An Expert’s Guide to Wedding Invitation Wording

With so many different options available for every facet of a wedding, it makes sense that the days of one-size-fits-all invitation wording are long gone. While sticklers can still rely on Emily Post for traditional guidelines, we asked Alaina Cherup, owner and lead designer at Columbus, Ohio-based Cheer Up Press, for advice on how to handle a few modern conundrums. Here, she shares recommendations for everything from indicating whether children are invited to ways to provide pertinent information without feeling too informal.

Polite ways to pare down plus-ones. Perhaps the trickiest aspect of wedding invitation wording is conveying who is not on the guest list. For those who wish to omit children and plus-ones, Cherup says she’s found the simplest and least offensive way to do this is to add a line on the response card that says “We have reserved ___ seats in your honor,” with the blank filled in with the total number of people invited for the household.

How to know who comes first. As a general rule, the person (or people) paying for the wedding is the one doing the inviting, and that person’s name will generally be listed first on the invitation. If both the couple and the parents are contributing to the costs, the phrase “together with their families” can be used, but Cherup warns that parents should be consulted before couples make that decision if they are helping to pay.

Is it an honor or a pleasure? Typically, the phrase “the honor of your presence” is reserved for weddings taking place in a church, while “the pleasure of your company” is used when the ceremony takes place in a secular setting. Whether or not to use the British spellings is entirely up to the couple, Cherup says, but one should be consistent throughout the invitation suite, as in “honour of your presence” and “favour of a reply.”

Streamline meal selection. If a plated meal will be served at the reception, guests will need to indicate their preferred fare on the RSVP card, so that caterers can get an accurate head count. According to Cherup, the best way to do this is to ask guests to initial next to their entree of choice, as this is a streamlined way to gather the information in a timely manner. (Those who are opting for a buffet or family-style meal can of course skip this step.)

Avoid information overload. While guests appreciate having information about hotels and registries at their fingertips, there’s no need to go into detail about logistics on a wedding invite. To ensure guests are well-informed without cluttering up the stationery, Cherup recommends listing the wedding website on a separate card from the invitation—which will also keep the suite from feeling too informal.

Photography by Ashley West Photography. TSG Tip 311 from Alaina Cherup, owner and lead designer of Cheer Up Press in Columbus, Ohio. Cheer Up Press is featured in The Scout Guide Columbus.