We hope that when it comes to wedding invitations you spend more time daydreaming about letterpress options than worrying about wording. To ensure you can skip the stress and get right to the fun, we’ve assembled some guidelines to get your started. In the past we’ve addressed wedding (and informal!) envelope etiquette, here’s our guide to what goes inside.

Don’t feel constricted by the format. The actual wording has many variations, which you should consider to best fit you, your partner, and the type of event that best celebrates your relationship. The basic form of a wedding invitation, however, is quite simple and adaptable. Each important piece of information is given it’s own line: the host line, request line, bride line, groom line, date and time lines, location line, and reception and R.S.V.P. lines. The reception and RSVP line may actually be separate cards included in the invitation.

Do think titles. Typically courtesy titles such as Mr and Doctor are used on formal invitations and considered optional on informal invitations. Other than Mrs. or Mr. titles should be spelled out. When using courtesy titles, both the first and middle names are used. Without the title, middle names may be omitted. If you desire to honor a deceased parent, omit the courtesy title and instead list “the late John Waters.”

Don’t forget your location. The street address is optional, especially if the location is well known (or easily google-able) but skip the zip code. The location also affects the wording of the invite. For a religious venue, we “request the honour of your presence” while a secular setting, even with a religious ceremony uses “request the pleasure of your company.” A less formal wedding can use alternate language; “would be delighted by your presence at the marriage of their children” or, for a reception-only invitation, “invite you to join them at the wedding reception of” are common.

Do give credit to the host(s.) The traditional language Mrs and Mrs Father’s Name “request the honor of your presence” comes from a time when the bride’s parents paid for all wedding expenses. Often the groom’s family, as well as the bride and groom themselves, are also contributing so select welcoming language that reflects this as you see fit. Bella Figura offers more in-depth advice.

Do note the spelling of honour. It’s optional these days whether you go with the British or American spelling, just keep it consistent for honour, favour, etc. The American spelling is not considered less formal. Likewise, at Christian weddings ‘to’ joins the bride and groom’s lines on the invitation. For a Jewish wedding, ‘and’ is used.

Don’t have late guests. The time and date are written out for formal invitations (use “half after” instead of “half past”) but “in the morning/evening” is not necessary. Guests will understand that your 10:00 wedding ceremony is AM. Traditionally, the year was not listed since wedding invites are sent only 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding, but many opt to include them for momento’s sake.

Recently received a wedding invitation, or an invite to another event? Check out our RSVP Do’s and Don’ts. Thank you to Andria Sato of Lilikoi Design + Letterpress for our wedding invitation samples. Calligraphy on the first image by Kathryn Murray