Invitation Wording for Smart Cookies Pt. 1


If you’ve never had to decide on the wording of a wedding invitation before, it can be a confusing task. Pleasure of your company or honor of your presence? Whose parents’ names come first? How about divorce or dead parents? Two grooms or two brides? Who gets listed first then? Can’t I just send out a viral evite?

Don’t panic. It’s really not as complicated as all that. You just need to know what the rules are and how they affect your choices. Also? Nobody ever died of an ill-worded wedding invitation, so it’s okay to lighten up a bit.

Is your wedding taking place in a place of worship? If so, the correct thing to ask guests for is the honor of their presence. If the wedding is being held in a hotel, garden, living room, skydiving facility, and amusement park or any other place that is not specifically dedicated to religious services, then you ask your guests for the pleasure of their company.

Make certain guests know what precisely they are being invited to attend. Is it a wedding? A reception to honor a couple who eloped? Just make sure that even if you add in phrases about celebrating everlasting love or witnessing the joy of a new family that you still put in words that people will understand to mean a particular kind of celebration they’ve heard of. People want to know for sure whether this is a wedding, a commitment ceremony that will not make the couple legally married, a reception for a couple who has already married, a reaffirmation of vows (vows do not need renewing like a driver’s license, but may occasionally benefit from reaffirmation), or an anniversary party.

According to tradition, the bride’s parents names go first as the hosts of the occasion. The standard wording goes something like this:

Mr. and Mrs. G. Percival Arbuthnot
request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their daughter,
Millicent Penelope
to
Mr. Stanhope Morton Terwilliger
etc.

Once upon a time, Mr. and Mrs. Terwilliger wouldn’t have gotten a mention on the invitation because the bride’s parents were the hosts and the groom’s parents… frankly they were just guests who got extra flowers.

Of course, rising divorce rates, the rising age of first time brides and grooms, groom’s parents equality marches and myriad other things have made this a less and less common form. These days many a bride and groom host their own shindig. Sometimes a bride or groom has multiple stepparents who are part of the celebration. It’s not uncommon that one or the other of the bridal couple has lost a parent, or even both.

So what do you do about all of those situations?

If both sets of parents are acting as hosts, it’s a matter of putting it like this:

Mr. and Mrs. G. Percival Arbuthnot
and
Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Stanhope Terwilliger
Request the honor of your presence
At the wedding of their children
Millicent Penelope Arbuthnot
and
Stanhope Morton Terwilliger

If the happy couple is hosting their own party, there are a couple options:

Miss Millicent Penelope Arbuthnot
and
Mr. Stanhope Morton Terwilliger
Request the honor of your presence

or:

Millicent Penelope Arbuthnot
and
Stanhope Morton Terwilliger
Together with their parents
Request the pleasure of your company

If you’ve got a whole lot of parents between you, this might be the smartest way to go, just so nobody gets left out or feels snubbed by the order.

or:
Miss Millicent Penelope Arbuthnot
Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. Percival Arbuthnot
and
Mr. Stanhope Morton Terwilliger
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Stanhope Terwilliger
Request the pleasure of your company

Tune in tomorrow for hints and tips in cases where divorce or death will affect the wording of the invitation, thursday for how to word a same-sex wedding invitation, and friday for when the invitation isn’t to the ceremony.

4 Responses to “Invitation Wording for Smart Cookies Pt. 1”

  1. srah October 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    I like the sound of groom’s parents equality marches.

  2. Twistie October 12, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Didn’t you know? They were all the rage in the late seventies. (nods seriously)

  3. Toni October 12, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    At my first wedding, we had gotten secretly married a year previously (for health insurance reasons, and our parents, best friends, and reverend knew [he married us] but that was it) and we were trying to keep it as mum as possible to 1. not confuse people and 2. keep up the excitement about the ‘ceremony’ and reception.

    I think the invite said something like… “We invite you to the blessing of the marriage of….”

    Of course, not a single person noticed, and the big reveal didn’t come until the reverend made a big speech about how we were already married so we “wouldn’t be living together in sin under the eyes of god.” Hee.

    When people (good naturedly) called us out at the reception, we could point out that we WERE honest on the invite, and it wasn’t our fault if they didn’t pay attention.

    For both weddings, we put something like “Bride’s parents invite you to the wedding of…” There was some debate about the second time, since husband and I paid for everything, but the ceremony was held in my parent’s backyard, and we decided that the appearance of politeness and making my parents happy was more important to me than making some sort of point about how we were (understandably and rightly) footing the bill.

  4. Twistie October 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Being thoughtful of your parents’ feelings is always polite, Toni. If it’s important to the parents to be acknowledged (or to you to acknowledge them) formally, then I’m absolutely in favor, no matter what the financial arrangements.

    Oh, and good for you being honest about what the celebration was the first time, even if the guests didn’t catch on! I’ll be covering that one on friday, for all of you wondering how it’s properly done.