Wedding Invitation Wording 101

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Your wedding invitations are the only thing your guests see before the big day arrives, so crafting thoughtful invites is a great way to get your guests pumped for the upcoming celebration and share a hint of what’s to come. So it’s essential that your wedding invitation wording be on point—you don’t want any blunders here. Here are the four jobs your wedding invitation wording has to do: 

  1. Convey all the critical information about who’s getting married, when, where;
  2. Recognize the hosts of the wedding and/or the parents of the couple, if desired;
  3. Convey the tone and formality of the wedding;
  4. Indicate how guests should RSVP (if no response card is included).

Read on for a line-by-line breakdown of what language should appear, and in what order, on a standard wedding invitation. Once you understand the various components of wedding invitation wording, you can then see how they’re put to use through our wedding invitation wording examples. Trust us: we won’t let you mess this up.

paper wedding invitations designed by Zola

Zola save the date, invitation, and RSVP card in Heaven Fade design

Anatomy of an Invitation

Although the order of these components may vary, below are the handful of elements that compose basic wedding invitation format. Think of it this way: if you want people to show up to your wedding at the right place and time, make sure it’s on the invitation.

Zola paper invitation in Eastwick Wreath design, with invitation wording elements highlighted

Zola invitation in Eastwick Wreath design

Host line:

Hopefully you haven’t forgotten who’s responsible for making your big day happen. Located at the very top of the invitation, the host line is where the name(s) of the event hosts appear. The hosts are typically the people who are paying for the wedding. Depending on who’s hosting, the wording will vary slightly: it could be one set of parents, both sets of parents, the couple and their parents together, or just the couple. Read our Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Invitation Wording for more specific guidance on how to format names, and then jump below for wording examples. 

Couple’s names:

That’s you! Depending on your message, your names may fall higher or lower on the card—but no matter where they’re placed, make sure they stand out. For heterosexual couples, the bride’s name traditionally comes before the groom’s. For same-sex couples, the wording of the host line may dictate who’s name comes first (i.e., if one set of parents is hosting, their names will come first and their child’s should follow). If you are hosting it yourselves, then it’s up to you which name comes first. One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war… 

Information:

The real meat of the invitation, the information section follows the couple’s names. It states the date of the wedding, where the wedding ceremony and reception are taking place, and the event’s start time. Include the address of the venue(s), unless your invitation design doesn’t allow room. You can also include information on guest attire and how guests should RSVP (an email and/or phone number and a deadline) if you forego a response card.

Party line:

Wrap up with a party line, which comes at the end of the invitation and notifies guests of what’s scheduled to follow “I do.” Whether that’s cocktails and hors d’oeuvres or dinner and dancing, let your guests know what to expect.

Zola paper wedding invitations in Morrison design being put into a gold-lined envelope by a woman's hands

Zola paper invitations in Morrison Rise design

Invitation Wording Examples

Formal, Bride’s Parents Hosting, One Deceased Parent

Mrs. and Mr. Michael Francis Middleton
request the honour of your company
at the marriage of their daughter

Catherine Elizabeth Middleton
to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Son of Charles, Prince of Wales and the late Diana, Princess of Wales

Friday, the twenty-ninth of April
two thousand and eleven
at eleven o’clock in the morning
at Westminster Abbey – 20, Deans Yard
London, England

Reception to follow

Formal, Couple Hosting

Amal Alamuddin and George Timothy Clooney
request the pleasure of your company
at the celebration of their marriage

Saturday, 27 September 2014
at noon
Aman Canal Grande Hotel in Venice, Italy

Festivities to follow

Formal, Groom’s Parents Hosting, Bride’s Parents Deceased

Mr. Angiolo Guiseppe and Mrs. Elettra Rossellini
invite you to share in the joy
of marriage uniting their son
Roberto Rossellini

to
Ingrid Bergman
Daughter of the late Mr. Justis and Mrs. Friedel Bergman

Saturday, the twenty-fourth of May
nineteen fifty
at noon
Hotel Boca Chica, Acapulco, Mexico

Dinner and merriment to follow

Two different wedding invitation suites designed and sold by Zola

Zola invitation suites in Woads Corner and Franklin Ring designs

Traditional, Couple & Families Hosting

Together with their families
Gisele Bundchen and Thomas Brady
invite you to their marriage celebration

February twenty-six, two thousand and nine
at noon
Santa Monica Catholic Church
701 California Avenue
Santa Monica,
California

Reception to follow

Traditional, Couple Hosting

Neil Patrick Harris and David Michael Burtka
cordially invite you to their wedding celebration

Saturday the sixth of September
two thousand and fourteen
at one o’clock in the afternoon

An anonymous castle in Perugia, Italy

Reception to follow

Traditional, Couple & Families Hosting, One Deceased Parent

Together with their families,
Malaak Compton,
daughter of Gerald and Louisa Compton,
and
Christopher Rock,
son of the late Julius Rock and Rosalie Rock,
invite you to share in their wedding festivities

November twenty-third, nineteen ninety six
at eight o’clock in the evening
The Estate at Florentine Gardens
97 Rivervale Road
River Vale, New Jersey

Dinner reception to follow

Zola wedding invitation suites in Peak Zoom and Peak Portrait designs

Zola wedding invitation suite in Peak Zoom and Peak Portrait designs

Casual, No Specified Host

Miss Beyonce Knowles
and
Shawn “Jay Z” Carter
are getting married

Friday, the fourth of April
Two thousand and eight
at four o’clock in the afternoon
Jay Z’s crib
New York, New York

Dinner and dancing to follow

Casual, Both Sets of Parents Hosting

With great pleasure
Kimberly and Jonathan Biel
and Lynn Bomar Harless and Randall Timberlake

invite you to celebrate the marriage of their children
Jessica and Justin

October 19, 2012
at four o’clock in the afternoon

Borgo Egnazia Resort
72015 Savelletri di Fasano BR, Italy
RSVP by August 31
(555) 555-5555

Dress as you wish, dine as you like, dance as you please

Zola paper wedding invitations in Woads design

Zola wedding invitations in Woads Corner design

Whimsical, Couple Hosting

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi
invite you to share in their wedding festivities

Saturday, August 16 2008
At the residence of
Beverly Hills, California

Dinner, dancing, and merriment to follow


Whimsical, No Specified Host

Please join us
as Will and Jada tie the knot

December 31, 1997
Cloisters Mansion
10440 Falls Road
Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland

Ceremony followed by dinner, drinks,
and awkward but enthusiastic dancing

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12 Comments

  1. Christine says

    Question: how do we mention it is a child free wedding on the invites? What would be the best wording?

    • Kate Lynn Nemett says

      Hi Christine, thanks for your great question. Finding the best words to put on your wedding invitation can be a tricky thing, and we’re here to help! If you’d like to mention that your wedding will be child-free on your invitation itself, here are a few wording suggestions:

      “While we love children (especially yours), we would rather you be fully present to enjoy the evening by leaving your little ones at home.”

      “We wish we could have a dozen different kinds of parties, but our wedding celebration will be a real grown-up affair. Please prepare to make other arrangements for your children.”

      “Due to the formal nature of the evening, we ask that children be left at home. Thank you for your understanding!”

      You could also consider leaving these messages on your wedding website instead of, or in addition to, on your actual wedding invitation. I hope this helps!

  2. Christina Doran says

    What if the brides parents are divorced ( dad got remarried) and the grooms parents are married happily

    • Kate Lynn Nemett says

      Hi Christina,

      Thanks for your question—I’m happy to help you come up with some ideas! Your invitation wording all depends on how formal your wedding will be, but here are a few suggestions for how to word an invitation with a divorced and remarried father of the bride and married parents of the groom:

      1. If you don’t want to mention the bride’s stepmother:
      Mr. [FATHER OF THE BRIDE’S NAME] and Ms. [MOTHER OF THE BRIDE’S NAME]
      request the presence of your company
      at the marriage of their daughter
      [BRIDE’S NAME]
      to
      [GROOM’S NAME]
      Son of Mr. and Mrs. [FATHER OF THE GROOM’S NAME]

      1. If you do want to mention the bride’s stepmother:
      Mr. and Mrs. [FATHER OF THE BRIDE’S NAME] and Ms. [MOTHER OF THE BRIDE’S NAME]
      request the presence of your company
      at the marriage of their daughter
      [BRIDE’S NAME]
      to
      [GROOM’S NAME]
      Son of Mr. and Mrs. [FATHER OF THE GROOM’S NAME]

      3. If you want to include everyone’s first names:
      Mr. [FATHER OF THE BRIDE’S FIRST NAME] and Mrs. [STEPMOTHER OF THE BRIDE’S FIRST NAME][FATHER OF THE BRIDE’S LAST NAME] and Ms. [MOTHER OF THE BRIDE’S NAME]
      request the presence of your company
      at the marriage of their daughter
      [BRIDE’S NAME]
      to
      [GROOM’S NAME]
      Son of Mr. [FATHER OF THE GROOM’S FIRST NAME] and Mrs. [MOTHER OF THE GROOM’S FIRST NAME] [GROOM’S LAST NAME]

      I hope one of the solutions fits what you are looking for…please let me know if I can help you in any other ways!

  3. Beverly A Duah says

    Hi! How do you tell your guests about monetary gifts on your invitations..🤔🤔🤔👀👀👀?

    • Kate Lynn Nemett says

      Hi Beverly,

      I want to be sure I fully understand your question: are you wondering how to tell guests about a cash fund registry you’ve set up? Or is there another message about monetary gifts (you don’t want them, you want to donate them to charity, etc.) that you want to share?

      Assuming you want to share the news about your cash fund registry, I’d recommend including that information on your wedding website—and then including a link to your website on your invitation, directing guests to go there to find out these sorts of details. Setting up a website is very quick and easy on Zola, and if helps prevent the need to put gift information on your actual invitation, which is often considered in poor taste.

  4. Elaine says

    We’re having a dinner after but it’s at a restaurant and we won’t be footing the bill what’s the best way to word that on the invitation

    • Kate Lynn Nemett says

      Hi Elaine,

      Good question—that does require some careful wording! I would say something like this:

      We’d love to have you join us
      for an optional dinner at your own expense at
      [Restaurant Name] at [Time]

      If you have the room to write a longer explanation, or if you want to include more info on your wedding website, here is how I would word a lengthier version:

      “While we won’t be having a formal reception after the ceremony, we plan to have dinner at [Restaurant Name] at [time]. We wish we could cover everyone’s meal, but our budget just won’t allow it. We’d still love to celebrate with you all, however, if you’d like to join us!”

      I hope that helps!

  5. Jasmine says

    Where would it be appropriate to mention on the invitation that we have a honeymoon fund rather than a registry, and how could one appropriately phrase that detail?

    • Kate Lynn Nemett says

      Hi Jasmine,

      Great question—more and more couples are opting for a cash or honeymoon fund instead of a registry these days. Traditionally registry information is left off of the invitation entirely; this is where wedding websites come in very handy! You can set up a Zola wedding website quickly and easily, include information about your honeymoon fund, and then include the link to your website on your invitation or save the date. For engagement parties or wedding showers, however, it’s considered fine to include registry information on the invitations.

      If you are set on including gift information on your wedding invitation, I would at least put this detail on the back of the invitation or on an enclosure/details card. You can keep the wording about it short and sweet. Here’s a few suggestions for how to phrase it:

      “You can find our honeymoond fund at ______.”
      “In lieu of gifts, we are asking for contributions to our honeymoon. If you would like to help send us to [LOCATION] in style, you can find our fund at _______.”

      Hope that helps!

  6. shelly birt says

    My fiance and I are doing a private ceremony for a wedding but then having a reception 6 weeks later how would we word an invite for the reception?

    • Kate Lynn Nemett says

      Hi Shelly,

      Congratulations! That sounds like a lovely arrangement. To word an invitation for a reception only, here are some suggestions:

      – Please join us to celebrate our recent marriage
      – Please join us for [brunch, cocktails, dinner and dancing, etc.] to celebrate our recent marriage
      – We got hitched! Now we need your help to celebrate. Please join us for…
      – You’re invited to the wedding celebration of [NAME] and [NAME]
      – You’re invited to celebrate the recent marriage of [NAME] and [NAME]

      I hope one of these helps spark some inspiration. Please let me know if you need further advice! I’m happy to help.

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