How to Write an Invitation

Ephemora’s elegant Flor stationery suite, featuring floral photography and gentle shadows.

So, ya wanna make an invite. You want it nice and personalized, with all the necessary info, just a touch of tradition, in a clean modern design, yeah? Sounds perfectly simple, until you actually sit down to write it.

 
My creative writing degree didn’t prepare me for this.

My creative writing degree didn’t prepare me for this.

 

To be fair, fitting traditional phrasing onto modern invites might mean a bit of reconciling your and your family’s values, and that’s no easy task. So much of what’s traditional on an invite reflects heteronormative, patriarchal views about marriage, so how do you give your invite the formal flair you’d like it to convey, while still upholding your values? We got some thoughts…

The invitation is the place for you to communicate all the basic essentials of your event. It should consist of 6 parts:

  1. The Hosts

  2. The Request

  3. Guests of Honor

  4. Date & Time

  5. Location

  6. Reception

Hosts

Traditionally, the parents of a bride in a heterosexual marriage would pay for the wedding, so the first line of the invite was reserved for their names, with the bride’s mother’s name first. If that arrangement describes your wedding, cool, cool: you and your parents may wish to use traditional phrasing. If you or loved ones beyond parents are contributing financially to your wedding, or, simply, if including the name of hosts just isn’t your thing, you can totally change up the phrasing.

Invitations often used to combine both parents’ names under the husband’s (i.e. “Mr. and Mrs. Frank McCarthy”). We’re not here to tell you what you can and can’t do but this IS our blog so we’re gonna go ahead and say This Is Icky Don’t Do It. Women have their own identities, so let’s go with something that recognizes that: “Mr. Frank McCarthy and Mrs. Velma McCarthy.”

Request

The next line is what tells guests that it’s a wedding to which they are being invited. Traditionally, a ceremony being held in a place of worship would use the phrase “request the honor of your presence.” A wedding in a secular location would use “request the pleasure of your company.”

Guests of Honor

Traditionally in a 2-person straight wedding, the bride’s name would come before the groom’s. Both would include a middle name. If the bride shares a last name with her parents, only her first and middle names would be used; if her last name is different, it would be included here. The groom’s last name would be included. Less traditionally, and much more commonly nowadays, people are not listing hosts at all, and are using their first and last names, with no middle name. For same-sex weddings, it can be uncomfortable to decide whose name comes first. You may want to consider alphabetical order, or, simply, using the order that sounds most natural to you over the course of your relationship.

Date & Time

Ephemora’s Ficus invitation uses a modern, conversational format for the event’s date and time.

Ephemora’s Ficus invitation uses a modern, conversational format for the event’s date and time.

Formal invitations typically spell out dates and times, but modern designs are basing their date and time phrasing more on stylistic choices rather than tradition. Many modern or minimalist events are using strictly numerals for dates and times, while still being formal. It’s a great idea to let the design of the suite you chose guide your date and time phrasing decisions, so as to keep with the style of the design. Keep in mind though, that most countries do not format dates the American way: month/date/year. If you are inviting guests from overseas, it’s a good idea to make the date and time very clear (possibly on your wedding website if you really want to keep things minimal on your invitation suite).

Location

Invitations usually have the ceremony venue’s name and complete address except for the zip code. The address is typically written in numerals, the street in letters (even for numbered streets, so “Fifty-Seventh Street” would be correct), and the city and state spelled out completely (“New York, New York”). The only part of this that folks seem to be consistently sticking to these days is leaving off the zip code; otherwise, write out the address in a way that matches the design of your invitation and that is clear for guests.

Reception

This one’s easy. If your reception is at the same location as your ceremony, just write “Reception to follow” at the bottom of the invite. If the reception is somewhere else, including it on the invite would make the invite a lil too wordy, so you stick it on its own reception card. That sort of thing is exactly what Ephemora’s Info Cards are for—every suite has one, so put all that info over there for a beautiful, matchy, informative suite.

Some Examples!

One set of parents is hosting a formal religious ceremony, with an off-site reception:

Dr. Francine Aubergine and Mr. Joseph Aubergine
request the honor of your presence
at the wedding of their daughter
Joy Anne
to
Lesley Morris
Saturday, the thirtieth of March
Two thousand and nineteen
at five in the afternoon
Saint Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church
20 Cardinal Hayes Place, New York, New York

You are hosting your own wedding, thankyouverymuch. It’s an ultra-modern, secular happening and you’ve chosen the sleekest invitation design to reflect that:

Celebrate with us
Ellis Avery
&
Loren Kipps
05.18.19
Brooklyn
The William Vale
7pm

Your parents, their friends from bingo, your second cousin Jordan, and even your dog with some money he made from that Eukanuba photo shoot are all hosting your secular event and the only decision they’ve left for you is your wedding stationery, poor you:

Together with their families,
Miguel Reyes
and
Charli Price
invite you to party
in celebration of their marriage
Sat 20 Apr
2019
5pm
The Wythe Hotel
80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Reception to follow

The invitation is the centerpiece of your stationery suite, and is often saved as a keepsake, so it’s a great idea to really take your time and find phrasing that is meaningful to you. But you’re clever and you got this! Go write you a great invite!


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