrs. Richard Keller (if the bride’s mom remarried Richard Keller and wants his name to appear) / Mr. Howard James or Mrs. Hillary Drake James (bride’s mom not remarried – Drake is her maiden name) / Mr. Howard James. If the bride has a different last name than either of her parents, it could be added to make sure that all the guests know who she is, so Caroline Anne James (especially if her father’s name does not appear on the invitation and her mother has a different last name).

Please note that the names of the bride’s parents on the invitations indicate that they are the hosts, not that they are paying for every last item, from soup to nuts to wedding jewelry. In these times when the groom’s parents take a more active role in the wedding (financial or not), the couple may wish to include their names as well. This is done in the European fashion, with the lines added under the groom’s name: Mr. Charles Young / son of / Mr. and Mrs. Davis Young.

If there are too many assorted sets of parents to fit on one invitation, the bride and groom are the hosts, or it is the bride’s second wedding, the names of the hosts are omitted. The invitation is issued in the third person like this: The pleasure of your company / is requested at / the marriage of / etc. etc. The rest remains the same. Also note that the R.s.v.p. is tied to the reception invitation, not the ceremony invitation. The form “R.s.v.p. tends to be more popular in the North, and in the South, the term “The favour of a reply is requested” tends to be preferred, but both are equally correct.

There are a few more basic things which you should know to write a traditional wedding invitation. If the ceremony will be a Catholic Mass, the line “at the marriage of…” is amended to “at the Nuptial Mass of…” In the case of either a Nuptial Mass or a Jewish wedding ceremony, the joining word “to” is replaced with “and”, as in the marriage of / Miss Caroline Anne / and / Mr. Charles Young.

It is a minor point, but significant in the way that the religion views the couple as being joined by God into a sacred union.

These are all the basics you need to know about traditional wedding invitation wording. Non-traditional invitations are not covered, because they tend not to follow custom and etiquette. Whether your wedding is formal or casual, the classic wedding invitation wording will always be appropriate and in good taste.