Etiquette

According to Webster’s dictionary, etiquette is: the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.

We have included here some points of etiquette for wedding invitations and the associated stationery. Keep in mind these are included as guidelines and your individual situation may call for different words or action.

There are so many styles of invitations. How do I choose?
There are many considerations in choosing your wedding stationery. Your invitations are the first indication your guests will receive about the style and formality of your wedding, so you want to be sure they complement your wedding style. Traditional and Classic invitations are the most appropriate styles for a Formal wedding. Couples having a Semi-formal wedding may feel most comfortable sending Classic or Contemporary invitations. Whimsical and Western invitations are perfect for Semi-formal to Casual weddings.

Also important is your choice of color. If you have already chosen your wedding colors, you will want to be sure that the color on the invitations, and the envelope linings available will be compatible with your wedding colors. You may also want to choose an invitation which depicts your wedding flowers.

Finally, your budget is a determining factor in choosing a wedding invitation ensemble. You should expect to spend approximately 2-3% of your wedding budget on your invitations.

What is the difference between Engraving and Thermography?
Engraving is the traditional method of printing wedding and social stationery in which a copper plate is etched with the wording of your invitation and the paper is pressed into the impressions on the plate and the ink adheres to the raised lettering on the paper. Engraving is generally used for invitations to Ultra-Formal Weddings. Engraving is available on some invitations from Invitations4Less.com. Contact us for styles available.

Thermography is a newer form of raised printing that is designed to appear similar to engraving and is less expensive to produce. Rather than etching a copper plate, the lettering is formed by mixing ink with dry particles and the lettering rests on top of the paper. Many brides are choosing thermography for its affordability and elegant appearance. Most wedding styles are perfectly appropriate for the use of thermography.

Who issues the wedding invitations?
Traditionally, it was always the bride’s parents who issued wedding invitations. Today, that has changed for many brides. Older brides who are established in their careers or who are marrying for the second time prefer to issue their own invitations in conjunction with their fiancé. See Sample Wording for ideas on how to word your invitations if this, or any other unusual situation applies to you.

Many brides become concerned over the issue of who is paying for the wedding and how the wording of the invitation should be written. In tradition, it is always appropriate for the bride’s parents to issue the invitations. If preferred, the parties who are paying for the reception may issue the invitation on your reception cards. Example: Mr. and Mrs. John Doe request the pleasure of your company at the marriage reception.

My father/mother is a medical doctor/military officer. Should he/she use his/her title on the invitation?
Medical doctors use their professional titles but Doctor should be written out and not abbreviated. If both parents are doctors, they may be listed as The Doctors Doe OR Doctor Jane Smith Doe and Doctor John Michael Doe. Doctor is always spelled out unless long names and limited space require abbreviation.

Military officers with the rank of captain or higher in the army, air force or marines and with the rank of commander or higher in the coast guard and navy use their titles. Military titles should always be spelled out.

My parents are divorced. How do I word my invitations?
It is still appropriate for your parents to issue your invitations and if you would like to word your invitations with your parents issuing you may choose to list your parents on separate lines with your mother first. Do not include the word “and” between them so as not to imply that they are still married.

If one or both parents have remarried and wish to include the names of your stepparents on the invitations, simply list Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Allen Jones and Mr. and Mrs. John Michael Doe request the honour of your presence…

My father passed away and I would like to include his name on the invitation. How can this be done?
This is a difficult situation because there is no way your father can be issuing an invitation after his death. If you wish to do so, you may want to issue the invitations yourselves with “daughter of Mrs. Jane Smith Jones and the late Mr. John Michael Doe. In the Hispanic tradition, the parents’ names are listed as issuers of the invitation with a cross (or star of David) next to the deceased person’s name.

What is the difference between Honor and Honour?
Both words have the same meaning. Honour is the English spelling of the word and is preferred by many brides for its formality.

What is the difference between “Request the honour of your presence” and “Request the pleasure of your company”?
Both are request lines for your invitations. Traditionally, the word “honour” was used only when a wedding was held in a house of worship and the “pleasure of your company” would be used when a couple was marrying in a secular setting.

Should I include the year in my date line?
Most people will assume that you are not sending out your invitations over a year in advance, so it is certainly not necessary to include the year in your date line. However, if you will be saving your invitation as a keepsake of your wedding and would like to include the year, it is certainly appropriate to do so. The year, however, must be spelled out; Two Thousand, as is true of the time of day.

How should we indicate that our wedding is being held at home?
Simply indicate the street address, city and state of the home on your invitation; 2000 Carlisle Avenue, Anytown, Anystate. Street titles and states should always be spelled out.

I am having a very small ceremony with a much larger reception. How do I invite people only to the reception?
The best way to handle this situation is to word your large invitations to invite guests to the reception: Mr. and Mrs. John Michael Doe/request the pleasure of your company/ at the wedding reception of their daughter/Jessica Marie/and/Mr. Jonathon Allen Smith/Saturday, the seventeenth of June, Two Thousand/.

Ceremony cards would be inserted in the invitations of those you wish to invite to the ceremony.  See Sample Wording

Why are there always two envelopes?
Back in the days before the U.S. Postal service, when “mail” was delivered by hand by servants, the servant in your home would receive the message and remove it from it’s outer envelope before delivering it to the addressee. For this reason, we address the outer envelope and furnish the inner envelope only with the recipients names.

What is the proper way to address my envelopes?
The proper way to address an envelope is to spell out everything possible. You may abbreviate Mr. and Mrs. for space purposes, however you should always spell out street names and titles such as “Street” and “Avenue”. Also, always spell out state names. Numbers for the street address may be written out if they are short enough or may be written in numeral form for the convenience of the letter carriers. Always write the zip code in numerals as zip codes are machine sorted and it would cause great delay to write them out.

Inner envelopes should list the names of the recipients by use of their surnames; Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. Children under the age of 18 are listed under their parents’ names.

Is it OK to indicate “and family” on the outer envelope?
It is not proper to indicate “and family” on the outer envelope. Children under the age of 18 should be listed by name under their parent’s names on the inner envelope.

In what case do children receive their own invitation?
Children over the age of 18 should have a separate invitation issued to them, even if they reside with their parents.

What if I don’t want children at my wedding?
There is no proper way to indicate on your wedding invitations that children are not welcome. Simply omitting their names on the inner envelopes should be sufficient. However, for some people this may not be a strong enough hint.

Many brides have begun to indicate on their reception cards “Adult Reception” and this seems to be an effective communication of your desire to have an adults-only wedding.

What is the proper way to invite an escort for my single guests?
The most proper, and thoughtful, way to include a guest for your guests is to contact them and find out if there is a steady person in their lives and send a separate invitation to that person at their own home. However, in cases where this is not possible, simply indicating “and guest” or “and escort” on the inner envelope is sufficient.

What if two of my unmarried guests are living together?
Simply address the outer envelope with each of their names prior to the address, with the lady’s name on the first line.

To whom should we send announcements and when are they sent?
Wedding announcements are sent to anyone who you were unable to invite to the wedding but you would like to “announce” the marriage. They should be mailed anytime after the wedding takes place up to a year after. The day after the wedding is most appropriate if circumstances permit.

Wedding announcements should be printed on the same paper as the rest of your invitation ensemble and can be printed at the same time. Sample wording for wedding announcements is shown on the Sample Wording page.

Do I need to use reception cards?
Reception cards are generally used only when the reception will be held at a different location than the ceremony. Otherwise, placing that additional information on the invitation will make the whole invitation appear “crowded”.

If the reception is being held at the same location as the ceremony and you wish to include that information on your invitations, simply include the line “and at the reception afterwards” at the end of your invitation.

Is it proper to include response cards?
The answer to this question depends on whom you ask. Technically, guests should know to respond with a handwritten letter when the letters R.s.v.p. appear in the lower left hand corner of the invitation copy. Many brides, however, simply can’t risk not having an accurate guest count and feel they must use response cards. As time goes by, response cards are becoming more and more the accepted means of securing the r.s.v.p. count. By all means, if you use them, make sure to include postage on the envelopes.

For those brides who feel uncomfortable using response cards but are concerned about receiving responses, you may consider sending informal cards with the words “The favour of a reply is requested” printed on the front. Your guests may then choose to use that card to hand-write a reply inside.

What is a “Save the Date” card?
A “Save the Date” card is a card on the same paper as your invitation ensemble which announces the date of your impending nuptials. They are used when you have many out-of-town guests that may need to be notified more in advance allowing them to make their travel plans, or when your wedding will fall on a holiday weekend to notify friends and family to reserve that date for your wedding. Suggested wording can be: Please save the date of/ Saturday, the Seventeenth of June/ Two Thousand/ for the wedding of Miss Jessica Marie Doe to Mr. Jonathan Allen Smith/Mr. and Mrs. John Michael Doe

You may want to include the city your wedding will be held in if different from your home city. This would be placed on the line between the groom’s name and the parents’ names.

How can we indicate where we are registered for gifts?
There is no proper way to include this information within your wedding invitations, as it appears presumptuous. The most proper way to get this information out to your guests is for your Bridal Shower hosts to include it in the bridal shower invitation and to ask your family members to share the information with guests if they ask prior to the wedding.

What are “Within the Ribbon” and “Pew” Cards?
For large weddings, you may wish to designate a special place for guests you want to be seated nearest to you. Ribbons or cords are placed over the ends of the first several pews to reserve those seats for those closest to you. You should include a “within the ribbon” card in these guest’s invitation, to be presented to the ushers when they are seated.

Similarly, pew cards indicate the pew number the guests should be seated in. They are worded: Please present this card at/Saint John’s Catholic Church/Saturday, the seventeenth of June/Pew number ______. You would then complete and enclose it within the invitation for the guests to give to the ushers on your wedding day.

How can we include a map or directions in our invitation?
You have carefully chosen your invitations and you should not ruin the look by including a photocopy of the directions or map. Inexpensive map and directions cards are available from the printers in paper to complement your invitation ensemble.

What is the proper way to thank our guests?
You may wish to have matching, personalized thank you cards ordered with your invitation ensemble. These can either be printed with your new Mr. and Mrs. names, just your first names, your monogram or “thank you” on the front. Any card with your names on the front is called an “informal” and can be used for other purposes than just for thank you notes. These are, therefore, the most versatile. You should always write a short note of gratitude on the inside and send the notes within three months of the wedding.

Is it OK to send out thank you notes with a verse printed inside?
Thank you notes should always be personalized in your handwriting. The notes with verses may be used as a starting point from which you then add wording describing your gratitude for the gift. If you will not be able to send your thank you notes soon after the wedding and want to get word out the your guests that you have received their gift, the verse thank you notes are appropriate to send followed up at a later date with a personal note.