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Correct Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Wedding invitations can be difficult to word, difficult to send, and more difficult to choose! There’s a certain etiquette involved when it comes to sending out your invitations, and you certainly don’t want to offend anyone by overlooking something important. This article will be a guide to helping you select and word your invitations that will show your guests the personality of your big day, all the while adhering to proper wedding invitation etiquette.

Deciding Who to Invite

You and your fiancé should both make individual lists. While there will be some common names on the list, making separate lists will lessen the likelihood of forgetting to invite someone important. If your parents will be helping with the funds for the wedding, or if they will be a large part of the day, asking them to make separate lists will be a good idea as well. Decide how many people you can afford to invite to the wedding BEFORE sending the invitations. Although not everyone that receives an invitation will be able to attend your event, a large portion of them will. Plan accordingly. A good rule of thumb would be to invite about 20% more people than you expect to attend.

While making your lists, compile addresses, make sure they are current, and make sure everything is spelled correctly. This is most simple to do in a spreadsheet format on a computer. When adhering to the guidelines of wedding invitation etiquette, children still living at home can be combined with their parents in the invitation wording, children over 18 not living at home should receive their own invitation, even if it is sent to the parents’ home.

When to Order/Send Invites

Invitations should be ordered at least four months before the wedding. If the invitation involves special embossing or detail, allow a bit more time for those to be prepared. All invitations should be mailed at the same time (you don’t want Aunt Lisa to get one two weeks after Aunt Pattie!!), about six weeks to two months before the day of the ceremony.

Types of Invitations

There are several types of invitations: informal, contemporary, and formal. Formal invitations are the classic invitation, generally in a bridal palette (white, cream, soft pastels) and have script writing on them. Contemporary invitations are quite popular today and can come in any variety of colors, with any kind of font, background, and/or graphic. This type of invitation tends to showcase the personality of the bride and groom as well as give the guests some idea of the theme (color or otherwise) of the wedding by the colors and graphics chosen. Informal invitations are generally handwritten or pre-printed on the front of a heavy postcard-sized piece of paper.

There are also different types of printing: Engraving is the most expensive and is typically only used on formal invitations. Engraved letters rise off the surface of the paper, giving the invitation a textured feel. Thermography blends the ink and a special powder to produced raised letters on the surface of the paper. Offset printing is the easiest and cheapest and offers the most variety of colors and fonts.

What to Send With the Wedding Invitation

It is becoming more common for the invitation to include directions to the ceremony site. The map should be printed on the same type of paper as the invitation, in a similar style. If all the guests you are inviting are also invited to the reception following, a simple statement including that information is appropriate to include on the invitation itself. If not all of your guests will be included at the reception, etiquette demands that a separate enclosure card may be sent with the invitation inviting them to the reception. Also if your reception is not at the ceremony site, directions to the reception site can be included. Response cards can be included with your invitation as well, but be sure to include a self-addressed envelope in which your guests can return the card. Your guest should not incur any expense to respond to your invitation.

Etiquette for Wording

On formal invitations, the names of the parents that are funding or sponsoring the wedding should appear on the invitation as the sponsors, whether that be the groom’s parents, the bride’s parents, or both sets of parents. When the bride and groom sponsor or fund their own wedding, just their names should appear as the sponsor. Specific rules apply to invitation wording when the parents are deceased, divorced, or remarried, or if the parents are members of the military service.

A couple of other things to keep in mind: all names are written out in full, including the middle name; every word should be spelled out in full, including the hour, date, time year, and street addresses – this means no numerals at all; if the wedding is being held at a religious venue, use the phrase “request the honor of your presence”; for secular gatherings say “request the pleasure of your company”.

Contemporary and informal invitations are much simpler in wording and can be designed by the bride and groom to have much more personal wording.