A Note About Etiquette
Like many long-standing traditions, weddings have a long list of things that “should” be done a particular way. While we are happy to advise on traditional wedding invitation etiquette, we believe that engaged couples should ultimately make their decisions based on what feels right to them as a couple. A wedding is an opportunity to express a couple’s personality, and the stationery is no exception!
Honour of your presence vs. Pleasure of your company
The phrase “request the honour of your presence” is traditionally used for a ceremony at a place of worship (church, synagogue, etc). “Request the pleasure of your company” is usually used for a ceremony taking place in a non-religious location (hotel ballroom, gardens, etc.).
Favor vs. Favour and Honor vs. Honour
Either spelling can be used, but be consistent with your usage. Traditionally the formal, British spelling with the “u” is preferred in proper wedding etiquette but whichever form you choose, use it in both words.
For a Roman Catholic wedding, the phrase “at the marriage of” may be expanded to “at the marriage in Christ of.” If the wedding ceremony will include a Mass, the phrase “your presence at the Nuptial (High) Mass” may be added.
Numbers in the date are spelled out, and also numerals one through twenty in street addresses should be spelled out. Numbers higher than twenty can be written in number form (e.g. 10524). Zip codes are not typically included on an invitation (plus most guests will probably use their GPS or navigation systems and do not need it).
Punctuation is not used at the ends of lines (commas, periods, colons, etc.). However, commas are used within lines to separate the day from the date, the city from the state, and a man’s surname from Jr./junior/II/III.
Since the abbreviations “a.m.” and “p.m.” should not be used, the phrases “in the morning” or “in the evening” can be used (if it’s likely there would be confusion). If it’s unlikely there would be confusion (a time such as five o’clock- most weddings would not begin at 5 a.m.!) you do not need to specify “in the afternoon”. The proper reference to a half hour is “half after,” not “half past.” So 7:30 would be written as “ half after seven o’clock”. Quarter hours are not typically used on a wedding invitation. Traditionally, times between 12 noon and 5:30 pm are considered the afternoon. 6:00 pm or later is considered the evening.
When writing the year, the tradition is to use the British wording (example: two thousand and ten) but it is also acceptable to use the American wording (two thousand ten). Whichever way you prefer, is fine!
Addresses on the Invitation
When listing the ceremony address, only the street address, city, and state should be listed. The zip code (or postal code) should not be listed on the invitation.
No abbreviations should be used on the invitation. Either spell out a name or leave it out: John Michael Smith or John Smith, never John M. Smith. Road, Street, Avenue, Reverend, Doctor, and all military titles should be spelled out. Exceptions are Mr. and Mrs. Many etiquette specialists prefer that Jr. be spelled out, as junior. When it is spelled out, the “j” is not capitalized.
Only proper nouns should be capitalized on the invitation (i.e. couple’s names, church name, etc). Also capitalize the beginning of a new sentence or thought, such as the “T” in “The favour of a reply is requested” or “R” in “Reception to follow”.
It is considered socially incorrect to write “no children please” or “Adults only reception” on the invitation or any part of the wedding ensemble. If you would prefer no children at the reception it is best to share that information by word of mouth before the wedding through your family members or members of the bridal party.
“Black tie” does not traditionally appear on the invitation. If the event takes place after six o’clock, your guests should assume that it is a formal event. However, if you are concerned about your guests being confused, you can write “Black tie” as a footnote on your reception card. The “B” in “Black tie” is capitalized, but not the “t.”
Mentioning Gifts or Registry Information
It is considered extremely socially incorrect to make any mention of gifts on invitations or in ANY part of your invitation suite, based on the theory that we should expect nothing from our friends except their presence. Never list your registry information, the name of a charity for donations, or your desire for money rather than presents. It is best to share this information word of mouth through family members or members of the bridal party.
If you are not using reception cards, you may include the information on the last line of the invitation: “Reception immediately following”, “Reception to follow” or “and afterwards at the reception.” This wording indicates that the reception will be held at the same place as the wedding. If the reception will be held at another location, you should consider ordering a separate reception card as invitation wording is limited to a certain number of lines.
R.s.v.p. is an abbreviation for the French phrase “Répondez s’il vous plaît” which means “Respond please”. Technically, only the “R” in “R.s.v.p.” is capitalized. Since the sentence means “please respond”, there’s no need to say “Please R.s.v.p.” as it would be redundant.
Listing Guest Names on the Envelopes
Emily Post has a fantastic, easy-to-read guide on how you should list your guest names on the envelopes (married vs. unmarried and living together, etc). Check it out here.