Did you know that National Grammar Day was last week? That’s right…a day dedicated to those “Grammar Nazi’s” on social media that everyone loves to hate!
In our industry, it’s hard NOT to be a grammar Nazi. When many hours a week – and many customer dollars – are spent in our studio making sure that the written word looks beautiful on the perfect piece of paper, it’s understood that the spelling and grammar had better be correct, too!
It’s also the time of year when we’re seeing lots of brides, grooms and parents coming through our doors to order invitations for their summer and fall wedding celebrations. What that means is that we’re hearing many of the same questions and discussing the same topics in many different ways...the bottom line is that wording a wedding invitation can be downright confusing.
So here, in no particular order, we thought we’d share a few answers to our favorite “FAQ’s” that regularly come up in our invitation appointments!
How to format dates and times? This depends entirely on the level of formality you prefer. Each of the following is entirely appropriate:
Saturday, June 5, at 4 p.m.
Saturday, the fifth of June
Saturday, the fifth day of June
Two thousand twenty
Two thousand and twenty
at 4:00 p.m.
at 4 o’clock
at four o’clock
at four o’clock in the afternoon
at half past four in the afternoon
Should the bride and groom use their middle names? Again, it’s a matter of formality…traditionally, they are used, but today, it’s whatever makes you comfortable.
How to handle the location? If the ceremony and reception are being held at the same location, it’s traditional to list the ceremony location, with “reception to follow” or something similar underneath. If they are being held at separate locations (for example, a church followed by a banquet hall), tradition dictates that the invitation would indicate the location of the marriage ceremony, and a separate card enclosure would provide the details of the reception location (in this day and age, however, couples will sometimes opt to put both on the invitation and forego the separate card).
Should we include the street address on the invitation? Again, we speak to tradition when we say that historically, only the name of the venue and the town/state would be included on the invitation. However, with the advent of GPS, it’s become much more common to want the street address included in the invitation text.
Speaking of the reception… There are many ways to indicate “Reception to follow” on the invitation. These include such variations as, “Reception to follow immediately following the ceremony”… “Celebration to follow”… “Dinner and dancing to follow”… “Feasting and merriment to follow”…and just about any creative phrasing you might prefer. All are perfectly fine!
Dress code. If you feels there’s a risk that your guests may turn up in attire that has them feeling entirely out of place for the occasion, it can be helpful to include this information on the invitation. The five most common are “Black Tie,” “Black Tie Optional,” “Cocktail Attire,” “Daytime Attire,” and “Beach” (or similar destination descriptor) attire. This usually is included at the end of the invitation.
No children allowed. This can be a sensitive topic and is something that is best handled on the envelopes by way of how they are addressed. With a double envelope, the inside envelope would generally indicate the specific names of who’s invited (“John and Kristen,” “John and Guest,” “John, Kristen, Ben and Addy,” etc.). With the single envelopes becoming more and more popular, you can also use the outside envelope to address the invitation specifically to the individuals invited (“Mr. and Mrs. John Smith,” “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Family,” “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Benjamin and Addison Smith” and so forth). However, if you feel strongly that it’s important to indicate on your invitation that this is an adults-only occasion, or that there will be confusion, it’s best to either keep it simple (“Adults Only”) or sweet (“While we love the little ones, we appreciate your understanding that this is an adults-only celebration”) on the invite.
Gift Registry. This one is a hard “no” for us. It is considered to be in poor taste to include anything pertaining to gifts on a wedding invitation. If you’d like to provide guidance for your guests, include it on your wedding web site and/or your shower invitations.
Accommodations, transportation, web sites, etc. Unless it’s very brief and simple information, it’s best to handle these on separate cards or on your wedding web site. Nothing detracts from the appeal of a wedding invitation more quickly than trying to crowd too much text onto the page.
·Reply cards. There are as many ways to word reply cards as there are weddings! The traditional “M” with the line following it is now seen as confusing by many modern brides, as is the line indicating “will ____ attend” (what goes in that space, anyway?). We can help walk you through the many different possibilities for wording, or you can browse samples online to find what you like best. However, a few things you’ll need to know before you order are the “reply by” date (we usually suggest you take the deadline for the headcount from your venue or caterer, and subtract a few weeks to run down the stragglers!), and whether you’ll need guests to indicate a meal selection.
Guest addressing. It would be easy to fill another lengthy blog post about the ins and outs of how to address your guests and all of the myriad variations that may arise for unique situations. Again, we can help walk you through these conversations, or you can consult the many web sites on invitation etiquette if you’re looking for answers on a specific question. One bit of information worth mentioning here: you’ll want to make sure that you spell out all abbreviations on your guest addresses. This includes all state names as well as “Street,” “Road,” “Apartment,” “Post Office Box,” “In Care of” and so forth. One exception to the rule seems to be “Washington, DC”…it appears that even etiquette experts agree that “Washington, District of Columbia” is a bit unwieldy and too lengthy for most envelopes!
Putting things on the back of invitations. Today’s wedding invitation offer many beautiful designs that often continue onto the back of the paper. This can create the temptation to also continue your invitation text on the back of the page. While this can be an option for including that info that goes beyond the “basics” of the invitation, we always suggest avoiding the practice if at all possible. It’s all too easy for guests to just miss the information completely. If you feel you must use the back side of the invitation to keep with your design, we recommend that you use it for “fun” info that won’t create any issues if your guest misses it.