Today casual rules. Sure, we love a good reason to black tie the night away; however, when the occasion calls for an elegant vibe with the dress something a little less than formal, your invitation has the job of delivering a message. Etiquette exists today so that the message leads guests to a confident arrival, without of course, the cringe-worthy text of a blatently priggish host. Truth: no one wants to party with a pedant.
On Point with Casually Chic Etiquette
Step One: Always begin with the hosts.All invitations are issued by the host(s). You can forego the formality of titles (Mr., Mrs., etc.) and middle names, if you like. The key is consistency. Children are never referred to with a title by their parents. If the hosting parents are introduced with a title, the groom (since he's not the child of the host) will get a title for consistency, while the bride will not since she is the child of the hosts. Similarly, if one person uses a middle name, all use middle names. As etiquette standards go, initials are still considered amateur. Spell out or drop.
For the record Claire Elizabeth Davis is marrying Tyler Hammond Wilson.
Something to keep in mind.Ceremonies before 5 o'clock are considered informal. Attire for these may be quite stylish, but black tie is only worn for evenings (after 5 p.m.). For this reason, an earlier occasion would typically have informal wording to indicate a less formal event.
** HOSTED BY BRIDE'S PARENTS **
** HOSTED BY BRIDE AND GROOM **
In a church or sanctuary
In a secular location
*Note, titles are not used by the hosts
- and more casually -
You are cordially invited to
- or -
Your presence is requested
** HOSTED BY ALL **
Together with their families
- or -
at their wedding
** HOSTED BY ANOTHER **
Hosts are married,
Hosts are unmarried,
Other changes for less formal invitations:
THE HALF HOUR
THE NUMBERS GAME
Numerals may be used in place of
A CASUAL REPLY
Replies may be requested via
Here are the key components. Any by all means, ask and we will help you!
The Titles When parents are presenting a child, no title is used. This is why a bride has a title when someone other than her parents or herself is hosting, and does not otherwise. This is also why the groom is presented as 'Mr.' on a formal invitation. This has everything to do with the parent's of the bride addressing the groom with respect, and absolutely nothing to do with equality and preferential title use.
Honor, Honour, and Presence The British spelling of honour, as in the 'honour of your presence,' is used only properly used when two criteria are met. First, when the ceremony takes place in a house of worship. Second, when the event is formal. "Formal" is after 5 p.m. 'The pleasure of your company,' is used to indicate that a ceremony is not held in a sanctuary. "Honor" without the British spelling can be used for a less formal church wedding. Why?The formal spelling of 'Honour' (old English) is used out of reverence for higher power, indicating the ceremony is held within religious-oriented formalities. It does not, however, mean the ceremony is any more fancy.
Indicating time'Half past' is considered informal language, as opposed to 'half after.' This is why 'half past' is correctly used on invitations that are decidedly less formal, regardless of the occasion.
Indicating dateThe date and year can be spelled out or written numerically. For spelled out numerals, the inclusion of the word 'and' is optional. Traditionally 'and' was used, but current grammar dictates that omitting 'and' is correct. Either choice is accepted as correct. If written out, both the day of the week and the month are capitalized. Why? Proper capitalization and consistency are forms of correct grammar.
The venueTraditionally, formal invitations had no address line. Today, it is acceptable to have a line with the street location if the venue is not a widely known landmark by all the guests. ZIP codes are never printed on an invitation. The city and state are on their own line, fully spelled out, even on informal invitations. Why? ZIP codes are required by postal regulations and are considered erroneous when included on an invitation. State names are also written out completely on an invitation, whether formal or informal.
R.s.v.p.When the ceremony card also invites guests to a reception or to a ceremony not held in a place of worship, the term R.s.v.p. (written exactly as such) is placed in the bottom left corner. If the ceremony card only invites guests to the church, an R.s.v.p. line is traditionally not used. An exception today is a church where the entire congregation is not invited, and space is limited. For informal invitations only, a phone number, email, or website is acceptably written on the bottom of the invitation. If a reply card card is included, R.s.v.p. is not written on the invitation itself. Why? The presence of a reply card tells the recipient that a reply is necessary, so printing R.s.v.p. is redundant. Phrases like, "Reply card enclosed" is only used in corporate settings rather than social.
Important Things to Omit Attire, gifts, and any mention of children—included or not. This isn't about formality.
In the case that you feel an attire directive is absolutely necessary (and many of us do—it's perfectly fine), a clearly understood attire phrase is printed on the separate reception card on the lower right corner. Why? Frankly, it's considered rude to tell people to what to wear to a place of worship. The general idea is to be accepting in worship of all people as they are. When you are marrying in a place of worship, there is naturally an element of worship, so all are welcome regardless of their ability to dress to your preference.
Gifts are never mentioned anywhere a wedding in or on invitation that is issued for yourself or by a family member. The family or the couple themselves graciously accepts any gifts given, and sure, you've spent time registering and have some expectations—but stop there. Why? It is poor taste to ask for a gift your yourself or for a close relative (typicaly today immediate family is the boundary circle), regardless of the occasion. When someone wants to know where you are registered, they will ask you or a friend, or visit your website. In contrast, when a non-family member is hosting a shower, they add registry information it to their invitation. Keep in mind that although a gift is traditional, it is not something to be demanded or directed by the recipient.
Kiddos welcome? Or not? The place to make your point is not on the invite. It is solely on the envelope. There are some hacks for the reply cards an expert can give you that are tactful, but they add dollars to the bottom line. The traditional handling of an adults-only affair is to make a point to spread the word by mouth. If you are truly concerned about a specific individual, the tasteful solution is a little adulting with a phone call or face to face converstion. Why? First, it's simple psychology. This social intelligence has existed since the first hand-written note. Sensitive subjects are best addressed with vocal tones and facial expressions. Black and white text is almost always misunderstood. Second, there is never kind phrasing to exclude someone—anyone—from an event once they are in posession of the invitation. The names of those invited from the household are on the envelope. No one else in the household is assumed invited if they are not specifically named.
The words matter Believe it or not, there are very particular reasons for invitations to employ certain words in specific situations. This is your time to shine and stretch those social muscles. Looking smart is always en vogue. If you need assistance, we've got your back! Just ask.