You’ve got a colour scheme, sussed out a guest list and have decided on the when and where. Now let’s get to the nitty gritty. Wording your wedding invitations is a minefield of etiquette and detail to dodge. So how do you actually say “come to our wedding”?!
Your wedding invitations communicate important information to your guests. Of course, the all-important who, when and where - but also information on the type of wedding they can expect to attend. Does your invite say cocktail dress and fancy up-do, or jeans and a nice top?
Why are wedding invitations so important?
A properly designed invitation conveys the tone, style, theme and sets the scene for your guests. You have your perfect day sitting in your imagination. Your wedding invitation is your first chance to express this vision to your guests.
"You have your perfect day sitting in your imagination, and your wedding invitation is your first chance to express this vision to your guests"
Such a simple question has a lot of parts, and we've tried to include as much detail as possible throughout this article. So if you have a specific question, refer to our Table of Contents to skip to what's important.
Knowing the applicable rules and etiquette - and the reasons behind them - means you’ll make more informed decisions on the wording of your invitations. This means you’ll be less likely to commit any etiquette no-nos that’ll send Grandma into a tailspin.
Once you know the rules and understand the traditions, you can make a conscious decision about which of those you want to keep or skip. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding, your rules. Let’s dive in.
Claim your free Wedding Invitation Guide
Planning your wedding invitations and stationery can be a daunting task. But fear not, Be My Guest Design is here to demystify the process for you!
Introducing our comprehensive Wedding Invitation Guide—a 24-page booklet designed to address all your questions and concerns in one convenient place.
- Save the Date cards: Make a memorable first impression
- Wedding Stationery Timeline: Stay on track with ease
- The Basics of Wording Your Wedding Invitations: Find the perfect words
- Tips for Rounding Up Your Invite RSVPs: Ensure a seamless response process
- Wedding Invitation Wording Worksheet: Craft personalised invitations
- How to Capture Memories: Preserve precious moments from your big day
- Tips and Tricks for Your Wedding Reception: Celebrate in style
This guide is filled with inspiration and our best tips to guarantee your wedding stationery journey is as fuss-free and enjoyable as possible!
So handy to have! Has been my life saver trying to plan my save the dates & invitations! - Ellie
Wording for Same-Sex Wedding Invitations
In our following examples, we've used the terms Bride and Groom to share the traditional wording rules. However there are weddings with two Brides, weddings with two Grooms, and weddings with any combination or label that a couple in love so desires to use. For the avoidance of all doubt - Be My Guest Design believes Love is Love. Anyone is welcome.
The traditional 'rules' that dictate order of names are gendered. So for clarity we have used the gendered terms to highlight the order. It doesn't mean it is the 'right way'. This may not suit you. Put your names in any order you want - the 'right way' is whatever way you want.
The only 'rule' that 'must' be followed is to make sure your parents' names are listed in the same order as you’ve chosen for yourselves, to avoid confusion (if you are opting to have their names on the invite).
"You have your perfect day sitting in your imagination. Your wedding invitation is your first chance to express this vision to your guests."
Wedding Invitation Wording Guidelines
Wedding planning can be an overwhelming business. Your invitations are filled with details likely to stress even the most chilled nearly-wed. Learning the guidelines and understanding the 'why' behind traditions helps you can make a conscious, educated, confident decision about which of those you want to keep (or which ones to disregard). At the end of the day, it’s your wedding, your rules.
Throughout this post we have shared a number of examples. If you want more ideas, browse through our wedding invitations online to gain some inspiration. We are also happy to help you tweak your invitation wording to say 'just the right thing', so let us know if you would like some help when you submit your wording.
I. The hosting line AKA the introduction
Whoever was hosting the wedding (e.g. paying for the wedding) is typically listed on the wedding invitation. The bride's family was typically responsible for hosting the wedding and bearing most of the wedding expenses. However these days people list both sets of parents regardless of who is doing the paying, or use a more generic introduction.
A request line either follows the introduction/host names or is incorporated into it. This functions to say there is a wedding and this is an invitation to it.
Essential Rules to follow
If both sets of parents are hosting, the bride’s parents go first. That’s because the bride’s name goes first on a wedding invitation (more on this a bit later on).
Following this logic, the mother of the bride's name goes first, and then the father of the bride. When you go to list the groom's parents, again the mother goes first, and then the father. The reason for this is "you don't split the male from his last name" - I'm not sure why that is, it's just how I've always remembered it.
If a parent has passed away, then formal etiquette dictates that they are not on the invitation as a host. But to acknowledge the deceased parent, rewrite the host line to add "the late" in front of their name.
Traditional: The parent's of the bride
Contemporary: Both sets of parents are named, regardless of who is hosting*
Alternative: Keep it generic, i.e. "Along with our families..." or "Along with our children" are popular and inclusive options
*Remember: make sure your parents' names are listed in the same order as you’ve chosen for yourselves. This should avoid confusion .
Example Request Lines
The request line acts to explain that this invitation is for a wedding! This line is often incorporated into the hosting line.
- Request the honour of your presence at their wedding
- Invite you to share in their joy as they exchange marriage vows
- We invite you to be with us as we begin our new life together, with a wedding ceremony
- Joyfully invite you to share in their happiness as they unite in marriage
- invite you to celebrate our wedding day together
- Request your company to celebrate their wedding day
Are your guests invited to a wedding or a marriage?
Asking guests to attend your wedding is correct. Asking them to attend your marriage is not. A wedding is the event, a marriage is the result of it. “Unite in marriage” is a fancy way of saying a wedding so that’s an option if you feel like being fancy.
II. Couple's names on a wedding invitation
What Order Does the Wedding Couple's Names Go in?
Traditionally, the bride's name is listed first on a wedding invitation for historical and cultural reasons. Listing the bride's name first on the invitation was a way to acknowledge her family's role and position in the event. It also represented a formal way of announcing the marriage to the community and acknowledging the bride's transition from her family's home to her husband's.
Additionally, in some cultures, it was considered customary to emphasise the bride's name as a sign of respect and honour to her family. This custom was prevalent in Western cultures, where the bride's family traditionally played a more significant role in wedding preparations.
It's important to note that wedding traditions have evolved over time, and many couples today choose to structure their wedding invitations in different ways to reflect their preferences and values.
Modern invitations use variations that include both names equally or even the groom's name first. Ultimately, how names are listed on a wedding invitation is a personal choice made by the couple or their families, and there are no strict rules governing the order.
Do you use just your first name or full name on the invitation?
Going back to the traditions - because the parents were hosting and their last names were already on the invite, the bride's first names only was listed. The theory being, it is repetitive/redundant to mention the same last name multiple times.
With the many different versions of hosting/family dynamics/modern life, it is up to your preference whether you use your first names, first and last names, or full names (i.e. including your middle names). Some people simply go by what would look good on the invitation design they've chosen. There's nothing wrong with that!
III. Wording your invitations with your guest names incorporated
One perk of working with Be My Guest is the opportunity to print wedding guest’s names on their invitations.
Personalising your invitations with your guest’s names clarifies who is actually invited. It shows you've thought of them individually, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere from the start. This can also be helpful when trying to imply children aren’t invited!
Adding guest names to wedding invites also implies the invite is not transferable. If your friend breaks up with her boyfriend she can’t bring her hot mess workmate you’ve never met.
Wedding invitations with guest names printed is perfect if you don’t like your handwriting! Including your guests' names on the wedding invitations adds that extra touch of elegance and thoughtfulness.
You'll want to incorporate the guest's names into your wording so that it will read properly. Read your proposed wording out loud. Does it sound right? The designers at Be My Guest are experienced in wording your wedding invitations and will offer tweaks and guidance to ensure your guest names are incorporated seamlessly on your invitation cards. More information on how to add your guest names into your invites is available here.
Examples for wording wedding invitations with guest names included
These also work if you are popping a line in and handwriting your guest’s names.
- Request the honour of Guest Names at the wedding of...
- Invite Guest Names to share in their joy as they exchange marriage vows
- ...invite Guest Names to be with us as we begin our new life together, with a wedding ceremony
- Joyfully invite Guest Names to share in their happiness as they unite in marriage
- invite Guest Names to celebrate our wedding day together
- Request the company of Guest Names to celebrate their wedding day
How to word inviting 'Plus ones'
A 'Plus one' is where you invite someone along with an invitation to bring a guest of their choice. If a guest is single or not in a serious relationship then you may want to consider whether they will receive a “plus one”. If the bulk of your guests will be there with partners, and you have very few single friends, extending a plus one to your single guests would be a gracious thing to do. Consider how you would feel attending a wedding alone, whether your guest is friendly enough with other guests to enjoy themselves and be comfortable.
If your guest has a partner then you should be inviting both of them (except for say, work friends who will attend in a group). Your definition of a serious relationship and theirs may differ. You don't want to cause offence, so tread lightly. If they are living with someone or are engaged then I would suggest that’s a serious relationship.
These are the most common ways of extending a plus one to your guest:
- Guest Name and Partner
- Guest Name and Guest
- Guest Name plus one
IV. What details to include on a wedding invitation
On a wedding invitation, the appropriate order for listing the event details is:
- time, then
- location (i.e venue).
Don't get too hung up on it though - the most important thing is that all these details are included!
Wording examples when invited to the whole wedding
- On date at time, venue
- On date at time, venue. Cocktails, dinner and dancing to follow
- Ceremony at date, time, venue. Reception to follow at time, venue (reception is the same day, so not repeated)
- On date, at time, venue. Followed by dinner, drinks and dancing at venue (no time listed for reception - this gives you some leeway for a ceremony that runs late)
- Date, Time, Venue. Drinks, canapés and reception to follow (would be used if ceremony and reception at the same place)
Wedding invitation wording, when invited to the ceremony only
We typically print a set of invitations with differing wording, so you'd adjust your 'request line' to specify what part of the wedding they are invited to. Here's some examples of how you can make this clear:
- Please join us for a wedding ceremony on date at time, venue
- Ceremony at date, time, venue.
- ...a wedding ceremony to be held date, at time, venue.
Invited to wedding reception only: 'dance' guests
To be able to celebrate with a wider group of people, couples sometimes invite people to attend the later part of the evening after the meals and speeches. We print a set of invitations with differing wording, or a simpler invitation (as less details are required to be shared). It's important you are clear about what part they are invited to, so you don't have people turning up early when there's no seat available for them.
Here's some examples of how you can make this clear:
- Please join us to celebrate our wedding with drinks and dancing on date at later time, venue
- Wedding after-party at date, later time, venue.
- Celebrate our wedding with drinks, dancing and a supper to be held date, at later time,
Other details about your wedding details
There's a couple of rules that only apply to wedding invitations that you can choose to follow (or not!)
- Do not include a post code or RD numbers for your ceremony or reception locations. These are used for addressing mail, so it’s not necessary when supplying an address for travel.
- Line breaks are considered punctuation on a wedding invitation, so no commas or full stops are required
- If you are spelling out the numbers on your invitations, ensure you spell out all of them, including the time and the year.
- The format of time should be consistent throughout your invitations too - 3pm and 5.00 o'clock in the evening are incorrect.
- Only list the essential information on your main invitation card. Overloading your wedding guests with lots of detail and information can overwhelm people and they may overlook information that’s more important. If it is necessary to include lots of information, a separate details card or directing guests to a wedding website are a good option.
Wording Wedding RSVP details
RSVP is an initialism from “Répondez s'il vous plaît” a French phrase meaning "Please respond”. So if you say Please RSVP, you are repeating yourself (Please Please Respond, in essence). Drop the please, or use the alternative “Please Reply” or "Kindly Reply".
The biggest mistake we see is setting an RSVP date months away from the wedding. If you are sending your wedding invitations the recommended twelve to 6 weeks prior, you should be setting your RSVP date about a month before the wedding. Why does this work? You need a sense of urgency - a close RSVP date motivates your friends and family to make arrangements and reply quickly.
If you are sending your invitations out really early, hoping you will be able to finalise details in lots of time, you’re out of luck. You’ll find guests will procrastinate on replying or those who do reply early may change their plans for various reasons, leaving you feeling mucked about. Save the Dates are the ticket for getting these guests planning ahead. More details in our post on Wedding Invitation Timelines here.
Gift list wording on wedding invitations
It’s always humbling to have your friends and family shower you with gifts, and your wedding is one of those special occasions that people go all out for. There’s plenty of horror stories of tacky vases and multiple toasters circulating, so couples like to get ahead of any questions and suggest what sort of gifts they would like to receive.
Traditionally there should be no mention of gifts, wedding registries or wishing wells on invitations. Guests should be invited with no expectation of receiving gifts (or recouping costs as I have seen some brides wistfully hope for... yikes). At the end of the day, guests are being invited because you want them to celebrate your wedding day, not because you’d like a new toaster.
"At the end of the day, guests are being invited because you want them to celebrate your wedding day, not because you'd like a new toaster."
However, unless you are absolutely horrible people*, family, friends and others will want to help you get set up for your lives together. Being good people, they will be wondering what could be helpful or wanted as a gift. They may feel uncomfortable asking you, or it might be inconvenient to have to track down the bridal party or parents to find out where you are registered. This is what you are “supposed to do”, by the way - have a registry which your Maid of Honour shares with guests. Not particularly practical in modern times).
So yes, it is common for the couple to include a little note about a gift registry, so don’t feel anxious about it. Where budget allows, having the information on a separate card to your main invitation is preferable. This means it is kept completely apart from the wedding invitation. You can then skip including the 'gift card' in any judgy-fusspot relative's invitations). If you have a wedding website, you could include details or links to your gift preferences there.
If you decide to go old-school, and not include anything about gifts at all, that is absolutely fine - the worst that could happen is you may get some double ups of appliances!
Communicating your request for a particular gift or cold hard cash can be a little tricky. A light heated poem or straightforward statement suits best. Don’t get longwinded, we don’t want to draw attention to it.
*I doubt you are a horrible person if you're taking the time to learn about etiquette behind wording wedding invitations so you're all good 🙂
Wedding Wishing Well Wording Examples
- Our two families have come together as one. We really hope you can join in the fun. A wishing well we thought would be great, but only if you wish to participate. A gift of money is placed in the well, then make a special wish, but do not tell! Please do not be offended by our request, as our day is complete having you as a guest.
- Because at first we lived in sin, we've got the sheets and a rubbish bin. A gift from you would be swell but we'd prefer a donation to our Wishing Well. A gift of money is placed in the well, then make a wish but do not tell, cause as the well's tradition goes, your wishes will come true you know!
- More than just kisses so far we've shared, our home has been made with love and care. Most things we need we’ve already got, like a toaster and kettle, the pans and the pots. A wishing well we thought would be great, (but only if you wish to participate). A gift of money is placed in the well, then make a wish but do not tell. Once we’ve replaced the old with the new, we can look back and say it was thanks to you! And in return for your kindness, we’re sure that one day soon, you'll get what you wished for!
- Whilst living in a foreign land, we’ve shared many adventures grand. None of which can ever compare, to the wonderful love we both share. Once we are married, we will travel once more. So we’ve considered the options of getting gifts to our door. As airline restrictions will also apply. When back to the UK we will fly. To save you looking, shopping or buying, here is an idea we hope you like trying. Come to our wedding and wish us both well. And make a donation to our wishing well.
- To save you looking, shopping or buying, here is an idea, we hope you like trying. Come to our wedding, to wish us both well, and bring a small sack, to throw in our wishing well. Fill it with paper all colours will do, gold is our favourite but silver will do. Now that we have saved you, all of that fuss, we hope you will come, and celebrate with us.
- Soon you will hear our wedding bells, as friends and family wish us well. Our household treasures are not brand new, we have twice the things we need for two. Since we have our share of dishes and bedding, we're having instead a wishing well wedding. But more important we ask of you, your prayers of love and blessings too!
- If finding a gift is hard to do, perhaps our wishing well is for you. A gift of money is placed in the well. Then make a wish… but do not tell. If, however, a gift you’d prefer to find. Be assured we will not mind.
- Our home is quite complete now, we've been together long. So please consider our request, and do not take us wrong. A delicate request it is, we hope you understand. Please play along, as it will give our married life a hand. The tradition of the wishing well, is one that's known by all. Go to the well, toss in a coin, and as the coin does fall, make a wish upon that coin, and careful as you do, cause as the well's tradition goes, your wishes could come true. So on this special day of ours, the day that we'll be wed, don't hunt for special gifts, But give a gift of money instead. So as you drop the envelope in, with money great or small, remember, to make your wish, as you watch your money fall.
Wedding Registry Wording Examples
- Your presence at our Wedding is the greatest gift of all. However, if you wish to honour us with a gift, we have registered a list with (shop). You can view it online by entering (reference number), or at any store.
- Please be aware that gifts are not necessary. Your presence is all that is required. However, for your convenience (bride) and (groom) have prepared a gift registry.
- (Bride) and (Groom) are already blessed with much love, laughter and half a household of furniture! Accordingly they have assembled a registry for the items they'd find most useful.
- If choosing a gift is not your cup of tea, you might like to try our gift registry. Please feel no obligation to use this list, as we do not mind if you give it a miss. You can view it online at (website) and enter our registry ID number.
- The happy couple are registered at (place)
- Your love, laughter and company on our wedding day is the greatest gift of all. However, should you wish to help us celebrate with a gift, a registry is held at (store)
- Many friends and family have asked for gift suggestions. As we already have many items to start off our new lives together, we have created a registry with (store). The list can be viewed online with reference number (details).
- Should you wish to honour us with a gift, we hope that our registry held at (store) will make it more convenient for you to select something that you know we will love. The list can be viewed online at (address) with details (details).
- For guests wishing to contribute, a registry is set up at (store)
Wedding Cash Gift Wording Examples
- If you were thinking of giving a gift to help us on our way. A gift of cash towards our house, would really make our day. However, if you prefer a gift, feel free to surprise us in your own special way.
- The most important thing is to have you with us on our special day. No gifts are needed or expected, however we have been asked what we need or would like and, if you do wish to give us something, a little cash to spend on our honeymoon would be very much appreciated.
- We haven't got a gift list, for all of you to see, Because as you know, we never can agree! But if you'd like to help us, start our married life, Cash or vouchers, would save a lot of strife.
- Many of our guests have enquired or a gift idea to be inspired. Like many young couples today, we have a lot of things anyway. If you would like to give, it is our request, for something for our treasure chest. A gift of money you can afford, is just what we need, you can be assured! Without the help of this little pun, our honeymoon might not be as much fun.
- So what do you get for the Bride and Groom, whose house needs things in every room? When shopping for a gift, You needn’t be rash, as there’s always the option, to just give cash! We hope you don’t find our request to be funny. The decision is yours: To buy a present or give money. Now you have the choice, please do not fuss. The most important thing of all, is that you’re there to celebrate with us!
Honeymoon Gift Registry Wording Examples
- A contribution towards our honeymoon fund instead of a gift is much appreciated.
- For a truly memorable gift, (insert names) would love a contribution towards their honeymoon experiences, such as dinners, spa treatments, and excursions.
- Now we are to be Mr & Mrs, we don't need a wedding list of dishes. A holiday is what we need, so your help with this would be a great gift indeed. So should you wish to honour us with a gift, we have registered a honeymoon registry at (travel agency) where you can make a contribution to help us make our honeymoon a memory that will last a lifetime.
- Our wedding wouldn’t be the same without your presence. However, when it comes to presents, please be aware that we would appreciate a donation towards our honeymoon fund in place of wedding gifts.
- The Nearlyweds are registered for their honeymoon and its related experiences at (registry company)
Additional Details for including on wedding invitations
Pandemic Considerations in Wedding Invitation Wording
Keeping your loved ones safe and reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission at your wedding may mean requesting guests wear masks, provide vaccination proof or a negative Covid-19 test. This is unchartered territory, so there's not a lot of examples of how to approach this. If your wedding venue has vaccine requirements, don’t be afraid to place the "blame" on them to help you set boundaries with vaccine-hesitant friends or family.
Covid wedding invitation wording examples:
- Our wedding venue requires that all guests supply a vaccine pass on entry. Please plan accordingly.
- We want to celebrate our wedding with as many of our loved ones as possible, but we also want to be as safe as possible; our wedding day is one we hope can be looked back upon as a joyful occasion, and not as one where COVID-19 was spread. That’s why we’ve decided that in order to attend our wedding, guests must have a vaccine pass. We understand if you aren’t in full agreement with our decision, but we only ask that you respect it, as this was not an easy decision at which to arrive.
- We want to provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere in accordance with all health and safety guidelines. We therefore request that all attending guests be fully vaccinated, social distance where possible, and wear masks whilst indoors.
- In order for our celebrations to be as safe as possible, all guests must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 in order to attend.
- We never imagined planning a wedding in a pandemic! But these are the times, and, despite its impact, we can’t wait to celebrate our love with you. In order to ensure fun, however, we feel we must first ensure safety — for all guests, especially those at higher risk. That’s why after careful consideration we’ve decided that in order to attend our wedding, you and your guest must be fully vaccinated.
- In order to ensure our wedding is as safe as possible, all guests must be fully vaccinated. We understand that this may mean that we can’t celebrate our big day with people we hold dearest. We’re deeply saddened by that. But we just do not feel comfortable taking the risk, and sincerely hope that you understand this decision; it was not one made without consideration.
- For the safety of all of our guests, we encourage unvaccinated friends and family members to procure a negative Covid test prior to attending.
Wedding Dress Codes
Your invitation style should convey the tone of your wedding. Formal and traditional conveys a different tone to bright and relaxed. If you want to avoid misunderstandings, a simple statement of White tie, “black tie”, cocktail, business casual should suffice.
What is Formal Dress Code or 'White Tie'?
Formal attire, evening dress, or white tie is the most formal dress code. Females wear a ballgown. Men wear top hat and tails.
As per the name “evening dress”, this dress code applies to events beginning after dark.
What is Semi-Formal or Black Tie?
Funny enough, most people would consider Black tie to be formal attire. In etiquette circles this is classed as semi-formal. Female should wear dresses with a hemline ending between the knees to the floor. Men should be in a tux.
Often the region will influence how formal people will dress. What some people consider formal attire in Dunedin is considered smart casual or cocktail in Auckland.
Note: Wearing anything strapless or sleeveless can be a no-no to a religious wedding ceremony. More reason to have a dress code listed on your wedding invitation and save guest's embarrassment on the day.
What is Cocktail Attire?
Cocktail attire tends to be the default dress code for most weddings. There can be a bit of overlap between the more formal black tie and the less formal smart casual dress codes, but what sets this level of dress code apart is the length and fabric type of the dresses.
Cocktail dress allows for higher hemlines (i.e. above the knee). Men would wear a dress shirt, dress pants, tie and blazer.
What is Smart Casual?
Smart casual is perfect for a small, informal wedding or a garden wedding. A dress with a floral design or plain colour would be perfect. For the men, a dress shirt and dress pants - tie optional.
Wedding invitations wording for adults only
This is a very common question and there are many different tactics for expressing your desire for a child-free wedding. We have a whole post dedicated to this topic, you can find this here: How to request a child-free wedding.
How many wedding invitations will you need?
Once you've got the final wording pinned down and perfected, do a count up of your wedding guests to determine how many invites you need printed. You need one invitation per household - so if you have around 120 guests, you will need around 70-90 invitations. It's always handy getting extras so if you have any spare spots for last minute guests, you can give them an invitation.
Proofreading your Wedding Invitations
We've spent a lot of time on how to choose the right wording, but just as important is making sure all the details are correct. Check, check and check again because errors lead to expensive or inconvenient mistakes. Imagine a typo in the RSVP phone number. Or the incorrect street address. We have a comprehensive list of items to check over on your wedding invitations - and it's free! Download your wedding invitation proofreading checklist here.