Formal Wedding Invitation Wording: a Guide On Traditions and Etiquette in the UK
For many couples to be, the first big task is understanding the British traditions and requirements for formal wedding invitation wording. Once you’ve sent save-the-dates out and booked your venue, you’ll have to figure out not only who to invite but how too.
A wedding invite is a formal invitation asking your potential guests to attend the upcoming marriage normally sent around 4-8 weeks before the event. This gives guests enough time to plan ahead for the day and wedding venue for both day time and evening reception, enabling them to book accommodation if needed.
A wedding invitation is sent to guests that tell them when and where the ceremony and reception are, as well as who’s hosting the wedding. Traditionally, it was the bride’s family who would host (pay for) the wedding but these days there are other options like the couple paying for themselves or a combination of both families paying together.
The way you word your wedding invites is important. You have to acknowledge the host, include your loved ones and try not to offend any of the potential guests. Below are some guidelines that should be followed in order to ensure a smooth start for a new life with someone special.
Wedding invitation wording general rules
There are basic elements that are included in a wedding invitation and these include:
- The host line
- The request line
- The bride and groom
- The time and date
- Location line
- The information for reception
- RSVP details
The formal invitations use British Spelling such as the word ‘honour’ with the date, time and year fully spelt out. An example is “six o’clock in the evening” instead of “6:00 pm” and “two thousand twenty-two” instead of on “2022”
There is one line for each piece of information and there are no commas except between the wedding location and the city/town and county.
Ceremonies that are held in a church or Jewish synagogue should use the phrase “request the honour of your presence.” If it is hosted by a hotel, club or home instead, you can use less formal language such as “pleasure of your company”.
Casual weddings that happen on beaches and restaurants might reflect more about the personalities of bride and groom if guests are invited to “participate in the festivity of the wedding”.
It’s important to include names on wedding invitations, but it’s the order you include them that can cause a few issues. Below you’ll find several ways to address wedding invitations with the different situations involved for families.
Bride and Groom Line
Traditionally, a bride doesn’t use any title before her name; the groom can use “Mr.” if he chooses. It’s up to you whether or not the bride and groom use “Dr” if applicable.
You can remove the titles if the parents from each couple are going to be hosts.
Traditionally, the bride’s parents are responsible for hosting and inviting guests.
The groom’s parents can also be listed as hosts if they are contributing to the wedding day. The bride’s parents will be listed first.
It is customary to leave out the bride’s last name if the bride’s parents are hosting. However, the bride’s last name should be included if the groom’s parents are contributing.
If you’re paying for the wedding as a couple, it’s likely that your family will want to attend. If you’re planning on inviting your family, consider listing their names first. It’s a good idea to include their names together, so your invitation will be less cluttered.
The hosts should also include the groom’s parents, even if they are not the ones hosting the wedding.
The mother’s name appears first before the father’s name on separate lines if they are divorced parents.
If either one or both of the bride’s parents have remarried, you should only list the natural (birth or adoptive) parent(s). This is because they are usually there to give you away at the marriage ceremony. However, depending on what has happened to you and your family in the past few years it might be necessary for you to change the wording; such as if one of her stepparents raised her – you would want to include them too.
It is best to invite the guests yourself and include both the families names in the invitation, however, that may not be possible for a formal wedding.
Time and Date Lines
The day, date and year are important to spell out, but if you’re having a beach wedding or a destination wedding, then it might not be appropriate to say “half after five o’clock.
If the time of the day is not clear, write “in the morning” or “in the evening”. You don’t need to use am and pm so just use the hour when writing in the time.
You’ll need to spell out the whole name of the church where you holding your wedding ceremony. (e.g. “Saint Richards Church” instead of “St. Richards”). The only abbreviation you’ll be using in the invitation is RSVP
If you’re inviting out-of-town guests, you may want to include a street address for the landmarks or famous locations. Otherwise, just use the name of the well-known location (e.g. Goodwood Race Course)
Invitations do not use punctuation and instead rely on line breaks to replace commas. There are exceptions to the rule in the location line if you’re separating the city and county or if confusion could be caused.
If the ceremony and reception are in two different locations, make sure to include the ceremony location at the bottom of the invitations. You don’t need to repeat the location on the invite if the ceremony and reception are at the same place.
If you want to have only some of your guests at the reception, you will need to enclose a separate reception card. Make sure to list the time of the reception if it’s not straight after the ceremony.
Guests will need to send a reply for the formal invitations if “RSVP” is stated.
For more modern, informal weddings, RSVP is less of a must. You don’t need to worry about writing a formal letter to the hosts. Just enclose a response card with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Include a date by the time you would want a response. It will help give you a headcount which helps vendors such as the caterers so they know how much food to cook.
Postcard response cards and a good idea for informal wedding invitations.
Generally, your invitation should only include information about the location, time, and date. It’s not normally appropriate to include other information, such as the attire, in your invitation. The guests should be able to tell from the tone of the invite but they would appreciate it knowing what’s expected of them.
You can state what they can wear such as black tie optional, white tie, informal, semi-formal, cocktail wear or dressy casual.
Extra Information You’ll Need To Think About
Divorced and Remarried Parents
Your wedding invitation wording can be challenging because it is important to please all of your guests, including those families where parents are divorced and remarried.
The best thing to do would be to list your natural parent’s names only on separate lines. If a step-parent has been very important in the bride and grooms life then their name should be added next to their husband or wife on the same line.
Make sure to mention the mother’s name first or the fathers name if he is hosting the wedding. It is a respectful thing to do to keep the peace for everyone.
Each couple gets their own line if there are many remarried parents. You can also save space on your invitation you use “together with their parents” instead.
Parent or Parents who have passed away
If the host parent is unfortunately widowed, state the surviving parents’ name or their new married names.
The Different Name Titles
The traditional wedding invitation wording does not include a title unless the bride or groom is a doctor. If you choose to include a title, you should not use it with Mr., Mrs. or Ms.
- Military – The rank goes before the name e.g. Captain
- Clergy – The title goes before the name e.g. “Rabbi” or “The Reverend”
- Lawyer – The title appears after the surname e.g. “Esq”.
- Judge – The title goes before the judge’s name e.g. “The Honourable”
Some couples would rather want to arrange something simple and away from the traditional ceremony and reception wedding. Couples who elope or decide to get married at a Registrar’s office generally host a reception to celebrate their newly married bliss with their friends and family.
Wedding invitation wording examples
Annabel and Duncan
Please join us for the wedding of
Annabel Green and Duncan Heaver
Friday The 16th of September 2022
At half-past noon
Green Lane, Henfield, East Sussex
Reception to follow
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