Your wedding invitations are an important piece of the planning puzzle. Not only are your invitations one of the first things your guests will see, touch, and feel when it comes to your wedding, but they do an important job of conveying critical information. For the sake of politeness and formality, as well as for clarity of your message, be sure to choose clear and appropriate wording on your wedding invitations.

Worried you’re not good with words, or you don’t know all the proper “rules” for wedding invitation wording? Follow our comprehensive guide, outlined below, to understand the complete ins and outs of wedding invitation wording etiquette.

Wedding Invitation Wording Goals

Good wedding invitation wording should accomplish the following jobs:

  • Tell guests the critical information about the wedding: who is getting married, the wedding date, and the wedding location.
  • Recognize the hosts of the wedding.
  • Convey the tone and formality of the wedding, including the dress code.
  • Indicate how guests should RSVP, if no response or other enclosure cards are included.
  • Recognize the couple’s parents, if they are not also the hosts. (Optional)

This is true for traditional weddings, nontraditional weddings, formal weddings, informal weddings, and everything in between. No matter what your wedding style is, you want your wedding invites to be clear.

Basic Template for Wedding Invitation Wording

If you are writing your own invitations from scratch, this line-by-line wording template might come in handy as you fill out this piece of your wedding stationery. It outlines what information should appear, and in what order, on a traditional wedding invite. Once you understand the various components of invitation wording, feel free to get creative with your own personal touches and style, using the language that feels right for you and your partner.

Host Line

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. Jump down to the Rules For Wedding Invitation Wording section for guidance on how to format names, and check out our invitation wording ideas, below.

Couple’s Names

Make sure you and your partner’s names are front and center. They may be placed high, low, or center depending on your invitation design, but make sure they are clearly legible. 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 yourselves, then it’s up to you which name comes first.

Information

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

Party line

The party line comes at the end of the invitation and notifies guests of what’s scheduled to follow the marriage ceremony. Let your guests know what type of wedding reception they should expect, whether it’s dinner and dancing, a light luncheon, or cocktails and canapes.

Wedding Invitation Wording Etiquette

Wedding invitations, and how they are worded, are a topic that makes people nervous. What if you accidentally misspell a word, or leave out critical info? Or, worse yet, what if you don’t know the proper “rules” and end up committing a social faux pas? Never fear—we’ve put together a list of wedding invitation wording etiquette that will help you craft perfectly on-point invitations.

Note: We realize that every wedding is unique. You will have to decide as a couple what type of language feels right for your specific style. These etiquette “rules” are really more suggestions for the most traditional and formal invitation wording. If you are having an informal wedding, and/or prefer a more modern approach to your invitation design, then do whatever works for you and your style.

General Language Etiquette

  • Use upper-case letters for the proper names of days and months, but lower-case letters for numbers.
  • Don’t capitalize the beginning of each line—use capital letters as you would at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Write formal invitations in the third person:
    • Mrs. and Mr. Parents of the Bride/Groom invite you to attend…
  • The phrase “request the honor of your presence” is traditionally used only when the ceremony will take place in a house of worship.
  • The phrase “request the pleasure of your company” is traditionally used for ceremonies that take place outside of a house of worship.
  • Avoid using symbols, unless it’s for a specific design reason (such as an ampersand between the couple’s names)
  • Avoid crowding the card with extraneous information or designs that could make it hard to read.
  • Proofread like your life depends on it!

Etiquette for Names and Titles

  • Capitalize proper names and titles.
  • Don’t use punctuation, except after courtesy titles:
    • Mrs.
    • Mr.
  • Avoid abbreviations; in general, spell everything out except courtesy titles.
  • Don’t spell out courtesy titles, except for “Doctor” in the case of medical doctors.
  • Consider using both partners’ full legal names. If you prefer to go by a nickname, use it on the save the date or other, less formal pieces of the invitation suite.
  • If a nickname is the only name guests will recognize you by, use it in addition to a legal first name.
  • Drop the bride’s and/or groom’s middle names if they become too long to fit on one line.

Etiquette for Names and Titles of Divorced Parents

  • To include divorced parents on the invitation—either for the bride or the groom—include the mother’s name first followed by the father’s name on a separate line without an “and” separating them:
    • Ms. Pamela Tate Mr. Fred Jacobsen
  • For divorced mothers who are not remarried, use the courtesy title “Ms.” followed by whichever last name she prefers (maiden or married).
  • To include stepparents on the invitation—for either the bride or the groom—list the mother and stepfather’s names first, followed by the father and stepmother’s names:
    • Mr. and Mrs. William Peterson Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jacobsen
  • List the mother first regardless if the father is remarried and the mother is not:
    • Ms. Pamela Jacobsen Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jacobsen
  • If both partners’ parents are remarried, and all are hosting or would like to be recognized, consider using one of the following phrases if your invitation doesn’t have room to list four sets of parents:
    • The families of Partner 1 and Partner 2 invite you to...
    • Together with their families...
  • The bride should consider including her last name if multiple sets of parents, with different last names, come before her on the invitation.

Etiquette for Names and Titles of Deceased Parents

  • To include a deceased parent, use the phrase “the late” preceding his or her name:
    • Mr. Bride’s Father
      requests the pleasure of your company
      at the marriage of his daughter
      Bride’s Name
      daughter of the late Mrs. Bride’s Mother
      to
      Groom’s Name

  • For a set of deceased parents, the same phrase would apply:
    • Mr. and Mrs. Bride’s Parents
      requests the pleasure of your company
      at the marriage of their daughter
      Bride’s Name
      to
      Groom’s Name
      son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Groom’s Parents

  • If a bride’s or groom’s mother has remarried following the death of a spouse, include his or her remarried name (and the name of the new spouse, if you choose), but use “her” or “his” to describe the daughter/son, rather than “their”:
    • Mr. and Mrs. William Peterson
      requests the pleasure of your company
      at the marriage of her daughter
      Bride’s Name
      daughter of the late Mr. Fred Jacobsen
      to
      Groom’s Name

Etiquette for Names and Titles of Same-Sex Parents

  • To include the names of two fathers with different last names, use the courtesy title “Mr.” and list their names in alphabetical order by last name:
    • Mr. Father #1 and Mr. Father #2
  • To include the names of two fathers with the same last name, use the courtesy title “Mr.” and list their names in alphabetical order by first name:
    • Mr. Michael and Mr. Sean Flannigan
  • To include the names of two mothers with different last names, use the courtesy title “Mrs.” (or “Ms.” if they prefer) and list their full names in alphabetical order:
    • Mrs. Mother #1 and Mrs. Mother #2
  • To include the names of two mothers with the same last name, use the courtesy title “Mrs.”and list their first names in alphabetical order:
    • Mrs. Elizabeth and Mrs. Jane Randall-Smith

Etiquette for Dates

  • Spell out the date for formal invitations so that guests do not transpose numbers.
  • Use this format to spell out the date: the day of the week + comma + the day of the month + “of” + the month:
    • Friday, the twenty-ninth of April
  • Spell out the year if you decide to include it:
    • Two thousand and eighteen
  • While not necessary for casual invitations, spelling out dates is acceptable regardless of formality.

Etiquette for Times

  • Spell out time for formal invitations, and write it as the placement of hands on a clock instead of saying “fifteen” or “thirty”:
    • half past four
    • quarter to six
  • Don’t use a.m. or p.m.—spell out the time of day and add one of the below phrases:
    • in the morning: all hours before 11:00 a.m.
    • in the afternoon: hours from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • in the evening: all hours after 5:00 p.m.
  • Instead of “twelve o’clock,” say “noon.”

Etiquette for Locations

  • Include the ceremony location, using the full address for out-of-town guests:
    • First Methodist Church
      260 East Market Street
      OurTown, State

  • If at a private residence, include the name of the homeowners:
    • at the residence of
      Mr. and Mrs. Charles Darwin
      260 East Market Street
      OurTown, State

  • Include the reception location, if different than the ceremony, on a separate card for formal invitations.
  • For less formal invitations, include the reception location on the invitation after the ceremony location:
    • Reception immediately following the ceremony
      The Common House
      285 East Market Street
      OurTown, State

  • Listing a complete address is not necessary if the location is a well-known institution with only one location:
    • Brooklyn Museum of Art
      Brooklyn, NY

  • Don’t make your guests guess. Include everything they need to show up at the right place at the right time.

What To Write On Your Wedding Invitations

Now that you know the four main components of invitation wording—the host line, the couple’s names, the information, and the party line—and the general dos and don’t for wedding invitation wording etiquette, you can determine what you’ll actually write on your wedding invitations. Here are some wedding invitation wording examples, with suggestions for all kinds of different situations, that we hope inspire you.

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

Check out Arthur

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

Traditional, Couple and 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 and 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

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

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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