A guide to how to correctly word, address and assemble your wedding invitations

Here are some questions to think of before you start on the wording for your wedding invitations:

  1. Is your wedding going to be formal or informal?
  2. Who’s hosting the wedding?
  3. Have either your parents or your fiance’s parents remarried?
  4. Do any of your guests have titles, such as Captain or Dr?
  5. Do you have every guest’s mailing address?
  6. Do you know which of your guest’s children are under 18 (if invited)?

Apart from inviting guests, is there any other purpose to wedding invitations?

Yes! It’s true that the main objective of your wedding invitation is to make sure that guests know four basic things: Who, What, When, and Where so they can all be there on your magic day. However your wedding invitations are actually more than just simple invites to a happy event; they are also a defining visual statement that sends an important message about you, even before the guest reads the words.

The invitations you send out convey a sense of who you are as a couple and what sort of wedding you’re planning. The formality and tone of your wedding event is conveyed through by the quality and feel of the paper, the letter font you use, its color and style, the additional embellishments you include such as borders, flourishes, ribbons, seals, linings, etc.

And it’s partly because of this telling-people-who-you-are-as-a-couple significance of wedding invitations that people still use this wonderful traditional method of inviting guests by sending them an invitation, rather than sending them an email or a phone message or inviting them in person when they meet.

In general, the more formal your wedding, the more formal will be the wedding invitations. Whether formal or informal, most wedding invitations are printed on a good quality cream, or white heavyweight card using a classic letter style such as Times Roman or Copperplate. For formal weddings they are sometimes engraved and traditionally written in the third person style, such as “The honor of your presence is requested”. Informal weddings tend to use more first person plural style, such as “We invite you to share our joy”.

If your wedding is more informal, you can customize your wedding invitations with more informal language and a wider range of style to make them more unique, more indicative of your values and who you are as a couple.

Who sends out the wedding invitations?

Traditionally the bride’s parents would issue the unique wedding invitations, because typically they would host their daughter’s wedding. However these days, more and more couples are paying for their own weddings and the costs are split so everyone can help the couple in the best way possible.

The reasoning behind couples paying for their own wedding is that nowadays couples are more financially able to cover the costs. No longer does the bride live at home, taken care of by her father, until the day she marries someone who can then take care of her. Women take care of themselves and, so the reasoning goes, they can and should contribute.

Usually the wording of the wedding invitations will suggest who is considered the host and it is the host who issues the invitation. And even if the couple is covering the entire cost of the wedding, it is not incorrect to use the traditional language of the invitation that suggests the invitations come from their parents. Many couples choose to use this style out of respect for their parents and tradition.

What is the correct wedding invitation wording?

  1. When the bride’s parents are hosting:

    Doctor and Mrs. James Stockwell request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Marion Rose Stockwell to Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries, etc.

  2. When the bride’s parents are hosting and the groom’s parents are included:

    Mr. and Mrs. James Stockwell request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Marion Rose Stockwell to Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries, son of Mr. and Mrs. Randall Jeffries, etc

  3. When both parents are hosting:

    Mr. and Mrs. James Stockwell and Mr. and Mrs. Randall Jeffries request the honor of your presence at the marriage of Marion Rose Stockwell to Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries, etc.

  4. The bride or groom wish to honor a deceased parent:

    Mrs. James Stockwell requests the honor of your presence at the marriage of her daughter Marion Rose Stockwell also daughter of the late Mr. James Stockwell to Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries son of Mr. and Mrs. Randall Jeffries (or son of Mr. Randall Jeffries and the late Mrs. Jane Jeffries).

    Or, Marion Rose Stockwell daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Stockwell (or daughter of Mrs. Sharon Stockwell and the late Mr. James Stockwell) and Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries son of Mr. and Mrs. Randall Jeffries (or son of Mr. Randall Jeffries and the late Mrs. Jane Jeffries) request the honor of your presence, etc.

  5. When the bride’s stepfather is hosting along with the mother:

    Mr. and Mrs. Denis Walker request the honor of your presence at the marriage of her daughter Marion Rose Stockwell to Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries, etc. 
NOTE: If her stepmother were hosting with her father, “at the marriage of ‘her’ daughter would be changed to ‘his’ daughter’’.

  6. An invitation issued by the couple to the wedding and reception:

    The honor of your presence is requested at the marriage of Marion Rose Stockwell to Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries Saturday, the fourth of March at five o’clock, Veteran’s Memorial Center Davis, And afterward at the reception,RSVP

    For less formal weddings, the phrase: “is requested at the marriage of” can be changed to “invite you to the wedding of.” It may begin with “Please join us to celebrate” or “We hope you will join us”.

  7. A custom, informal invitation, reflecting the couple:

    Marion Rose Stockwell and Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries invite you to share their joy at their wedding, etc.

  8. The couple is issuing the invitation, but honoring their parents:

    Marion Rose Stockwell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Stockwell and Stephen Michael Jeffries, son of Mr. and Mrs. Randall Jeffries request the honor of your presence, etc.

    Not all invitations must be formal or informal cards as mentioned above. A nice handwritten letter could be an alternative if your wedding is a small intimate affair. An email message could be very similar.

  9. Handwritten or Email Invitations:

    Dear John and Kathy, Stephen Jeffries and I will be married on March 4, at three o’clock at our home, with a buffet reception following the ceremony. Please come and celebrate with us. Warm regards, Marion Stockwell

Do I need wedding reception invitations?

Many couples prefer to include their reception information on the wedding invitation. However, there are times when a separate invitation to a wedding reception just makes sense. Reception invitations are often used when a reception is being held at a different time than the wedding, or when some guests are invited to the reception but not to the wedding.

Many times divorced parents will split the invitations, with one issuing the wedding invitation and the other issuing the reception invitation. This is appropriate when both the mother and father of the bride are hosting the wedding. Additionally, the reception invitation can include information, not mentioned on the wedding invitation, about formal attire, such as black tie. Typically, no other dress code is mentioned.

The pleasure of your company is requested at the wedding reception of Marion Rose Stockwell and Mr. Stephen Michael Jeffries Friday, the fourth of May at three o'clock, Location, (Optional: Black tie requested) RSVP, Address.

NOTE: This example is also very useful for reception invitations for those who wish to have a destination wedding and also plan a reception in their hometown after the wedding. It is considered impolite to invite guests to a wedding and not to the reception. This is implying that some guests are important enough to entertain and some are not.

What’s the Reply or Response Card for?

You may not know this but in fact a reply card is relatively new. That’s because traditionally a formally handwritten guest's reply letter was the most common way a guest would reply. However nowadays, for expediency and convenience we now include response cards in nearly all invitations. Plus, unfortunately many people have lost the art of writing a formal response letter today. In the past, it was considered impolite to assume your guest didn't know how to write one.

In order to keep track of who responds and who does not, make a list of your guests with a number assigned to each name. Mark the corresponding number in pencil on the back of each response card. You will know quickly who has and has not replied. If you choose not to use a reply card, which is also known as a RSVP card, you would simply send a small card with your RSVP information stating, “The favor of a reply is requested by June 20, 2015,” or write it on your reception invitation. A formal response should be returned to the bride on the guest’s personal stationery.

NOTE: Remember to put a postage stamp on the response card envelope before assembling the invitations and placing them into the envelopes.

How do I write a formal response to a wedding invitation?

Ms. Jennifer Pleasance accepts with pleasure your kind invitation for Sunday, the twentieth of June. Or, regrets that she is unable to accept.

NOTE: Using email responses is also relatively new and is appropriate for informal but never formal weddings. Because it is so new and some guests may not be comfortable with sending emails for a wedding reply, it is always best to include a physical address to reply to also.

7 things to remember when assembling your wedding invitations:

You may have a number of enclosures, with which you will need to stuff your envelopes—separate reception invitations, response cards, directions, maps, resort or hotel information, etc.

  1. Lay everything out in the order in which each will be placed into the envelope, making sure that you have the same amount of each item.

  2. Enclosures can be placed on top of or inside of the invitation card or if you are using a pocket folder style of wedding invitation, you can place these additional cards into the pocket provided. With multi-fold invitations in which the printing is on the inside, the enclosures are placed inside the first fold.

  3. All enclosures should be placed facing the back flap of the envelope on top of the invitation, so the guest can read each as she opens the invitation

  4. Remember, the order of the enclosures goes like this: most important on the bottom to least important on top. For example: the Invitation (on bottom), then Vellum or tissue, if used, then the Reception invitation, then the Response card on top.

  5. Response envelope is placed behind the response card with the printing of the names facing up toward the back of the outer envelope.

  6. If there are other enclosures such as maps, at-home cards, or name cards, these are placed in order of size inside the envelope.

  7. If using an inner envelope, the printing on this would be facing the back of the outer envelope so the guest reads this as she is opening it. 

When should I mail out my wedding invitations?

These should be mailed six to eight weeks before your wedding date—at least eight weeks for out of town guests. However, before mailing all of your invitations assemble a test sample, including all of your enclosures. Have it weighed for correct postage.

How do I address wedding invitation envelopes?

Addressing your envelope is just as important as your invitations and has its own set of etiquette rules. Your envelopes should be handwritten unless your printer can duplicate handwriting. These need to ‘look’ handwritten. Some couples choose to hire a calligrapher for an elegant appearance to the envelope address. We suggest you try and avoid using computer generated labels if possible as these look too business-like and spoil the effect of the invitation you’re trying to create.

Current addresses, including zip codes, are particularly important as all of your invitations should be mailed, even those addressed to parents.

Please do not abbreviate streets, cities, and states—DC is one exception. 

Saint and Mount can be written in full or abbreviated as St. and Mt.

Do not seal the outer envelopes until all envelopes are ‘stuffed’. If any enclosures were forgotten, it will be easier to fix.!input.action is an extremely helpful site for finding proper zip codes.

Ask for hand canceling of your invitations. There is usually an extra charge but it will preserve the look of your envelope.

Traditionally, especially for formal weddings, two envelopes are used, the inner and outer envelopes. An inner envelope is not necessary, but is very helpful. This is the best method to inform your guests exactly who is invited and who is not so as to avoid confusion. If you have decided not to use the inner envelope and you want to include an entire family, you may write “and family”.

Please use this same style if you wish to give your guest the opportunity to bring an escort. You may write “and guest” on the outside of the outer envelope. The main reason why this is not the preferred method is because your guest might bring more people than you expect. “And family” to your guests may include parents who do not live with them.  

How do I address my wedding guests on the envelope?

  1. Traditional address for married couple
    Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
    Mr. and Mrs. David Morrison Mr. and Mrs. Morrison
    3790 Happy Lane  
    Davis, California 95616  
  2. Traditional address for married couple with children you’re inviting
    Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
    Mr. and Mrs. David Morrison Mr. and Mrs. Morrison
    3790 Happy Lane Stephen, Jane, and Robert
    Davis, California 95616  

    NOTE: Children are listed by age, older to younger.

    Children over the age of 18 should be sent their own invitation.

    Children are not mentioned on outer envelope. 

  3. A couple who live together, but have different last names:
    Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
    Mr. James Morrison Mr. Morrison and Ms. Stone
    Ms. Jennifer Stone  

    NOTE: If the couple is married, there would be an “and” between the names on the outer envelope. Notice also that the names are written in alphabetical order—gender is not an issue.

  4. Siblings or other adults living at the same address:
    Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
    Mr. James Morrison Mr. Morrison (and guest)
    Ms. Jennifer Stone Ms. Stone (and guest)

    List names alphabetically. Unmarried females can be listed as Ms. or Miss. Divorced women can be listed as Ms. or Mrs. All men over the age of 18 should be addressed as Mr. 

  5. Married woman using a professional title:   Mr. James Morrison
    Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
    Dr. Shannon Morrison Dr. Morrison and Mr. Morrison

    NOTE: The ‘and’ is not used on the outer envelope. If they are both doctors, the outer and inner envelopes would read, The Doctors Morrison.

  6. Close Family and Friends:
    Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
    Mr. and Mrs. James Morrison Shannon and James Morrison

    NOTE: You may use familiar titles or nicknames on the inner envelope, such as Auntie, or Tim instead of Timothy.

Some Do’s and Don’ts about wedding invitations


  1. Use labels on your invitation envelopes

  2. Use nicknames on the outer envelope

  3. Use abbreviations for cities, states, and streets 

  4. Write first name and addresses on the inner envelope

  5. Glue the inner envelope

  6. Hand deliver invitations


  1. Hand write envelopes

  2. Use an initial if you do not know the full names

  3. Use only these abbreviations: Mr, Mrs, Ms, Jr, Dr.

  4. Write titles and last names on the inner envelope

  5. Mail children over the age of 18 their own invitation 

How do I address the inner envelope of my wedding invitations?

Forms of Address on the Outer envelope and Inner envelope:

  1. Clergy member: The Reverend Michael Smith, The Reverend Smith (With degree) The Reverend Doctor Michael Smith, The Reverend Doctor Smith, The Reverend Michael Smith, Ph.D.

  2. Rabbi: Rabbi Carroll Cohen, Rabbi Cohen (With degree), Rabbi Carroll Cohen, D.D., Dr. Cohen

  3. Physician: Jennifer Stone, M.D., Dr. Stone

  4. Professor: Professor Jennifer Stone, Professor Stone
(With degree) Jennifer Stone, Ph.D.,

  5. Judge: The Honorable David Smith, Judge Smith

  6. Army Officer: Captain Michael Stone, Captain Stone, United States Army  

  7. Navy Officer: Commander Michael Smith, Commander Smith, United States Navy