Courtesy of the Knot:
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.
John Michael Douglass
together with their parents
Barbara and Robert Smith
Bob and Jane Douglass
request the honor of your presence
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:
John Michael Rooney
together with their parents
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:
Mr. Richard Stevenson
Janine & Richard
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. 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.