Wedding Invitations

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The Invitational Line
The Groom’s Name
Joining Word
Request Line
Location
Street Address
Time
Year
City & State
Personalized Invitations

The Invitational Line

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The tradition of the bride’s parents sending out the wedding invitations (along with the tradition of the bride’s father giving away the bride) have their origins in the days when the bride’s father made the marriage arrangements for his daughter by negotiating the size of her dowry.

Today, the traditions continue with the bride’s family customarily hosting the wedding. But it’s not as easy as “Mr. and Mrs.”

How to present who is issuing the wedding invitations can be complex, which is why we have an entire section dedicated to the Invitational Line.

The Groom’s Name

He may not have had his attire for his wedding picked out since elementary school, but it is indeed the groom’s day as much as the bride’s. Therefore, as much thought should be put into his name on the invitation as anything else.

The groom always uses his full name, preceded by his title. There are no abbreviations, except for “Mr.” All other titles, such as “Doctor” and “The Reverend”, should be written out, although “Doctor” may be abbreviated when used with a long name. If “Doctor” is used more than once on an invitation, its use should be consistent. If it’s necessary to abbreviate it with one of the names, it should be abbreviated with all names.

Initials should not appear on formal wedding invitations. Men who dislike their middle names and use their middle initial instead should be discouraged from doing so. If your fiancé refuses to use his middle name, it’s better to omit his middle name entirely than to use just his initial.

Can “junior” be abbreviated or must it be spelled out?
Properly, “junior” is written out. Abbreviating “junior” to “Jr.” is less formal but still acceptable. When written out, a lowercase j is used. When abbreviated, the J is capitalized. The abbreviation is commonly used when the groom has an exceptionally long name. A comma always precedes “junior,” whether written out or abbreviated.

My fiancé is a “junior.” His father, however, has passed away. Does my fiancé continue to use “junior”?
Since your fiancé and his father shared the same last name, your fiancé used “junior” to distinguish himself from his father. Now that his father has passed away, he no longer needs to use “junior” and may drop it from his name. Of course, if either your fiancé or his father was a well-known public or private figure, your fiancé would continue to use “junior” to avoid any confusion.

When are “II” and “III” properly used?
Although it may seem as though “junior” and “II” can be used interchangeably, they are actually different designations. “Junior” is used by a man whose father has the same name as him, whereas “II” is used by a man who has the same name as the older relative (usually a grandfather) other than the father. The “III” is used by the namesake of a man using “junior” or “II.” When used on an invitation, a comma usually precedes the “II” or “III.” Some men prefer to omit the comma. Either way is correct.

My fiancé is a doctor. Does his title appear on our invitations?
Medical doctors properly use their professional titles on wedding invitations, whereas Ph.D.’s do not. Medical degrees, such as M.D. or D.D.S., are never mentioned. They are professional designations that don’t belong on a social invitation. Their use should be reserved for business cards and professional letterheads.

My fiancé is a lawyer. May he use “esquire”?
While some lawyers have adopted “esquire” as a title to designate their status as attorneys, “esquire” is not recognized as a proper title for social invitations in the United States. In England, the title means “gentleman” and is used to honor a man when addressing him. For a man to bestow that designation upon himself is presumptuous and not in good taste.

My fiancé is known by his nickname. Since none of our friends know his real name, would it be appropriate to put his nickname in parentheses?
Nicknames are never properly used on traditional wedding invitations. The names on your fiancé’s birth certificate should be used.

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Joining Word

The joining word is the word that joins the names of the bride and groom. The preposition “to” is used on invitations to the wedding ceremony, as the bride is traditionally married to the groom.

The conjunction “and” is used on invitations to the reception, since the reception is given in honor of the bride and groom. “And” is also used on Jewish wedding invitations and on invitations issued by the bride and groom.

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Request Line

The request lines invite your guests to your wedding. The wording varies according to where the wedding is being held. The correct wording for a wedding held in a church, temple, synagogue or any house of worship is “request the honour of your presence.” The word “honour” is used to show deference to God whenever a wedding is held in a house of worship. For weddings held in any location other than a house of worship, “request the pleasure of your company” is used.

Which is more formal: “request the honour of your presence” or “request the pleasure of your company”?
Both phrases are equally formal. They are just used under different circumstances.

What is the correct spelling of “honor”?
Both “honour” and “honor” are correct. It’s a matter of personal preference, although most brides prefer the English spelling, “honour.”

My wedding is being held at home and is a religious ceremony. May I use “request the honour of your presence”?
The use of “request the honour of your presence” is reserved for weddings held on sanctified ground, so it’s not properly used for a wedding held at home.

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Location

A vintage barn. The country club. Tuscany. Wedding ceremonies are held at a variety of locations, and the location line tells your guests the name of the location at which your wedding is being held.

The full name of the facility is always given; so the location line for the wedding held at a church, for example, uses the full corporate name of the church. There should be no abbreviations. “Saint” is always spelled out. Likewise, a church commonly referred to as “Saint Matthew’s Church” might actually be “Church of Saint Matthew” or “Saint Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church.” You should check with a clergyman or the church secretary to confirm the correct name.

My parents are hosting my wedding at home. How is that indicated?
The location given is simply your parents’ address. Since your wedding is taking place outside a house of worship, “request the pleasure of your company” is used.

We’re having a garden wedding at my parents’ home. Should our invitations indicate it will be a garden wedding?
It’s always helpful to mention that the wedding will be a garden wedding to ensure your guests wear appropriate footwear. A line reading “in the garden” appears above your parents’ address.

Our wedding is being held at a friend’s house. How does the location line read?
Your friend’s name and address are shown at the end of the invitation.

How do we let our guests know of our contingency plans in case of rain?
One of the risks involved in having an outdoor wedding is uncertain weather conditions. You may enclose a small card with your invitations reading “In case of inclement weather / the wedding will be held at / Sleepy Hollow Country Club / Scarborough.”

Of course, all of your guests will have different definitions of inclement weather. A cloudy wedding day may produce a very large number of phone calls. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, a tent would be a much wiser investment than a bad-weather enclosed card.

Our wedding is being held in a small chapel at the Church of Christ. How do I indicate this?
The name of the chapel may be given on the line directly above the name of the church.

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Street Address

The accepted rule on using the street address is that its inclusion is optional — unless there’s more than one facility with that name in that town, in which case it’s mandatory. The street address is also used when the facility is not well known or when there are a number of out-of-town guests.

Since giving the street address is an additional courtesy to your guests, it’s almost always proper. The only time its use is not proper is when directions and map cards are used (which makes the street address redundant).

Including the street address, however, adds an extra line to the invitation. Most invitations, especially those engraved in script lettering styles, look better with fewer lines of copy. So consider the aesthetics before you decide to include the address.

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Time

An old superstition claims that being married on the half hour brings good fortune because the minute hand is ascending toward heaven, while being married on the hour leads to a bad marriage since, as with the minute hand, it’s all downhill from there.

We like to think the only time that matters, however, is that which a couple spends together. Even at quarter ‘til.

As for how and where the time of the wedding is presented on the invitation, it should appear on one line and with all letters in lowercase. If your wedding is being held at six o’clock, the time line simply reads, “at six o’clock.” The time line for weddings held at six thirty reads, “at half after six o’clock.”

The time line can designate the time of day by using either “in the morning,” “in the afternoon” or “in the evening.” For most times it’s not usually necessary, since a wedding held at six o’clock is obviously being held in the evening.

Weddings held at eight, nine or ten o’clock are another matter, since they could be held in either the morning or evening. In those cases, a designation denoting the time of day is helpful.

In any event, you may always include the time of day if you find it aesthetically pleasing, and most older, traditional invitations do include it.

My wedding is being held at noon. Should my invitations read “at twelve o’clock noon”?
Your invitations should simply read, “at twelve o’clock.” Unless otherwise noted, “twelve o’clock” means “noon.” If you feel strongly about indicating the time of day, you may use, “at twelve o’clock in the afternoon.”

I’m being married at 6:45. How should this be read?
The correct wording for 6:45 is “at three quarters after six o’clock.” Although correct, the wording may appear awkward to many people, so it might be a good idea to change the time of your wedding to six-thirty or seven o’clock.

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Year

Since wedding invitations are sent four to six weeks before the wedding, it’s not necessary to include the year. Your guests will assume the invitation is for the next August 23rd and not for some other August 23rd in the distant future.

Although it’s not necessary to include the year, it’s not improper to do so. Your invitations will, undoubtedly, be saved by family and friends as a remembrance and may even be passed down to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Including the year on your invitation will help your descendants remember your wedding day.

What should I take into consideration when deciding whether or not to include the year?
Many lettering styles, especially some of the script lettering styles, look better with fewer lines of copy. Additional lines might make your invitation look too cluttered.

Also, the year line is a long, heavy line that follows two other heavy lines (the groom’s name and the date). This creates a lot of weight in that part of the invitation, which can draw your eye there instead of to the names of the bride and groom, where it should be drawn.

Wedding announcements, on the other hand, are sent after the wedding has taken place. Therefore, it’s necessary to include the year; otherwise it could be assumed that your wedding took place on any August 23rd in the past.

Should the T in “two thousand” be upper or lowercase?
Although both ways are proper and many older invitations use all lowercase letters on the year line, almost all invitations nowadays capitalize the first letter. This usage is so common that to use lowercase might make it look as though your stationer forgot to capitalize the first letter. Furthermore, your invitations will look more polished if the first letter of the year is capitalized.

Isn’t it incorrect to use “and,” as in “Two thousand and one”?
In mathematics “and” denotes a decimal point, and since there’s no decimal point in the year “2001,” it may seem incorrect to use “and.”

Wedding invitations, however, are not mathematical equations, so the use of “and” as a decimal point is irrelevant. On wedding invitations, “and” is used simply as a connective word.

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City & State

The last line in the main body of the invitation shows the names of the city and state in which your wedding is being held. Both city and state are included, separated by a comma.

Two exceptions to this rule are New York City and Washington, D.C. For weddings held in New York, “New York City” or just “New York” are used, since “New York, New York” seems redundant. The city and state line for weddings held in Washington, D.C., can read “City of Washington” or “Washington, District of Columbia.”

Personalized Invitations

The most formal wedding invitations are personalized. Personalized invitations are not only elegant, but also honor your guests by showing you care enough to make their names a part of your wedding invitations.

Your guests’ names are handwritten in black ink in a space reserved for them on the invitations. The handwriting on the invitations should match the handwriting used to address the envelopes. As on the mailing envelopes, your guests’ full names and social titles are used. If you don’t know a guest’s middle name, omit it.

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