Thursday, June 30, 2011

Invitation Etiquette

Have you found the most perfect invitations but you're not quite sure how to word it or address specific individuals? Are you wondering how much time you should give your invited guests to RSVP? Today's post discusses proper wedding invitation etiquette and answers important but common questions you may have when drafting those invites.

Courtesy of the Knot:

Q. How far in advance should you send wedding invitations? What is the proper date to ask for the reply card?A. Ideally, invitations should go out six weeks before the wedding -- that gives guests plenty of time to clear their schedules for the day and make travel arrangements if they are out-of-towners. It also lets you make the RSVP date a little earlier -- say three weeks before the wedding date -- so you can get a final head count and start making a seating chart (if you'll have one) before the final-week-before-the-wedding crunch begins. At the very latest, guests should receive wedding invitations six weeks in advance, and you should get responses back two weeks before the big day.

Q. We're in a tizzy over announcements versus invitations. The groom grew up in a very small town 2,000 miles away from the wedding city. We're afraid that feelings will be hurt if we don't invite everyone from his hometown, but we know the trip will be impossible for 95 percent of them. Help!A. Even if you're pretty sure certain guests won't be able to attend the wedding, it's a nice gesture to invite them -- who knows, they might decide to attend. And if not, they'll feel good knowing that they were invited. Wedding announcements should be used to let friends, family, and possibly professional colleagues who were not invited to the wedding for whatever reason -- budget constraints, etc. -- know that the wedding took place. Invitations are sent to those people whom the families want at the wedding. Let the recipients decide on their own whether they can attend or not. If you're right and most of them can't come, you might consider having a second reception or party in the groom's hometown after the couple returns from their honeymoon.

[Proper Wedding Invitation Wording]

Q. We are paying for our own wedding, and both of the families are giving us some money to help. We would like our invitation to show that both sets of parents (with their names mentioned) along with the bride and groom are hosting the wedding. Is there a way to word this?A. There's a way to properly word anything.
Try this:
Tina Maria Smith
John Michael Douglass
together with their parents
Barbara and Robert Smith
Bob and Jane Douglass
request the honor of your presence
This wording suggests that you two are hosting in conjunction with your parents. Also, keep in mind that "hosting" can have flexible meaning. Parents can be official hosts -- they planned the party, they invited the guests, they paid -- or honorary hosts.

Q. I am coordinating a friend's wedding and have been asked to do the wording for her invitations. She and her fiance are sponsoring their own wedding, but both want to honor their parents. The bride's mother is deceased; however, she wants her mother's name to appear on the invitation. What is the proper way to do this? Is it proper to mention a deceased parent in this way?A. The invitation is issued by those who are hosting the wedding -- someone who has passed away unfortunately can't do so. Perhaps you can suggest that she write a tribute to her mom to include in her ceremony program. Or maybe a candle is lit for her, her favorite song is played, or her favorite piece of scripture is read, and the significance is noted in the program. The bride may even want to give a toast at the reception, during which she remembers her mother. Try to explain to her that including her mom's name on the invite will seem awkward to guests; it's better to remember her mother on the occasion of the wedding, when the gesture will seem beautiful and moving, instead.
As for honoring parents on the invitation (assuming her dad is still alive), you might suggest this:
Jane Marie Darling
John Michael Rooney
together with their parents
This way, all the parents are honored (you could even argue that the spirit of mom is included in that simple sentence), but you don't get into specifics.

Q. We are having a Saturday afternoon reception that includes a cocktail hour and a full dinner. How do I let guests know that it's not just an afternoon informal brunch? I would like it to be formal attire but not black tie.A. One of the best ways to let guests in on the fact that the wedding is formal is with the invitations. Get ultra-formal, traditional ones -- on white, ivory, or ecru paper, with the wording done in black script, maybe even with a gold or silver border -- and that should do the trick. Give your guests the benefit of the doubt, too -- if they receive a formal invite from you and read where your wedding is being held, you can probably trust them to dress appropriately.

Q. We are getting married at a local hotel located on the beach. The ceremony will be held outside, with the reception following in a banquet room inside. It seems almost silly to have a separate reception card with the same location, but I have no idea how to put it all on the wedding invitation. Any ideas?A. All you have to do is add a single line to the bottom of your ceremony invitation: "Reception to follow." It's invitation parlance for "The reception is in the same place." Just make sure your ushers know where to direct guests after the ceremony, so they're all taking the most convenient route to the reception area.

[Addressing the Invite]

Q. Do couples who live together but aren't married receive a single invitation or separate invitations?A.Unmarried couples who live together receive a single invitation because they are a couple. Address it the same way you'd address the invitation of a married couple with different last names -- alphabetically, on separate lines on the outer envelope:
Ms. Janine Myers
Mr. Richard Stevenson
The inner envelope would read:
Ms. Myers and Mr. Stevenson
Janine & Richard

Q. How should you address an invitation to a widow? What about a divorced woman who has retained her married name? And what about those who are bringing significant others who do not live with them? Can I send just one invitation or do I have to send one to each of them?A. A widow is traditionally addressed as "Mrs. John Jones," but if you feel the guest may not want to be addressed that way, it's totally okay to ask her how she prefers to be addressed. A divorced woman who has kept her married name should be addressed as you suggested -- "Ms. Jane Johnson." As far as a couple who does not live together, technically you should send each their own invitation, but it's not horrible to simply send the invite to one of them -- say, the person you're closer to -- with both names listed alphabetically (each on its own line) on the outer envelope.

Q. How do you address an invitation to a married couple, both of whom are doctors?A. If a wife and husband are both doctors, the outer and inner envelopes should be addressed to: "The Doctors Rosenthal." It's that simple! If they're married, but have different last names, list both names, in alphabetical order (on separate lines): "Dr. Rosenthal" and on the next line, "Dr. Schwartz".

Q. What if the woman is a doctor and the man is not? Does the woman's name come first because of her title?A. Yes, the spouse with the professional title is listed first. Outer envelope: "Dr. Kate Randolph Mr. Brian Randolph." Or, "Dr. Kate Randolph and Mr. Brian Randolph" (if it fits on one line). The inner envelope would read: "Dr. Randolph and Mr. Randolph" or "Dr. and Mr. Randolph."

Q. We're having a small wedding. Do we have to invite Mr. Smith "and Guest"? One friend told me that if a guest is not seriously dating someone, I can just address the invite to Mr. Smith, and he'll know he's not supposed to invite someone. Is that true? What do I do if such guests reply for two anyway?A. Most guests will understand that without "and Guest" or another name on the invitation, it's meant for them alone. Especially if you are having a small wedding, you probably aren't going to invite everyone to bring an escort, unless it's a fiance(e) and/or a serious significant other. Technically, you're never supposed to write "and Guest"; instead, you should find out the name of the significant other. What to do if some clueless souls reply for two? Call them up and explain that you're having an intimate wedding and, unfortunately, you were not able to invite everyone with a guest. They should understand that.

Q. Is it improper to have the outside envelope addresses printed in a fancy font on the printer, or should they be handwritten?A. Some will say a font that looks amazingly like cursive writing is acceptable, but we don't necessarily agree. Etiquette does say that you should never print addresses with a computer, but always handwrite them. Remember, a wedding is an extremely intimate and personal event, and your invitations should reflect that. If it's a matter of time -- or you've got 500 invitations to address -- enlist the help of your mom, your sisters, your bridesmaids, and anyone else who's got nice handwriting to plow through them. It's just one of those polite, personal, I'm-a-great-hostess touches that isn't totally obvious -- unless such touches are absent, in which case they're glaringly obvious.

Q. Do you put a return address on the wedding invitations?A. You don't necessarily have to have one printed on your outer envelopes (that would probably up your invitation costs), but it's a good idea to handwrite a return address on the back flap. Just in case you get a guest's address wrong, the post office will know where to return the invitation. The return address should be that of the person whom you've designated to receive response cards -- be it the bride's mother, the groom's mother, or the couple themselves. The response card envelope or postcard should be printed with this address.

                                               The Emily Weddings Team

1 comment:

  1. My fiance's dad is remarried. Both he and his wife are ministers. My fiance' is a junior. How do we properly list them on the invitation? Rev. ___ & ___ Lastname Sr.?