Your wedding invitation is the first impression that your guests will get of your wedding. You will want to be certain that the wording you use is accurate and makes use of proper etiquette, as well. No need to run out and buy a book from the stationer; this is your quick and easy guide to wedding invitation wording.
The language on your wedding invitations should match the formality of your invitation stationery, which in turn should match the formality and general style of your wedding. Just as you would not send out an e-vite to a black tie affair where the bride is wearing a custom full ballgown with fancy bridal jewelry, nor would you send a traditional engraved notice for a wedding taking place in a rustic barn with the bride wearing a linen dress and handcrafted custom bridal jewelry. Everything needs to be in harmony. The precise wording that you choose for your invitations will convey almost as much meaning as the look of them will.
Perhaps the most important thing to know about composing your wedding invitations is that “pleasure of your company” denotes a secular ceremony, and “honour of your presence” (usually spelled the British way with the “u” in honor) is reserved for a ceremony in a house of worship. So in a nutshell, if you are not being wed in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, use “pleasure of your company”. Not only is is correct, but it will give your guests a hint about the wedding service (assuming that they are familiar with the correct form, of course).
The most traditional form of a wedding invitation is one that shows the bride’s parents as hosts. Therefore, the invitation usually begins with, “Mr. and Mrs. Roger Smith / request the pleasure of your company (or honor of your presence) / at the marriage of their daughter” Then it goes on to let the guests know who is actually getting married and to whom: “Jessica Anne / to Mr. Henry Andrew Martin”. Not much less important is then when: “on Saturday, the first of September / at one o’clock in the afternoon “. And last but not least, is the where: “Westport Yacht Club”.
The traditional form is great if it works for your circumstances, but in many cases, it does not quite fit. Luckily, etiquette is aware of this, and provides the necessary options to make it all make sense. First of all, it is no longer safe to assume that the bride’s parents are still married. When they are divorced, the invitation begins this way: “Mrs. Reynolds Smith / Mr. Roger Smith” are printed on two separate lines. New spouses can also be added with the bride’s parents’ names. In addition, while it is customary to list only the bride’s first and middle names, in these days of blended families, she may not have the same last name as the hosts of the wedding. If that is the case, it would be sensible to list her full name so that the guests know exactly whose nuptials they have been invited to witness.
Keep in mind, that being listed as a host does not necessarily mean that the bride’s parents are footing the bill. The invitation can still use the traditional wording even when other financial arrangements have been made. However, it is quite common now for the bride and groom to host their own wedding. The proper way to word the invitation is “The honour of your presence (or “pleasure of your company”) is requested at the marriage of Miss Jessica Anne Smith to Mr. Henry Andrew, etc.”. This form can be very useful when the couple between them has too many parents, step-parents, and so forth to fit on a standard size wedding invitation. It can also be a life saver when the groom’s parents are splitting the wedding expenses with the bride’s family, and there is squabbling about who should get “top billing”, as it were.
Finally, you should be sure to either add a request for a response in the lower left hand corner of the invitation (either “R.s.v.p.” or “the favour of a rely is requested”) or include a separate response card. After you have gone to so much trouble to get your invitations issued correctly, it would be nice to know who will actually be showing up at the wedding!