A Complete Guide to Phrasing and Addressing Your Wedding Invitation Suite | Water to Wine Events

Your invitations are the first impression guests will have of your wedding, so it's important that they not only look beautiful, but that they're well written and communicate everything your guests need to know. How you phrase each piece in your stationery will indicate everything from who is hosting, to the date and location, and even formality of the event.

Use this as a guide to help determine what's best for your wedding, rather than set rules you must follow. You and your partner can choose to be as formal or creative as you wish!



INVITATIONS

Below are just a few of the many ways you can word your invitations. To begin, determine who's names you'll be listing on the invite...


VARIATION 1:

Only the couple's names listed. A great option when the couple (alone or along with other family) are contributing to the wedding, financially.

"Together with their families

Amelia Marie Matthews

and

Joseph Glen Johnson

Request the honor of your presence at the celebration of their marriage"


VARIATION 2:

Bride's parents listed. This option is very traditional, especially when the brides parents are financing the majority or all of the wedding costs. This is not as common as it used to be.

"Mr. and Mrs. John and Hilary Matthews

Request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter

Amelia Marie Matthews

to

Joseph Glen Johnson"

VARIATION 3:

Both sets of parents listed throughout the invitation. This option is great when both parents are hosting/contributing to the wedding budget.

"Mr. and Mrs. John and Hilary Matthews

Invite you to celebrate the marriage of their daughter

Amelia Marie Matthews

to

Joseph Glen Johnson

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew and Carole Johnson"



VARIATION 4:

Unmarried parents, both listed on the invitation. Whether one, both, or neither parent is remarried, you can list them on separate lines. They mother is listed first.

"Mr. and Mrs. Lewis and Hilary McConn

and Mr. John Matthews

Invite you to celebrate the marriage of their daughter

Amelia Marie Matthews

to

Joseph Glen Johnson

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew and Carole Johnson"


LISTING THE TIME, DATE, AND LOCATION:

Spell out the date and time. The year does not need an "and" in it. The venue does not need the address listed (though you're welcome to include it). You can list the address on your information card and on your wedding website. An ending line such as "Reception to follow" is appropriate.

"Saturday, the Thirteenth of November, Two thousand Twenty one

at half-passed six o'clock in the evening

The Bryan Museum Conservatory

Galveston, Texas

Dinner and dancing to follow"


OTHER NOTES: Your invitations can be as formal or as casual as you'd like! Don't be afraid to put your own unique spin on them, and let your guests see your personality shine through! If you have a unique family or other situation, just let us know and we are happy to assist you in creating custom invitation phrasing.


RSVP CARDS

It's important that your RSVP cards gather all the information you need, without being cluttered or confusing to their recipient.


What to include:

  • Response due date (should be 4 weeks or 31 days before the wedding date)

  • Line for name(s)

  • Declines/Accepts option + space for number of attending or space to list individual names of those attending (if you anticipate mixed responses within the same household. This is important for creating your seating chart.)

  • Meal options to be initialed (if you're having a seated dinner, initials are important for creating your seating plan)

  • Pre-addressed return envelope with postage


TIP 1: In the most discrete location possible - typically the back, bottom, corner - number your RSVPs in accordance with their Guest ID number (available in our Client Portal). Sometimes guests forgot to write in their own names, which makes it nearly impossible to track.


TIP 2: If you don't mind a writing on your RSVPs, the following wording is perfect for knowing exactly how many guests in a household are attending AND to avoid unwanted +1's. You'll fill in the number of guests invited yourself before sending the invitation.


"Your response is requested by October 3rd

M____________________________


We have reserved _2_ seats in your party's name.

__of_2_ attending

__regretfully declines


Please initial by your meal preference:

___Chicken ___Beef ___Vegan"


DETAIL AND RECEPTION CARDS

Detail or reception cards are useful when you have more information to share than can be included on your invitation. For example:

  • Your ceremony and reception are at different locations, and you need to provide guests with a map or directions;

  • You have a gap between ceremony and cocktail hour (longer than the travel time to get from location to location) and you want to give your guests an idea of what to do in the meantime;

  • You have reserved hotel blocks or shuttles;

  • You would like guests to wear specific attire;

  • You are having a child-free wedding, and do not wish to include it on the main invitation;

  • You wish to direct guests to your wedding website - ALWAYS recommended!



INVITATION ADDRESSING


Below you'll see options for both the inner and outer envelopes. Though this is the most formal and traditional option, two envelopes is not an absolute necessity. It's up to you to decide which pieces to include.


A Married Couple

On the outer envelope:

Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Sandra Smith

-or-

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Smith

-or-

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph and Sandra Smith

On the inner envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

-or-

Joe and Sandra


A Married Couple With Different Last Names

List the person you're closest with first on the outer and inner envelopes.

If you're similarly acquainted with both, list them in alphabetical order

On the outer envelope:

Mr. Joseph Smith and Mrs. Sandra Johnson

On the inner envelope:

Mr. Smith and Mrs. Johnson

-or-

Joseph and Sandra


An Unmarried Couple Living Together

As with a married couple, both names should be included on the envelopes,

but in this case, each name gets its own line.

This is traditional etiquette, but optional. You may choose to lost them the same as you would a married couple with different last names.

On the outer envelope:

Mr. Robert Hill Ms. Rebecca Wright

On the inner envelope:

Mr. Hill Ms. Wright


A Same-Sex Couple

Use the same rules you would for any other unmarried or married couple.

If the couple is married, list the names on the same line.

On the outer envelope:

Ms. Robin Benson and Ms. Jackie Foster

-or-

Robin Benson and Jackie Foster

On the inner envelope:

Ms. Benson and Ms. Foster

-or-

Robin and Jackie


A Married Woman Doctor or Two Married Doctors

If a woman uses her maiden name professionally and socially,

the envelopes should read:

On the outer envelope:

Dr. Annie Bright and Mr. Peter Blaire

If she uses her husband's name socially:

Dr. Annie and Mr. Peter Blaire

If both parties are doctors, you can address the outer envelope:

Doctors Annie and Peter Blaire

On the inner envelope:

Dr. Bright and Mr. Blaire

-or-

The Doctors Blaire


Those With Other Distinguished Titles

Apply the same rules you use for doctors for military personnel, judges, reverends and so on.

If both titles don't fit on one line, indent the second line.

On the outer envelope:

The Honorable Lisa Kelly and Lieutenant Johnathan Kelly, US Navy

If they're both captains in the military:

Captains Lisa and Johnathan Kelly, US Navy

On the inner envelope:

Judge Lisa and Lieutenant Kelly, US Navy

-or-

The Captains Kelly


An Individual with or Without a Plus 1

On the outer envelope:

Ms. Pamela Beasley

On the inner envelope:

Ms. Beasley and Guest

-or-

Pamela and Guest


If only including an outer envelope:

Ms. Pamela Beasley and Guest



Children and Families

Younger guests can be included on the inner envelope of their parents' invitation

by their name(s)—they should not be addressed on the outer envelope.

If you will only have one envelope, use the same format as the inner envelope below.

For girls under 18, use “Miss."

Boys don't need a title until they're 18—then they're addressed as "Mr."


On the outer envelope:

Mr. Jason and Mrs. Sandra Smith

On the inner envelope:

Mr. Jason and Mrs. Sandra Hughes Daniel, Jacob, Miss Bella and Miss Kylie



Children 18 and Older

Children 18 and older should receive their own invitations

(unless they're living at home with their parents).

On the outer envelope:

Ms. Audrey Kelly

-or-

Mr. Jack Kelly

On the inner envelope:

Ms. Kelly

-or-

Mr. Kelly


Recipient Address


Unless spacing doesn't allow, you should avoid abbreviations when addressing your invitations, and always use numerical caricatures when writing out the street name.


"Mr. and Mrs. Gomez and Morticia Addams

1313 Mockingbird Lane

Houston, Texas 77002"



Return Address


"Matthews-Johnson Wedding

Post Office Box 123

Houston, Texas 77002"

Note: If you don't include each child's name, you're implying that children are not invited. That said, don't be surprised if some guests still mistakenly assume their children are welcome. If you're concerned this will happen with your guests, ask your immediate family and bridal party to help spread the word that the wedding will be adults only and add the message to your wedding website. In the end, you may have to follow up with guests who don't get the message via phone to gently explain the situation.



FAQ:


Q: How many invitation suites should I order?

A: My suggestion is to order 15 more suites than you intend to send out. That leaves 2 for photographs & keepsakes, and a few extras in case you've forgotten anyone! Be sure or provide your calligrapher with additional envelopes (about 15% more) in case of errors.


Q: When should I send my invitations?

A: If you've sent out Save the Dates previously, you can send your invitations 8-10 weeks before the wedding. If you have not sent Save the Dates or if your wedding is on a holiday weekend, 9-12 weeks is more appropriate.


Q: When should the RSVP deadline be?

A: You should request RSVPs 4 weeks (or 31 days) prior to your wedding date. That gives you a few business days for stragglers to send them in and a week to follow up with anyone not confirmed before the final the headcount is due to your vendors (typically around 2-3 weeks).


Q: How do I indicate that we are having an adults-only wedding?

A: This is a tricky one! The best option is to include it in your wedding website and ask family and wedding party to politely spread the word.


If you're very concerned about guests not reading your website, you can add the line "Adults-only reception to follow" to the bottom of your invitation. Including this on your invitation is traditionally considered impolite, but is becoming more commonly accepted.



Q: How do I let guests know what to wear?

A: You can include this information on your wedding website, or on your details card. Your invitation itself should reflect the formality of your event.


NOTE: When explaining the desired dress code, keep it simple without adding flourish: "Black Tie Preferred", "Black Tie Optional" "Cocktail Attire", "Semi-Formal" and "Smart Casual", are all easily decoded.


Q: Do I need to include a direction or details card?

A: If your ceremony and reception are in different locations, have a large gap of time between them, or you wish to provide any wedding details (such as accommodations, transportation, things to do, or attire), then YES it is smart to include one!


You can opt for something simple that directs guests to your wedding website for more details.



Q: How much postage do I need?

A: Great question! The only way to know how much postage you'll need is to bring a pre-stuffed invitation suite to the post office to have it weighed. Don't forget about the postage for your response cards!


While you're at your local post office, ask if they'll hand-cancel your invitations. Hand cancelling helps to prevent damage to the invite, but not all locations will do it.



Q: Should I have guests RSVP on my wedding website?

A: Another tricky question - personally and professionally, I do not recommend it. Here's why. . .

  1. Older guests may not quite understand the process.

  2. Online RSVPs are more likely to be made flippantly, then forgotten. (How many times have you RSVP'd to an event on Facebook and not attended?) Of course, your wedding is more highly regarded than a FB event, but the concept still applies.

  3. Weddings where guests RSVP online have a lower attendance rate than mailed-in RSVPs (for the same reason as point #2)

Online RSVPs can be a good option for pre and post wedding events, and weddings with smaller guest counts (under 75 people).



Q: Should I send Save the Dates? How far out should I send them?

A: Unless your engagement is short enough that you'll be sending out invitations within 6-8 weeks anyway, I always suggest sending a save the date! These can be sent as a hard-copy or digital, and be text-only or include your engagement photos.


You'll want to send them 6-8 months out for most weddings, and up to a year out for destination and holiday weddings. If you're getting married in April or October in the south, you may also consider sending them a bit early. Those are the busiest wedding months!



Still have questions, or need a recommendation for a Houston stationer? Let us know! We offer invitation wording and proofing to all of our clients, and provide design assistance to our Guided & Full Planning + Design clients.