Wedding invitation etiquette

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Writing your wedding invitations is easier if you know the rules
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Although etiquette has changed, there are still some wedding invitation rules

Congratulations on your engagement! 

Now it's time to select and send out the invitations.  And you want to do it right.  But what are the rules of wedding invitation etiquette? Although it would take a book to cover all the rules, here are some basics to get you started.

Writing the invitation

Once you've selected your wedding invitations, it's time to decide on the wording. Most wedding invitation suppliers will offer you a standard wording, but in these days of remarriage, blended families, same gender marriages and different surnames within a family, that old standby form might not work for you. 

Your invitation needs to have:

The full names of the couple - Proper wedding invitation etiquette says you need to include the first and last names of the bride and groom (or in the case of a same gendered union, the couple.)  Including middle names gives the invitation a more formal feel.  Generally nicknames are not used on an invitation, but there is an exception to that rule.  If the name you use on a daily basis is significantly different than your legal name and everyone knows you by that name, you may wish to use the familiar name on your invitation to avoid confusion.. 

For example, if you go by Cindy but are actually Cynthia, use the proper name.  Everyone will understand the connection. But if you go by Susan and everyone knows you as Susan, writing Cynthia on the invitation will cause too much confusion.

The name(s) of the person(s) issuing the invitation - A wedding invitation should say who is sponsoring the wedding and inviting the guests.  This used to mean who was paying the bills, but that may or may not be the case today. For example, your parents might be issuing the invitations, but you and your intended are paying for it.  That's okay.  The invitation would simply state:

John and Martha Smith (or Mr. and Mrs John Smith or John Smith and Martha Jones)
Invite you to...

If the bride and groom are issuing the invitations, they would simply list their names followed by something that says the guest is invited to "our" wedding.

The date, time and location (including city and state for U.S. weddings) of the wedding - Even if the location is a well-known landmark, it is proper to include the city and state of the wedding.  For example, a wedding at Cinderella's Castle in Walt Disney World would read: Cinderella's Castle in Walt Disney World
Kissimmee, Florida

The date and time should be clearly written, with a time of day spelled out..  For instance, instead of "9 a.m.," it should read "nine o'clock in the morning."

The RSVP date - Always let guests know when they need to reply to your invitation.  This information can be on the invitation itself, on the reply card or both.  Also make sure it's clear how you want them to reply -- via telephone, in writing or online.  That way you'll have a clear understanding of where the replies will arrive.

If you use a printed reply card, make sure the envelope is pre-printed with your address (or the host/hostess' address) and has a valid postage stamp on it.  There has been a trend among some to leave off the stamp in case the reply arrives via e-mail or voice.  This is a serious breech of wedding invitation etiquette.  Even if the stamp will be wasted, put it on. 

Proof it and then proof it again

Before you submit your wording to the printer, double check the wording for spelling, grammar or factual errors (like dates, places and times.)  Then have someone else check it.  There's no time for do-overs once those invitations are printed and in the mail, so be sure before you order and again before you send.

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