Guide to Wedding Stationery Etiquette

Using the most appropriate wording in your wedding invitations, wedding programs, and other key wedding stationery.

Guide to Wedding Stationery Etiquette and Wording
Choose the most appropriate wording for flawless wedding invitations.

Your wedding invitations and other printed materials are your guests' first impression of your big day. Keep the following etiquette and wording tips in mind for picture-perfect wedding stationery.

The Wedding Invitation
* Traditionally, a wedding invitation font is an "engraved" or script style, though technically you can use any font.

* Write out first, middle and last names for yourself and your groom. Do not use middle initials.

* Spell out all words, including the time (i.e. "two o'clock" and "New York"), except for titles such as "Mr." or "Mrs."

* If a couple is acting as the hosts--generally, this will be the bride's parents--use the format, "Mr. and Mrs. John Jameson request the honor of your presence at the marriage (or "wedding," or "ceremony") of their daughter Jane Elizabeth Jameson and John Marcus Doe at their marriage on (date) (time) at (location)".

* If the couple is making their own announcement, use the format, "Miss Jane Elizabeth Jameson and Mr. John Marcus Doe request the honor of your presence...". Alternately, the invitation can read, "Together with their families, Miss Jane Elizabeth Jameson and Mr. John Marcus Doe request...".

* If a divorced and not remarried person is hosting, begin the phrasing with "Ms. Hedda Jameson requests...". If a widowed person is hosting, state, "Mrs. John Jameson requests..."

* If both sets of parents are hosting, group their names on the invitation as follows: First line: "Mr. and Mrs. John Jameson"; second line: "and"; third line: "Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Smith"; next lines: "request the honor of..." etc.

* Remember to put "reception to follow" information on your invitations.

* Informal weddings, non-religious (i.e. not in a church or synagogue) weddings or daytime weddings leave more room for creativity in wording. Ask friends, get a book from the library or look online for unique and interesting ways to word less formal wedding invitations.

RSVP Cards and Envelopes
* Match the font style and template to the one you have chosen for your invitations.

* Wording for the RSVP card is generally very simple. Starting with the letter M so that your invitee can finish it as "Mr.," "Miss," etc., insert a long line so the invitee may fill in his or her name. The next line should have the words "accepts" and "declines", along with a space next to each so that the guest can check off one.

* If a meal choice must be made in advance, the RSVP card is the place to put this option as well.

* A small piece of paper with printed directions to the wedding ceremony and reception can be a huge help, especially if out-of-town guests are invited.

* Include a pre-stamped envelope with the RSVP card for your invitee's convenience.

Thank You Cards
* The outside of your thank you note can be in any font, and any style. Pour your creativity into this one--it should have a more "personalized" feel than any of your other wedding materials.

* Hand write your thank you cards. Never send a generic, pre-printed "thank you for your gift" note without something personal written inside in your own hand.

* Send your thank you cards two to four weeks following the wedding.

The Wedding Program
* Choose a template that matches the feel of your wedding. Formal weddings should have a formal style program; a contemporary program should have clean, interesting lines or borders; a themed border or images are appropriate for a theme wedding program.

* List the wedding events--such as prayers or special songs--first. The names of the bridal party are printed next. Last come acknowledgments, special thank-yous and information on where the reception is to be held.

Wedding Day Menus
* Have a menu placed above each place setting at your reception, out of the way of the plate, glass and cutlery but within reach of the guest.

* Choose a template that includes a border or page decorations and/or embellishments, but don't add so much detail that the food information is lost among the clutter. Keep it simple and classy.

* List the foods and add a note at the bottom that special food considerations or allergies should be stated to the wait staff and that accommodations will be made if possible.

* If you are presenting the menu because you are offering more than one food choice, do not ask or state that the guest should check off one option. Simply list the foods; the wait staff will ask each guest individually for his or her choice when they come to take orders.

Wedding Announcements
There may be guests you are unable to invite--for instance, those living too far away to travel to your destination--with whom you'd like to share your happy news. Announcements are always sent after the wedding and state that the bride and groom were married on such-and-such a date. Don't forget the friends who were unable to celebrate your special day; give them this opportunity to respond with a note or call of congratulations.

The Little Extras
In addition to the above ideas, consider printing place card settings and/or special tags for wedding favors. These extras will add a personal touch and will be very memorable to your guests.

Get creative and put your own special touch on all your wedding stationery for a day you'll always remember.

Written by: Melanie Henson