A Way With Words

Your work is only half-finished when you choose your invitation. Next, you have to make sure it's word-perfect! Iris wedding invitation from Designs by Ann Margaret.

Yesterday, among the catalogs, bills and “Risk Free Trials!” that cluttered my mailbox, I found something a bit more exciting: an invitation to two friends’ February wedding.  As far as mail goes, wedding invitations are about as good as it gets in my book!

And this was a very nice invitation.  The couple DIY-ed their invitations, with smoothly-rounded corners, a monogram-stamped button, and a pretty green ribbon tying it up like a package.  But what I liked best about this invitation was its perfect presentation.  From the line breaks to the wording, it was technically flawless.  It told me everything I needed to know — and nothing I didn’t — stylishly.

While invitations are a lot less constricted by rules these days, there are still some guidelines that are good to follow — and some newly-acceptable ways to streamline and simplify your invitation package.  So, a quick rundown:

  • Do give hosting credit to your parents if they’re paying for the wedding –
    • “Dr. and Mrs. Steven Smith request the honor of your presence” is customary wording for a church or synagogue wedding
    • “Dr and Mrs. Steven Smith request the pleasure of your company” is customary for weddings held at non-religious venues
    • Play with either variation to come up with the wording that suits your occasion
  • Do consider writing “John and Jane, together with their families” even if you’re footing the whole bill
  • Do consider listing the groom’s parents names on the invitation as well
  • Don’t include the zip code if you list the site’s address on your invitation
  • Don’t include registry information in invitations, because gifts are technically optional (so save those little registry cards for shower invitations – at showers, gifts are the point!)
  • Do skip a separate reception card if the reception will be held at the same location, or if your reception information is minimal enough that it won’t clutter your invitation
  • Don’t include messy or confusing directions to venues; direct guests to that information on your wedding website instead
  • Don’t ask guests to RSVP by e-mail, telephone, or wedding website unless it’s a very casual wedding; if it is casual, by all means, take the green route!
  • Do use layouts that deviate from the standard centered font if you’d like – aligned left, aligned right, or split with some text in one upper hand corner and more text down below
  • Don’t make your invitation look messy by using too many or difficult-to-read fonts
  • Do make sure your invitation style is in keeping with the formality of your wedding
  • Don’t write the ceremony time numerically – “4:00 p.m.” – in a formal invitation
  • Do make your name and your fiancé’s name larger than the rest of the print
  • Do pre-stamp response card envelopes with the appropriate postage

Dreaming of the perfect wedding invitation?

Whether you want a classic hand-calligraphed invitation on ivory stock or a highly-stylized and colorful creation, make sure you check, doublecheck and triple-check your invitation wording before you send it to press. 

It’s a good idea to let a few close friends or family members give it a once-over as well, because they might catch a typo you’ve missed as you scrutinized it with a magnifying glass.  If you can work with a certified wedding professional, that’s a great help, too: he or she will be able to help you with tricky situations when it comes time to address envelopes, or come up with creative ways to rework the traditional wording.

Above all, make sure that you love your invitation.  Like your wedding dress and your photos, it will be one of the most meaningful mementos of your special day — if you’re happy with the way it turns out.  If it doesn’t reflect you, then it’s merely a (very expensive!) piece of paper ushering your guests to the party.

Happy designing/writing/dreaming!

~ Laura


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