Etiquette is defined as “the practices prescribed by social convention”, so it follows that the etiquette for wedding invites include the traditions we follow to conform with social conventions.
Who cares about etiquette?
Well we probably all do, as most of us care what people think. Even if we don’t want to follow the traditional way of doing things, it’s good to know how far we are straying from the norm.
What is traditional?
Formal wedding invitations are typically printed on white or ivory card of a heavy weight, if the wedding is a black tie event, it follows that the wedding invitations will be dark text in a classic font in a conventional layout. Less formal wedding invitations can include more colour and contemporary fonts.
The wedding invitation is the introduction to your wedding, the style and quality you choose is the first impression your guests will receive and hint at what is to follow.
Traditionally, only names and places are capitalised and the full address is not shown, only the venue name and town, the full address is usually include on an additional information insert with the directions and any details on accommodation.
The person/s funding the wedding should appear by name on the invites, usually as the host (on the opening line), if your wedding is being jointly funded then all persons names should appear.
Titles should always be used and written in full when addressing envelopes, do not use abbreviations, the only exceptions are Mr & Mrs.
Do not include the dress code on the invites, unless you are having a Black tie dress code, etiquette dictates that this is written on the right side of your wedding invitations. You should also include this on evening invitations. If you are having a dress code other than black tie, you must tell guests but not on the invite, but on the information insert instead.
It is not socially correct to ask, mention or refer to gifts, money or donations in your wedding invitations. Gift lists should only be provided on request and if you would like money or donations towards a honeymoon, this is advised by word of mouth.
It is not deemed correct to say “no children” on the invitations, you should write both the parents names on the invitations and explain by telephone or face to face that children are not invited. Alternatively you can arrange a crèche at the wedding reception venue or entertainment.
Who to Invite?
All guests should receive an invitation, including parents, ushers, bridesmaids and the registrar. You do not need to send an invitation to every guest at the same address, but if a child over 18 years is living at the same address, etiquette dictates you send a separate invitation. You should send invitations to all the guests that attended your engagement party.
There is, of course, a correct way to order wedding invitation items!
If the wedding invitation is folded, the other stationery items are popped inside. If the invitations are flat card style, the other items should be placed on top with the smallest on top. if tissue paper is included, this should be laid on top of the invitation, then other items are placed on top.
When putting items in the envelope the face of the invite should be showing when the envelope is opened. If you are having an outer envelope too, make sure the writing on the inner envelope is shown when the outer envelope is opened.
What to write on the inner and outer envelopes? All wedding invitation envelopes should be hand-written, if you must get them printed make it look like they are hand-written. All guests names should be written on the inner envelope, including any children ( or family if all are invited), the inner envelope should be left unsealed. The inner envelope should be placed inside the outer envelope with the guests name showing when it is pulled out. The name of the the recipients (i.e. Mr & Mrs x. xxxx) and the address should be written in full on the outer envelope. It is deemed incorrect to write “plus guest” on the outer envelope.
Save the dates
Save the dates should clearly indicate if the guests are only invited to the reception, generally save the dates are only sent to day guests.
And breathe …. !
Don’t forget, that although you can be guided by etiquette, it’s your wedding and you should stamp it with your own style.
Should you need any further advice on wedding etiquette, the “bible of etiquette” is Debretts